Deuteronomy 32:11
As an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, He spread His wings to catch them; He carried them on His pinions.
The EagleJ. Orr Deuteronomy 32:11
The Fatherhood of GodR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 32:1-14
History's Testimony for GodD. Davies Deuteronomy 32:7-14
A Panorama of GraceJ. Orr Deuteronomy 32:10-14
Aroused from NestlingT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Divine DisciplineE. L. Hull.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Divine EducationJ. L. Adamson.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Divine ExpulsionsA. Raleigh, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Eagle NurtureJ. W. Earnshaw.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Education of BereavementG. Matheson, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
God Stirs Up His PeopleJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
God's Care Illustrated by the EagleJ. Ayre, M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
God's Dealings with MenJ. Thew.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
God's Graining of IsraelA. H. Drysdale, M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
God's Parental CareJohn Tagg, M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
On God's Wing, and Under ItD. Davies.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Taught by the EagleD. D. F. Macdonald, M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle and its BroodA. Maclaren, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle Stirring Up Her NestW. J. Brock, B. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle Stirring Up Her NestH. Woodcock.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle; a Parable of GodJ. P. Allen, M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle's NestH. J. Vandyke, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Eagle's NestW. M. Taylor, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Inauguration of Christian ExperienceM. Vincent, D. D.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The Spiritual Discipline of HumanityHomilistDeuteronomy 32:11-12
Unity of ProvidenceC. Gowand, . M. A.Deuteronomy 32:11-12
The description is of a female eagle exciting her young ones in teaching them to fly, and afterwards guarding with the greatest care lest the weak should receive harm (Gesenius). In this picture of the eagle's treatment of her young, note -

I. HER AIM. She aims at teaching them self-reliance. It is not God's wish that his children should go in leading-strings. They must be trained to prompt, fearless, self-reliant action. This was an aim of the discipline of the wilderness. Our action is to be in a spirit of dependence, but it is to be active, not passive dependence.

II. HER METHOD. She stirs up her nest. She does not leave her brood to the ignoble ease they would perhaps prefer. So God rouses his people to action by making their place uneasy for them. By placing them in trying situations, by removing comforts, by the stimulus of necessity, by the sharp provocation of afflictions, he goads them to think, act, and put forth the powers that are in them. It is not for the good of Christians that they should have too much comfort.

III. HER CASE. The experiment is not carried to the point of allowing the young to hurt themselves. She hovers over them, supports them on the tip of her wings, etc. God tries us, but not beyond our strength. - J.O.

As an eagle stirreth up her nest.
I. The great end of the spiritual discipline of humanity is TO SECURE THE RIGHT ACTION OF OUR POWERS. What is right action?

1. A constitutionally befitting action. We are made to love, study, and serve God.

2. A self-reliant action. This is the condition of progress, and implies a trust in moral principles and in God.

3. A Divinely prompted action.

II. The means of the spiritual discipline of humanity involve A VARIETY OF DIVINE ACTION.

1. A stimulating action. God takes health, property, friends, children away, to stir us up.

2. An exemplary action. In Christ we see how we can, and ought to, act.

3. A protecting action.

III. The genius of the spiritual disciple of humanity is ever that of PARENTAL AFFECTION.

1. There should be on our part a cordial acquiescence. Our Father knows what is best, and what we require.

2. There should be on our part an endeavour to realise the end of discipline (Job 23:10; Psalm 66:10-12).


We are taken out to the solitudes where some cliff, with ragged, splintered crown uplifts its giant form into the air, and has at base, let us suppose, the wave-washed rock and ever-heaving mass of ocean waters. Far above, perched on a ledge forming its eyrie, sits the monarch of the air, the eagle, representative of all that is graceful and powerful in the bird creation. The nest, built of rudely arranged sticks, is so protected by its inaccessibility that you at once see that nothing but the deep instincts of the bird could have taught it to make so savage a place its home. It is, however, so near the cliff's edge that when their offspring are ready for flight, the parent birds may have the less difficulty in tempting their new-fledged offspring to the skies. Two things are taken for granted here, and we need go no further until we bring them under notice. These are that God is our Father, and the powers by which we serve Him are slumbering within us.

I. GOD IS OUR FATHER. Does a hearer say, "There's nothing in this"? So much, my friend, that the day you realise this, salvation has entered your dwelling. I am perfectly aware that this at times is hard to believe, that when a fellow mortal is laid on a bed of pain and sees wife and helpless children sobbing at his bedside, and death steadily advancing to embrace him, I know it is hard for him to think that behind all this discipline there is a God and Father's affection. But recollect, we only see the beginning of things here. The end lies yonder. Yonder lie the explanations and the true home-bringing. Borrowing an illustration from an art we all know something about, the art of photography, we remind you that if the camera glass be so small that the photographer can only partially cover a coveted view, say some lofty, wide-stretching mountain range, he photographs part by part until he has completed the whole view, and then, piecing his views together, is able to present a faultless and accurate picture of the whole. So must it be with us in our life and in our judgment of God's Fatherhood.

II. The second tiring assumed is, THAT THE POWERS BY WHICH GOD'S CHILDREN SERVE HIM ARE WITHIN US. Think of our illustration. The wings by which the eagle's offspring soar into the skies do not require to be created. They simply wait to be exercised; so is it with men. We have reminded you, then, that God is our Father, and that the powers by which we serve Him are within us.

III. If we are all the children of God, then WE DARE NOT EXPECT TO LIVE WITHOUT BEING EDUCATED BY HIM. Nor can we, and from the illustration supplied us here we learn how the Great Father trains us for His higher service. His method is two-fold, and we are now to have this double method graphically illustrated for us.

1. The first is the educative method. The cliff now rises before us. The rudely constructed nest of sticks is there, the yawning abyss beneath, the eaglets and the parent bird. See! She is now about to begin her course of instruction. Dozing, blinking, shivering, her offspring perch upon the ragged summit of the cliff. Like a thunderbolt the mother plunges into the gulf below. She swoops round and round, backwards and forwards, before her timid children. She desires them to follow her example. She pursues this course; but no t they will not; they are faint-hearted; the experience is new. With one bold sweep sloe has rounded to and perched beside them. Here let her tarry for a brief space while we ask each other what spiritual meaning can we possibly attach to this? It is the leading the way — the showing others how to do anything by first of all doing it yourself. Every master knows its value, when he bids some bungling servant stand aside and see how it ought to be done. The poorest mother in all the land knows the value of this imitative method when, at nightfall, she kneels in prayer by the side of her child and teaches the little one how to lisp "Our Father." The officer knows the value of this rule, who plunges his spurs into his charger's sides and leads the way 'mid clash of steel and crack of musketry. This, then, is the imitative method, and we all know its value more or less; but not sufficiently, unless we have imitated the noblest exponent of this simple art — Jesus the Christ. He knew the full value of this plan, and the world has never known a nobler follower of it. But what if the reverential spirit in a person refuse to be quickened? What if the religious faculty remain still unawakened? If the soul of man will not yield to God's peaceable, gentle method of education, then observe what our text tells us.

2. God has recourse to His second rule for educating us, the prohibitive method. Let the text tell us what this is. Again we wander forth to the wilds, and now we shall see the parent bird calling yet a second device to her aid in order to compel her timorous children to take wing and cleave the air. They have refused to be taught by gentle ways, they shall be instructed now by sterner rules. Impatiently she flits backwards and forwards, then swoops up beside them. There they still sit, dozing and shivering beside the old nest. In an instant (and naturalists tell us this is strictly true), literally in the words of Scripture, "She stirreth up the nest." She scatters the sticks. She prohibits their remaining longer in a state of infancy and weakness. The sticks are scattered and again she plunges into the yawning gulf below. Now, see what our God and Father is doing. Our hearts in their folly will fondly cling to the hope that on earth we have all we require; we try to settle down here. We say to our souls, we shall have a long and a merry time of it. But the unseen hand of God is holding us; behold the working of that hand! He has withdrawn the old familiar landmarks, one after another. School days and school companions, where are they? He has scattered our schoolfellows, they are spread over the face of the globe, its length and breadth, and many this day sleep their last sleep, "by mount and stream and sea." The happy band of laughing school lads all scattered. The company is broken. He has disappointed us. He has plunged some of us into the cold, dark waters of bereavement, and taught some of us that this world is one gigantic vanity and the earth a vale of tears. And what does it all mean? What but that we are destined for another world? This is only the school. Are we to remain children all our days? Are our powers of soul never to be developed by prayer and faith? Is the spiritual side of our nature to remain asleep or dead? Nay! Life is like the eaglets' nest; and if we will not learn by the imitative, God will continue to apply to us His prohibitive method.

3. But observe, if we refuse to be trained either by imitation or prohibition, if the life of Christ be nothing to a man, and the waves of affliction washing over his soul but harden him in impenitence, I ask you, has the infinite mercy of God no means of retaliating? There shall be no retaliation, but our text as we have it again speaks to us; the only course left open to the Almighty love is to leave him alone. There is no compulsion. No will is forcibly bent to submission.

(D. D. F. Macdonald, M. A.)

I. THE DIVINE AIM. Spiritual education.

1. Its character. Educing the latent energies and powers of the soul.

2. Its importance. Character. Higher attainment. Nobler enjoyment.

3. Its difficulty. We love the nest of ease, and are satisfied with slender attainments, or none.


1. Disturbance. The ministry of affliction.

2. Example.

3. Aid.

(J. P. Allen, M. A.)

1. God's care in providing beforehand for the wants and destinies of His people.

2. The discipline to which God subjects His people for their good.

3. The instruction God gives His people by precept and example.

4. The protection and support God extends to His people.Lessons —

1. A lesson of encouragement to begin a Christian life. Your soul has wings; stretch them. Learn to fly by flying.

2. A lesson of comfort. Fear not (Isaiah 40:31).

3. A lesson of hope for all the future. That which has been shall be.

(H. J. Vandyke, D. D.)

The text suggests the course of God's dealings with His chosen people — the fact that, throughout the shifting scenes of their pilgrimage, God alone is their Guide and Protector. The whole strain of the passage is on the word "alone," and presents to us, not so much the idea of providence itself, as the unity of providence.


1. One reason of this is to be found in the nature and extent of man's present capabilities. Man learns bit by bit.

2. Another reason is found in the variety of the circumstances of providence. Life is made up of lights and shades, sweets and bitters, with their endlessly arranged gradations. We cannot see how these crooked, angular chippings can be so placed as to represent the picture sketched by God of His own glory and our welfare.

3. The apparently trivial nature of some events in life hides this unity from us. But can there be anything trivial in God's dealings with us? Who can say one event of his life is of more importance than another?

II. This unity FINDS AN ANALOGY IN MAN'S OWN GENERAL PROCEDURE. God often places a heavenly principle under earthly arrangements. "Like as a father pitieth his children," etc.

III. This unity WILL BE PERCEIVED IN A FUTURE PERIOD. In providence there is a two-fold unity.

1. The perfection of humanity and restoration to the Divine image,

2. The promotion of the glory of God. These two unite; neither can be without the other. When this is accomplished, Christ's idea of unity will be realised.

(C. Gowand, . M. A.)


1. There is a strong tendency to spiritual indolence in mankind.

2. The danger of "settling down on the lees" is an ever-present one. The air must be kept in constant motion or it will lose its life; the ocean must flow and heave unceasingly or its waters become stagnant.

3. The heart of man is naturally timid, fearful, like the birdling, and must be taught of God in a way similar to that described in the text.

4. It is trial, experience, discipline only that can counteract these tendencies, dispel these fears and doubts, and give exercise, development, and strength to our powers, gifts, advantages, and thereby enable us to soar aloft in the blue empyrean like the mother eagle.


1. The Word and ordinances.

2. Special and extraordinary means.


(2)National judgments.

(3)Personal visitation — sickness, bereavement, losses, trials, temptations, discipline.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

I. THE DISCIPLINE WHICH GOD USES. He knows our tendency to make this earth our rest, and He disturbs our nest to teach us to rise on the wings of faith, towards the enduring realities of heaven. How often does God take away our earthly comforts when He sees that we cling too fondly to them. Perhaps something upon which we placed the utmost reliance, upon which seemed to rest our only stay, is suddenly and mysteriously taken from us, and when we attempt to grasp it we find it is gone. A gale at sea may destroy the hopes of the merchant; depression in trade may bring want to your door; the bankruptcy of some large mercantile firm, or the failure of a bank, may involve numbers in ruin, and plunge many families in misery hitherto unknown. How many have had occasion, from these and similar causes, to mourn over altered circumstances. Marvel not if it be thus with you; it is God stirring up your nest to teach you to wing your flight to heaven. How many of us will have to praise God that ever He stirred up our nest by the dispensations of His providence. Let us notice. —

II. THE AFFECTION WHICH GOD EXHIBITS. "As an eagle fluttereth over her young," or broodeth over them, that she may communicate vital warmth. God is here represented as manifesting the same affection towards His people as the parent bird exhibits towards her young, nurturing and warming them.

