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Wisdom Of The Nest

I live in a rural area on what was at one time a farm. My driveway has maple trees and evergreen trees and shrubs along its length. As I was walking out to get my mail two days ago (this is written in May 2007), I was startled by a large brown bird, a duck, that suddenly came running out from the bushes beside the driveway. Strangely, although obviously a wild mallard (the females are brown, the males have the green head and white neck ring), instead of flying away, it just stood a few feet away from me. I thought that perhaps it was sick or injured, but when I walked toward it, it slowly walked away to match the exact distance that I had walked toward it. After doing this a few times, it suddenly flew up and around back to our starting point. It was then that I realized that I had been led on a "wild goose chase" (a wild duck chase, actually) by a duck.

A Nesting Duck I went back to the place where the duck had come running out, and sure enough, I found a nest of a dozen large duck eggs (slightly larger than chicken eggs), as shown in the bottom photograph below. When I walked away, the mother duck then, apparently appreciating the fact that I wasn't going to harm her or her nest, returned to her nest, to which I got the second picture (photo, top) of her sitting on that nest, well camouflaged amidst the natural evergreen litter under the bushes.

Although I was a little chagrined at being outsmarted by a duck, in how she had led me away from her nest, I also realized that it wasn't just a duck that outmaneuvered me - it was The Lord's "natural" wisdom that was given to that duck that enabled her to do that. The mother duck did what God "taught" her to do to defend her nest, and she did it perfectly, right by the book, as I later read in an article about Mallard ducks in Garden Birds by Dr. Noble Proctor. An excerpt:

"The nest is a deep dish shape, hidden in vegetation, quite often some distance from water. The nest lining is of feathers and the female will often dive from the nest feigning injury if approached too closely. Ten to twelve eggs is the usual clutch."

"Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at Thy altars"

The Lord's wisdom instructs all of the birds in the way for them to build their nests.

"Is it by Your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads his wings toward the south? Is it at Your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?" (Job 39:26-27 RSV)

Birds were welcome to nest at the Temple of God, for they too, as stated above, by the natural wisdom that they were given, had a measure of the Holy Spirit.

"Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Thy house, ever singing Thy praise!" (Psalm 84:3-4 RSV)

If someone harvested eggs, they were to leave the mother alone.

"If you chance to come upon a bird's nest, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall let the mother go, but the young you may take to yourself; that it may go well with you, and that you may live long." (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 RSV)

Some birds were given more wisdom than others.

"The wings of the ostrich wave proudly; but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth, and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them, and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear; because God has made her forget wisdom, and given her no share in understanding." (Job 39:13-17 RSV)

Nests were used as an analogy by The Lord (see also the Fact Finder question below) for the state of His people.

"When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion [see Who, What or Where Is Zion?] and on Jerusalem He will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as men gather eggs that have been forsaken so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped." (Isaiah 10:12-14 RSV)

The Lord repeatedly used an analogy of Himself as a mother bird (again, see the Fact Finder question below).

"For the Lord's portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no foreign god with him." (Deuteronomy 32:9-12 RSV)

Another analogy, with a literal reference to the Holy Spirit that gives all of God's creatures their "natural wisdom."

"There shall the owl nest and lay and hatch and gather her young in her shadow; yea, there shall the kites be gathered, each one with her mate. Seek and read from the book of The Lord: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of The Lord has commanded, and His Spirit has gathered them." (Isaiah 34:15-16 RSV)

Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ ever use an analogy of Himself as a "mother hen"?
Matthew 23:37


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