If a bird's nest chance to be before you in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs…
Does God take thought for birds, then? Yes, even for birds. They sow not, neither do they reap; yet our heavenly Father feedeth them. Christ: cared for birds, then; and therefore we may be sure that God cares for them. And this God, says Jesus, is your Father. He loves you even more than He loves the birds, and guards you with a more watchful care. You would laugh if I were to ask you, What does your mother love best, the canary that sings in the cage, or the little girl who sits in her lap? And you may be quite as sure that you are "better" to your Father in heaven "than many sparrows"; yes, and better than all the birds He ever made. But if you are so dear to God, your Father, should you not love Him because He loves you, and prove your love by caring for what He cares for? Well, He cares for birds. He marks the trees "where the birds build their nests," and "sing among the branches"; and He shows us, in one of the Psalms (Psalm 104:12, 17), that He observes what kinds of trees the different birds select for use; does He not say, "As for the stork, the fir trees are her house"? Now, I dare say some of you boys are pleased to find that there is such a law, or rule, as this in the Bible. You have not been quite sure in your minds, perhaps, whether it was right or wrong to take a bird's nest, or even to take the eggs from the nest. And, I dare say, when you heard me read my text you thought, "Well, that's a capital rule! If I mustn't take the old bird, at least I may take the young ones or the eggs." But are you sure that that is the right way to read the Rule? But, to be honest with you, I am afraid it is wrong. As God loves the birds and takes care of them, so will you, if you are good children of our Father who is in heaven. And is it taking care of them to rob them of the beautiful little houses which they have spent so much toil in building? Of course, if we really want eggs or birds we may take them, whether we want them as food for the body or food for the mind; for God has put them all at our service. But to take them wantonly, without thought, without necessity, simply for the fun of it, is to wrong creatures whom God loves.
I. IT SET A LIMIT TO THE NATURAL GREED OF MEN. What would be the first impulse of a Jew who found the nest of a quail, or a partridge, with the mother bird sitting on the young ones or the eggs? Of course, his first impulse would be to take all he could get, the old bird as well as the eggs or the young. But to do that might be very poor thrift, and very poor morality. For in destroying the parent bird with the young the man might be helping to destroy a whole breed of valuable birds. He would get a dinner for today, but he would be lessening his chance of finding one tomorrow, tie would be helping himself, but he might also be injuring his neighbour. "Don't be greedy," then, is the first lesson we find in our bird's nest. "Don't snatch at all you can for today, careless about tomorrow."
II. Another lesson taught by this law about a bird's nest is this — IT BRINGS THE LAW OF GOD INTO THE LITTLE THINGS OF LIFE. And that is just where we most need it, and are most apt to forget it.
III. But this rule about birds nesting teaches us that ALL LOVE IS SACRED; and this is the most beautiful lesson I have found in it. Now, think. If you were to find a nest, and saw the mother bird with a brood of young ones under her wings, what would it be that would give you a good chance of catching her? It would simply be her love for her nestlings. If she cared only for herself she could fly away out of your reach. But if the love of a bird is sacred, how much more sacred is the love of a boy or a girl, of a woman or a man! All love is sacred. It is base and wicked to take advantage of it, to turn it against itself, to use it for selfish ends. I would have you think, therefore, how great a power love gives you, and how base and wrong it is to abuse that power. Love is the strongest thing in the world. People will do for love what they would do for nothing else. And there are those who know that, and who take such base advantage of it that they sometimes ruin the character and spoil the life of those who love and trust them. There is nothing in the world so wicked, so base, so vile. If you have parents, or brothers and sisters, or young companions and friends, who love you dearly, oh take heed what you do! Their love will be the comfort and joy of your lives if you retain and respond to it. But that love puts them in your power. You may hurt them through it, and grieve them through it, and make them go wrong when, but for you, they would have gone right. And if you do, you will be scorned by all good men and women. If you do, what will you say to the God of all love, and what will He say to you, when you stand before Him? And that brings me to the very last word I have to say to you. Who is it that loves you best of all, most purely, most forgivingly, most tenderly? And perhaps you are abusing God's love.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:
WEB: If a bird's nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the hen sitting on the young, or on the eggs, you shall not take the hen with the young: