Are not two sparrows - He encourages them not to fear by two striking considerations: first, that God takes care of sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of birds; and, secondly, by the fact that God numbers even the hairs of the head. The argument is, that if He takes care of birds of the least value, if He regards so small a thing as the hair of the head, and numbers it, He will certainly protect and provide for you. You need not, therefore, fear what man can do to you.
Sparrows - The sparrows are well-known birds in Syria. They are small; they are found in great numbers; they are tame, intrusive, and nestle everywhere. “They are extremely pertinacious in asserting their right of possession, and have not the least reverence for any place or thing. David alludes to these characteristics of the sparrow in Psalm 84:1-12, when he complains that they had appropriated even the altars of God for their nests. Concerning himself, he says, I watch, and am as a sparrow upon the housetop, Psalm 102:7. When one of them has lost its mate - a matter of everyday occurrence - he will sit on the housetop alone, and lament by the hour his sad bereavement. These birds are snared and caught in great numbers, but, as they are small, and not much relished for food, five sparrows may still be sold for two farthings; and when we see their countless numbers, and the eagerness with which they are destroyed as a worthless nuisance, we can better appreciate the assurance that our heavenly Father, who takes care of them, so that not one can fall to the ground without his notice, will surely take care of us, who are of more value than many sparrows.” - “The Land and the Book ” (Thomson), vol. i. pp. 52,53.
Farthing - See the notes at Matthew 5:26.
Without your Father - That is, God, your Father, guides and directs its fall. It falls only with His permission, and where He chooses.
The very hairs of your head are all numbered - That is, each one has exercised the care and attention of God.
He has fixed the number; and, though of small importance, yet he does not think it beneath him to determine how few or how many they shall be. He will therefore take care of you.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? - Ασσαριου . A Roman As was one-tenth of a Denarius, which was about sevenpence-halfpenny, and one-tenth of sevenpence-halfpenny makes just three farthings.
The word ασσαριον, which we translate farthing, is found among the rabbins in the word עיסר aisar, which, according to Maimonides, is equal to four grains of silver, but is used among them to express a thing of the lowest, or almost no value. Our Lord seems to have borrowed the expression, One of them shall not fall on the ground, etc., from his own countrymen. In Bereshith Rabba, sec. 79, fol. 77, it is said: In the time in which the Jews were compelled to apostatize, Rab. Simeon, Ben. Jochai, and Eliezer his son hid themselves in a cave, and lived upon dry husks. After thirteen years they came out; and, sitting at the mouth of the cave, they observed a fowler stretching his nets to catch birds; and as often as the Bath Kol said דימוס dimos, escape! the bird escaped; but when it said ספקולא spicula, a dart, the bird was taken. Then the rabbin said, Even a bird is not taken without Heaven, i.e. without the will of God, how much less the life of man! The doctrine intended to be inculcated is this: The providence of God extends to the minutest things; every thing is continually under the government and care of God, and nothing occurs without his will or permission; if then he regards sparrows, how much more man, and how much more still the soul that trusts in him!
Fall on the ground - Instead of επι την γην, Origen, Clement, Chrysostom, Juvencus, and six MSS. of Mathai, read εις την παγιδα, into a snare. Bengel conjectures that it might have been written at first, επι την παγην ; that the first syllable πα being lost out of the word, γην, the earth, instead of παγην, snare, became the common reading.
Without your Father - Without the will of your Father: της βουλης, the will or counsel, is added here by Origen, Coptic, all the Arabic, latter Persic, Gothic, all the Itala except two; Tert., Iren., Cypr., Novatian, and other Latin fathers. If the evidence be considered as insufficient to entitle it to admission into the text, let it stand there as a supplementary italic word, necessary to make the meaning of the place evident.
All things are ordered by the counsel of God. This is a great consolation to those who are tried and afflicted. The belief of an all-wise, all-directing Providence, is a powerful support under the most grievous accidents of life. Nothing escapes his merciful regards, not even the smallest things of which he may be said to be only the creator and preserver; how much less those of whom he is the Father, Savior, and endless felicity! See on Luke 12:7; (note).
The drunkard is capable of better things. He has been entrusted with talents with which to honor God and bless the world; but his fellow men have laid a snare for his soul and built themselves up by his degradation. They have lived in luxury while the poor victims whom they have robbed, lived in poverty and wretchedness. But God will require for this at the hand of him who has helped to speed the drunkard on to ruin. He who rules in the heavens has not lost sight of the first cause or the last effect of drunkenness. He who has a care for the sparrow and clothes the grass of the field, will not pass by those who have been formed in His own image, purchased with His own blood, and pay no heed to their cries. God marks all this wickedness that perpetuates crime and misery. MH 341.2
The world and the church may have approval for the man who has gained wealth by degrading the human soul. They may smile upon him by whom men are led down step by step in the path of shame and degradation. But God notes it all and renders a just judgment. The liquor seller may be termed by the world a good businessman; but the Lord says, “Woe unto him.” He will be charged with the hopelessness, the misery, the suffering, brought into the world by the liquor traffic. He will have to answer for the want and woe of the mothers and children who have suffered for food and clothing and shelter, and who have buried all hope and joy. He will have to answer for the souls he has sent unprepared into eternity. And those who sustain the liquor seller in his work are sharers in his guilt. To them God says, “Your hands are full of blood.” MH 341.3Read in context »
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Psalm 32:1. SD 309.1
That God who marks the fall of a sparrow, marks your deportment and your feelings; He marks your envy, your prejudice, your attempt to justify your action in the least matter of injustice. When you misconceive the words and acts of another, and your own feelings are stirred, so that you make incorrect statements, and it is known that you are at variance with your brother, you lead others, through their confidence in you, to regard him just as you do; and by the root of bitterness springing up, many are defiled. When it is evident that your feelings are incorrect, do you try just as diligently to remove the erroneous impressions as you did to make them? ... SD 309.2Read in context »
“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.”
The Great Teacher brought His hearers in contact with nature, that they might listen to the voice which speaks in all created things; and as their hearts became tender and their minds receptive, He helped them to interpret the spiritual teaching of the scenes upon which their eyes rested. The parables, by means of which He loved to teach lessons of truth, show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature and how He delighted to gather the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of daily life. Ed 102.1Read in context »
Here Christ leads the mind abroad to contemplate the open fields of nature, and His power touches the eye and the senses, to discern the wonderful works of divine power. He directs attention first to nature, then up through nature to nature's God, who upholds the worlds by His power. He points to the opening bud.... He watches over little birds. Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without the notice of your heavenly Father.... LHU 71.5Read in context »