III. THE GUARDIAN CARE WHICH GOD EXERCISES. "As an eagle spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings." It would be difficult to picture a more touching representation of God's care over His people.

1. He teaches them the way they should go.

2. He sustains them when weary.The affection of the parent bird referred to in the text is so great that she takes her young ones and bears them on her wings, and so shields them that no arrow can reach them but through the parent's heart. And is not God thus a Father to us? Did He not bear us up from the ruin of the fall, and beyond the reach of threatening vengeance? Did not the Son of God, who is one in essence with the Father, assume our nature and bear our sins in His own body on the tree?

(W. J. Brock, B. A.)

I. DIVINE INCITEMENTS. It is wonderful how happy men become sometimes in the worldly nest. A man gets the wife he wants. The children come, and prosperity, and kindliness, and health, and comfort, and reputation — and he says in his heart, "I shall die in my nest after living in it for long happy years." When lo! there comes somehow, and from some quarter, a stirring up of the nest — incitements, surprises, changes, losses, controversies, sorrows. The young birds are growing, and the nest is too small, and they crowd against each other, and that makes a stirring up. Or there are griefs and losses that crush the unportioned heart and shake it all trembling out of its security. It were useless to attempt to describe all the ways by which God can shatter what man builds, drive away what man gathers, take what man in vain tries to hold. The thing to be done is to persuade ourselves that all this is indeed sent for our good. The eagle does not stir up its nest with any ill design. God does not bring His forces of change and trouble upon men with a view to grieve and ruin them. He, too, has only good intent. His voices, His strokes, seem to say to men, "What mean ye, ye sleepers? Awake. You have enough of that. You have in the creature no abiding portion; seek it, and you will find it in Me."

II. DIVINE EXAMPLE. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young"; as showing them the way to fly; so God sets before us the examples of the good, the strivings of the great, the lives of the saints, and chiefly the perfect life of His incarnate Son. He is always showing us the way; always rising into the purer air, that we may follow; always showing new paths, and pointing to high places; and never yet have the poor passing pleasures of earth been made to look so fair as God makes goodness seem, shining in the lives of His holy ones and perfectly in Himself.

III. DIVINE PROTECTION. "The eagle spreadeth abroad her wings." This, indeed, may be no more than the full expansion of the meaning of the former phrase, the spreading abroad of the wings being the complete example of the method of flying. But the probability rather seems to be that the spreading of the wings is the promise of protection to the young birds, both while in the nest and while attempting to fly. God protects — whom? Not lazy, selfish creatures whose chief aim is to make the world a nest. God protects — what? Not indolence, cowardice, selfishness, fear, indifference. He protects those who stir themselves when the nest is stirred; those who spread the wing in answer to the outspread wings above them; those who work; those who stay by the task; those who refuse to leave the field of duty; those, in a word, who try, at least, to mount upon wings as eagles, to run without being weary, to walk without fainting.

IV. DIVINE COMPULSION. "As an eagle...taketh them," if they will, in helpfulness: if they will not, in compulsion; in one way or another, they must be got out of the nest. I have seen, not an eagle indeed, but a bird of some size, give a motherly or fatherly push to a strong young creature sitting on the edge of the nest engaged in a general survey of the world below. "It is time," said the mother, "that you should go down and see life more closely for yourself, and wing your way through the air, and try what you can find in the fields — be a bird, like your ancestors!" Taketh them. These takings of God at certain periods and epochs of the individual life are very instructive, if you will observe them. I mean His takings of the stronger kind. His expulsions. His banishments. Then He is always ready with suitable and sufficient helps to those who are thus completely launched and started upon the new life. "As an eagle...beareth them on her wings." The mother eagle comes beneath her young one in the air when it is about to sink, through fear or weakness, bears it up on her own outspread wings and carries it back to the nest or along through the air, until weakness is recruited and fear is overcome.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

It is no mere fanciful accommodation of my text, but indeed a fair interpretation of it, which finds in it a description of the calling and training of human souls for the glorious "inheritance of the saints in light."

