As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings:…
The nest of the eagle is commonly constructed on the verge of a precipice (Job 39:28, 29). Hence Jeremiah, foretelling the downfall of Edom, says (Jeremiah 49:16). The Old Testament contains many beautiful similitudes drawn from the natural history of the eagle. The days of man are compared to an eagle hastening to the prey. Riches are said to take unto themselves wings, and to fly away as an eagle towards heaven. The righteous are said to mount up with wings as eagles; and the rage of persecution is, because of its hastening to destroy, compared to the rapidity of the eagle's flight. But perhaps the most beautiful allusion to the habits of the eagle is this in the text. It is a well authenticated fact in natural history that, when the mother sees her brood capable of flight, she urges them to exercise in the way referred to.
I. SHE STIRRETH UP THE NEST. She either entirely demolishes it, or by reversing its well adjusted materials, makes it so uncomfortable that the young ones are glad to escape from it. The natural instinct which she possesses leads her to urge them on the wing; and for this purpose she finds it needful to make their first habitation inconvenient and troublesome. And thus, the text tells, did the Almighty with the Israelites. They had had their nest in Egypt; and He desired them to leave it for Canaan. If they had suffered no inconvenience there, they would have shown no inclination to emigrate to a better country. Adversity is the grand instrument by which men are awakened to higher purposes and aims. They are taught the inconveniences of the tents of Kedar, in order that they may seek for the peaceful habitations of the just. In every blighted prospect of ambition — in every disappointed hope of success — in every visitation of sickness — in every stroke of bereavement, our God is doing for us what the parent eagle does for her young when she stirreth up the nest. Thus does He remind us that we were born for higher enjoyments, and fitted for higher destinies. Thus does He teach us that it is high time to forsake the amusements of a childhood state, and pursue objects worthy of our powers.
II. This similitude may be applied also to THE GRACIOUS DISCIPLINE WHICH GOD EXERCISES IN AWAKENING THE CONSCIENCE. We naturally love the nest of carnal security and self-righteousness. We are unwilling to be disturbed out of it. We esteem him our enemy who tells us the truth, that we are miserable and blind and naked. We are pleased with the flatterer who cries "Peace, peace" to us when there is no peace. This self-complacency would be most ruinous to our best interests. So long as it is indulged, the strong man keeps his palace and his goods in peace. Now, this false peace must be broken before the peace of God can rule the heart. And therefore it is that, by sharp application of the word of truth, the Holy Spirit of God convinces the mind of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. You will never get a man to see his need of a Saviour until he is made aware of the purity, strictness, and extensiveness of the law which he has broken. You must convince him of sin before you can hope to persuade him of the excellence of salvation.
III. This similitude may be applied to the case of THE GOOD MAN ABOUT TO LEAVE THE WORLD. There is lodged in the human bosom an inborn horror of death. Even good men, who have strong reason to believe and hope that it will be well with them in a future state, have attachments and sympathies which bind them to the earth. They cannot, without a strong effort, reconcile themselves to the thought of closing their eyes to all beneath the sun — of being shut out from the joys of friendship, and of being confined in the narrow house, where neither business is transacted nor work done. But, to conquer this natural reluctancy, the Almighty is graciously pleased to make them feel the inconveniences of this mortal life, and so to beget in them a longing desire for that in which there is no sorrow nor crying. The pains of sickness are thus instrumental in quickening their desires for that healthier state of being where the inhabitant never says "I am sick." The disquietudes and decrepitudes of age are so many arguments for resigning themselves to that severe but transient stroke which is to introduce them to a region of immortal youth. Lover and friend they see put far from them, and their acquaintance into darkness; and the thought arises, Why should we wish to linger? let us go to them, for they will not return to us.
(J. L. Adamson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: