‘I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top’, Ps. 102. 7.
The sparrow is one of our most familiar wild birds, and said to be found on every continent except Antarctica. It is perhaps most noticeable because its life is intertwined with our own, being found around most houses and conspicuous on bird feeders. Scripture reflects the fact that it is common as the Lord used it by way of example. Two sparrows were sold for a farthing, Matt. 10. 29, but, for a ‘bulk purchase’, five sparrows could be purchased for just two farthings, Luke 12. 6. However, though they might appear almost worthless in human terms, ‘not one of them is forgotten before God’. Indeed, according to Matthew’s account, their actions are noted in heaven.
The lesson we might learn from the sparrow is the value of life. When it came to human valuation, the sparrow was virtually worthless, but not to God. If God notes the fall of the sparrow, what value does He put, and should we place, on human life? These scriptures challenge the concepts of assisted dying, abortion, and euthanasia.
But in the verse before us, we find ‘a sparrow alone upon the housetop’. Is it not unusual to find such a bird in its natural habitat and yet alone? It is a picture of extreme loneliness and isolation, of desolation and affliction, as the title of the psalm declares. Indeed, many see this as a Messianic psalm detailing ‘the complaint of “the Man of Sorrows”’, J. G. Bellett, Short Meditations on the Psalms.
However, here we might also learn that the Lord’s people are not strangers to difficulties or immune from sorrow and pain. In such extremities, many could identify with a smitten heart and bones that cleave to the skin. For others, victims of their own failure, they feel the heaviness of the hand of God upon them, v. 10. Whichever may be the case, we should meditate upon the ‘But thou’ references in this psalm, vv. 12, 27, and remember God’s mercy, v. 13, His attention to the prayers of His people, v. 17, His eternity and His immutability, v. 27.