I. There is NEEDFUL DISLODGEMENT. The eagle "stirreth up her nest," making it disagreeable to her young; so the Lord does with those whom He calls to Himself. In the day of our worldly comfort and business affluence we think little of God; we care little for the concerns of our souls; we are not in the very least attracted to the heavenly land. But when a reverse comes upon us, when poverty, or sickness, or bereavement, or affliction of any sort attacks us, then we are compelled to confront the great soul problem, "What must I do to be saved?" and as that anxious cry is crushed out of our heart, we find the Lord near us with His deliverance. It is no true blessing, therefore, for a man to have unbroken prosperity. It fosters a false security; it generates pride; it is apt to make the individual feel that he is independent even of God. Hence the Psalmist has said, "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." He is the really unfortunate man, therefore, who has never known adversity.

II. But I find in this figure, in the second place, PERFECT EXAMPLE. As the eagle fluttereth over her young, so the Lord did with His people. There is a passage, in Sir Humphry Davy's Salmonia (a book dear to every lover of the angler's craft) which may well illustrate this portion of my text. He says, "I once saw a very fine and interesting sight above one of the crags of Ben Weevis, near Strathgarve. Two parent eagles were teaching their offspring — two young birds — the manoeuvres of flight. They began by rising from the top of a mountain in the eye of the sun (it was about midday, and bright for this climate). They at first made small circles, and the young birds imitated them; they paused on their wings waiting till they had made their first flight, and then they took a second and larger gyration, always rising toward the sun and enlarging their circle of flight, so as to make a gradually ascending spiral. The young ones still slowly followed, apparently flying better as they mounted, and they continued this sublime kind of exercise, always rising, till they became mere points in the air, and the young ones were lost, and afterwards their parents, to my aching sight." Now, could anything be finer than that as an illustration of the method by which, through the example which He sets before us, God teaches us to live? He is not content with laying down the law for us, but in His own dealings with us He shows us the law glorified and brightened by His actions. Does He command us to be merciful? He is Himself "rich in mercy to all that call upon Him." Does He enjoin us to be benevolent? He has Himself "loaded us with His benefits." Does He require us to forgive? He has Himself "multiplied to pardon." Look at that youth with his brush and palette in his hands, standing before the masterpiece of the great Italian. He is studying every minutest feature of the superb original, and at length he becomes possessed, as it were, by the spell of the genius that is looking down upon him from the silent canvas. Then he sets to work for himself, and though his earliest efforts are about as awkward as the first timid flutterings of the eaglet, yet he tries again and again, lessening each time the interval between him and his model, until at last he stands out before the world recognised as one who has caught the fervour and the inspiration of his master. So let it be with us, and the perfect pattern which the great Redeemer has left us.

III. IT IS EFFECTUAL HELP. Mr. Philip Henry Gosse, the well-known naturalist, in his interesting work on the birds of Jamaica, speaking of the red-tailed buzzard, which is closely allied to the eagle, tells us that a friend of his, who was not likely ever to have heard of the verses before us, "once witnessed the emergence of two young ones from a nest near the top of an immense cotton tree, and their first attempt at flight. He distinctly saw the mother bird, after the first young one had flown a little way and was beginning to flutter downward, fly beneath it, and present her back and wings for its support. He could not say, indeed, that the young one actually rested on, or even touched, the parent; perhaps its confidence returned on seeing support so near, so that it managed to reach a high tree, when the other little one, invited by its parent, tried its infant wings in like manner." This, at any rate, is plain: the parent bird is ever near the struggling eaglet, and is ready in a moment with effectual aid, and so God has said to each of His children, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "My grace is sufficient for thee."

1. In the first place, it is not intended to supersede our own exertions. A man is not carried helplessly into the new life any more than the Israelites were carried over the Red Sea. He lives when he chooses to believe, and that believing, however much Divine agency may be concerned with it, is his own act. Wait not, therefore, for anyone to spread for you the faith-wing on which you are to rise, but make the effort to expand it for yourself, and you will find beside you the guiding and sustaining Saviour.

2. This Divine assistance is always near. The parent eagle kept ever hovering near its young one, and in its moment of extremity darted in beneath it with speedy assistance. So God is ever nigh to them that need Him. There is, indeed, no one so near to us as Jehovah is.

3. This Divine help is all sufficient. It meets our every need. There are two practical thoughts —(1) Let us see in this subject the key to the right understanding of God's providential discipline of His people. It seems a paradox to say that afflictions are an indication that God loves us; or, in the figure of my text, they stir the nest and push us over, that we may be urged to use our faith-wings, and soar aloft in the service of our God.(2) Let us learn from this subject how we should proceed wisely and tenderly to train others for God. We should be to those whom we desire to benefit as near as possible what God has been to us.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Without attaching any mystic meaning to this figure of the eagle, we may readily discover the great principles of God's action that it was intended to illustrate.

I. THE DIVINE DISCIPLINE OF LIFE IS DESIGNED TO AWAKEN MAN TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIS OWN POWERS. The instinct of the eagle in breaking up her nest is to arouse the native energies of her young. The power of flight is in them, but unknown, because it has never been called into play; it is a slumbering faculty, and must be awakened into action. Man's soul is formed into God's image by the right action of his spiritual powers, and these powers are only awakened by the activity of God.

1. The great purpose of all spiritual discipline is to render men Divine. By the very constitution of the soul, the Godlike image must be formed by awakening the energies that lie smouldering within. The soul contains in itself the germinal forces of the life it may possess in the future ages.

2. The image of the text suggests two methods of Divine action: the stimulating and the exemplary. The eagle breaks up her nest, and is not the voice of life's experience God's summons to man to rise and live to Him? God sends a shock of change through our circumstances, and rouses us from repose.

II. DISCIPLINE ATTAINS ITS END ONLY WHEN REGARDED AS UNDER THE CONTROL OF A FATHER. It is obvious that the instinct of the eagle is that of parental affection.

1. Believe in the Father, and you submissively accept the mysterious in life.

2. Believe in the Father, and you shall strive to realise the purpose of this discipline. We have no impulse to any spiritual aspiration, to any true self-sacrifice, to the exertion of any spiritual energy, which is not awakened by the touch of the Eternal Spirit. Let us, then, awake out of sleep. God is breaking up our material resting places in order that we may aspire towards the imperishable and the immortal.

(E. L. Hull.)

What a startling thought — that the breaking up of the nest is an act of God's benevolence! I always looked upon it as a calamity. We are all familiar with the experience of the breaking-up of home. We remember the glad circle round the old fire, and how it grew thinner and thinner. One went to the colonies; one went out to be a governess; one departed with a stranger to a house of her own; more than one passed into the silent land. I always thought it a subject for tears. But here is an old writer who makes it a subject for praise, blesses God for it, declares it to be the first step of my education! I can understand God's love in many things. I can understand why I should praise Him for His gifts to body and soul. But I lose my breath in surprise when I am asked to make the first stanza of my hymn the adoration of His mercy in loosing the ties of home! Nay, my soul, it is to strengthen these ties that thy Father breaks up the nest. It is not to get rid of home He would teach thee to fly. It is that thou mayest learn by travel that thy home is wider than thy nest. He would have thee learn that in thy Father's house are many mansions, of which thy nest is only one. He would tell thee of a brotherhood in Christ which includes, yet transcends, thy household fires. He would tell thee of a family altar which makes thee brother to the outcast, sister to the friendless, father to the homeless, mother to the sick, son to the feeble, daughter to the aged — in kinship to all. Thy Father has given thee wings in the night, wings in the breaking of thy ties. Thou hast soared by thy sorrow; thou hast loved by thy loss; thou hast widened by thy weeping; thou hast grown by thy grief; thou hast broadened in being broken; thou hast enlarged thy sympathy by emptying out thy treasures. The storm that shook thy nest taught thee to fly.

(G. Matheson, D. D.)

I. GOD CORRECTS HIS PEOPLE. When the young eagles are strong enough to fly, but shew no inclination to do so, the mother bird "stirreth up her nest." Special reference is here made to the "nest" which God provided for the seventy souls who went down into Egypt (Genesis 47:6). "Their cattle throve, they had fine possessions, and a monarch's favour." At length Joseph died, and his services were forgotten. The once favoured people came to be regarded as little better than beasts of burden. They were hemmed in by forts; they were set to hard labour. Their nest became so uncomfortable towards the close of the four hundred and thirty years in Goshen, that they resolved to try their wings, and soar away to the "promised land."

1. Wealth, houses, costly furniture, and pictures make a comfortable nest, and are harmless so long as they do not tempt us to spiritual indolence. Alas, how few know how to use this world without abusing it! Care for his earthly comfort has been cultivated to such an extent as to almost take away all relish for spiritual things.

2. God, in mercy, often stirs up the nests of such people. Business fails, and their resources are cut off. As one said, "God took the man's son from his hearthstone, but that led him to seek comfort in the only begotten Son of God." In the midst of his anguish he learned this lesson, "God is love." He took away little, but He gave him much. If God did not stir up some people's nests, they would sink down into utter worldliness.

II. GOD COMPASSIONATES HIS PEOPLE. "She fluttereth over her young." Let us ever remember that God is more compassionate than the tenderest mother. A religion born of terror can never be a healthy, vigorous religion. When you come to God for salvation, and when you look to Him for help to do life's work and to face life's difficulties, don't come to Him as though He were a God who is always looking for faults, and anxious to find them.

III. GOD TRAINS HIS PEOPLE. The Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness, and they might have fared worse. That journey had other advantages besides leading them to Canaan. Its long marches and desert sands developed powers of endurance which had lain dormant amid the fleshpots of Egypt. There are in most people faculties and energies imprisoned, pent up.

IV. GOD PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE. The parent bird, while training her young, protects them. If a storm is brewing, or a fowler points at her young ones, does she abandon them without an effort to save them?

(H. Woodcock.)

I. THE LORD "STIRRETH UP OUR NEST" BY SENDING US DISCOMFORTS AND AFFLICTIONS. We are naturally like the slothful eaglets, who would rather doze away their life in their comfortable home than try their unsteady wings in flight towards heaven. But God is kinder to us than we would be to ourselves. He "stirs up our nest": He breaks up those comforts which we love too dearly. Ah! who would fly towards heaven, who would seek a fairer and a better world, if it were not that God from time to time "stirreth up our nest" in one or other of these ways?

II. Our text reminds us, by a very lively image, of GOD'S LOVE AND TENDER SOLICITUDE FOR HIS PEOPLE. He is compared to an eagle "fluttering" over her brood, watching and encouraging them in their endeavours to fly. God watches with the most affectionate interest our weakest efforts to rise above the world and worldly things. Your feeblest attempt at prayer, your most awkward endeavour at self-examination, your most unintelligent perusal of the Scriptures, if entered upon sincerely, will be most kindly welcomed and aided by Him. He does not despise the beginnings of sincere piety. He listens with delight to the very first sigh of sincere repentance.

III. But, beyond this, we are reminded that GOD HAS GIVEN US ALL INSTRUCTION BY EXAMPLE: even as the eagle by "spreading abroad her wings" teaches her young how to fly, God has taken upon Him our nature, and has lived upon earth, in order to teach us how to live. Jesus Christ was "God manifest in the flesh"; and His whole life was spent in teaching His disciples the ways of holiness and peace. "His whole life is our rule; not indeed His miraculous works; His footsteps walking on the sea, and such like; they are not for us to follow; but His obedience, holiness, and humility are our copy, which we should continually study."

IV. THE SPEEDY AND SUFFICIENT HELP WHICH GOD GIVES HIS PEOPLE IN THE HOUR OF NEED OR DIFFICULTY. The eagle is represented as "taking" her offspring, and "bearing them on her wings" When the eagle has prevailed upon her young to fly from the dizzy crag on which her nest is seated, their faltering pinions might give way, and they might drop helplessly to the ground, did she not dart to their help the moment their strength failed, and support them with her own wings in time to save them. Thus God acts to the believer. Though you tremble you shall not fall; though you faint you shall not be lost. It is said by some writers that, when the young eagles are attacked by the fowler, the mother bird will fly under them, and place herself between them and their enemy, so that his arrows cannot hurt them unless they first pierce through her. Whether this be true or not, it may serve as an affecting emblem of Christ's love to His people. He has gone between us and our enemy. He has received in His own bosom the arrows which were meant for us: our wounds have been endured by Him: He has shed His life's blood for us, to save us from destruction.

V. THAT THE LORD IS OUR ONLY HELP. "The Lord alone did lead him; and there was no strange god with Him.

(John Tagg, M. A.)

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.)

The sentence should read thus: "As an eagle stirreth up his nest, fluttereth over his young, He spreads abroad His wings," etc., the person spoken of in the last clauses being God Himself.

I. A GRAND THOUGHT ABOUT GOD. What he brings into view are the characteristics common to the eagle and the vulture: superb strength in beak and claw, keenness of vision almost incredible, magnificent sweep of pinion, and power of rapid, unwearied flight. And these characteristics have their analogues in the Divine nature, and the emblem not unfitly shadows forth one aspect of the God of Israel, who is strong to destroy as well as to save, whose all-seeing eye marks every foul thing, and who often pounces on it swiftly to rend it to pieces. But the action described in the text is not destructive, terrible, or fierce. The monarch of the sky busies itself with tender cares for its brood. Then there is gentleness along with the terribleness. The strong beak and claw, the eye that can see so far, and the mighty spread of wings that can lift it till it is an invisible speck in the blue vault, go along with the instinct of paternity; and the fledglings in the nest look up at the fierce beak and bright eyes, and know no terror. The impression of this blending of power and gentleness is greatly deepened if we notice that it is the male bird that is spoken about. Modern tendencies, legitimately recoiling from the one-sidedness of a past generation, are now turning away far too much from the Old Testament conceptions of Jehovah, which are concentrated in this metaphor. And thereby we destroy the love in the name of which we scout the wrath. "Infinite mercy, but I wish as infinite a justice too." "As the vulture stirreth up her nest" — that is the Old Testament revelation of the terribleness and gentleness of Jehovah. "How often would I have gathered thy children together," etc. That is the New Testament modification of the image. But you never could have had the New unless you first had the Old. And you are foolish if, in the name of the sanctity of the New, you cast away the teaching of the Old. Keep both the metaphors, and they will explain and confirm each other.

II. AN ILLUMINATING THOUGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE. What is it all for? To teach us to fly, to exercise the half-fledged wings in short flights, that may prepare us for and make it possible to take longer ones. Every event that befalls us has a meaning beyond itself; and every task that we have to do reacts upon us, the doers, and either fits or hinders us for larger work. Life as a whole, and in its minutest detail, is worthy of God to give, and worthy of us to possess, only if we recognise the teaching that is. put into picturesque form in this text — that the meaning of all which God does to us is to train us for something greater yonder. Life, as a whole, is full of sound and fury, and signifies nothing unless it is an apprenticeship training. What are we here for? To make character; to get experience; to learn the use of our tools. Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones. So life is meant for discipline, and unless we use it for that, however much enjoyment we get out of it, we misuse it.

III. A CALMING THOUGHT AS TO THE VARIETY OF GOD'S METHODS WITH US. To "stir up the nest" means to make a man uncomfortable where he is; — sometimes by the prickings of his conscience, which are the voices of God's Spirit often; sometimes by changes of circumstances, either for the better or for the worse; and oftentimes by sorrows. The straw is pulled out of the nest, and it is not so comfortable to lie in; or a bit of it develops a sharp point that runs into the half-feathered skin, and makes the fledgling glad to come out into the air. We all shrink from change. What should we do if we had it not? We should stiffen into habits that would dwarf and weaken us. We all recoil from storms. What should we do if we had not them? Sea and air would stagnate, and become heavy and putrid and pestilential, if it was not for the wild west wind and the hurling storms. So all our changes, instead of being whimpered over; and all our sorrows, instead of being taken reluctantly, should be recognised as being what they are, a loving summons to effort. Then their pressure would be modified, and their blessing would be secured when their purpose was served. But the training of the father eagle is not confined to stirring up the nest. What is to become of the young ones when they get out of it, and have never been accustomed to bear themselves up in the invisible ether about them? So "he fluttereth over his young." It is a very beautiful word that is employed here; the same word that is used in Genesis about the Spirit of God "brooding on the face of the waters." And it suggests how near, how all-protecting, with expanded wings, the Divine Father comes close to the child whose restfulness He has disturbed. A vile piece of Greek mythology tells how Jove once, in the guise of an eagle, bore away a boy between his great wings. It is foul where it stands, but it is blessedly true about Christian experience. If only we lay ourselves on God's wings — and that not in idleness, but having ourselves tried our poor little flight — He will see that no harm comes to us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

(with Psalm 57:1): — Here we have two experiences strikingly different and yet closely related to each other.

I. We have God's assurance that in His dealings with His people during their sojourn through the wilderness HE HAD ACTED TOWARDS THEM AS AN EAGLE TOWARDS HER YOUNG WHEN SHE WOULD TEACH THEM HOW TO FLY. This illustration enforces an important truth, namely, the training of the Jews by God to the healthful exercise of the growing powers within them, and the supplementing of such by His own great might, so that those who were "no people" should become "a people among the nations of the world." That was a marvellous training by which Israel was taught how to fly, a degraded people how to become a mighty nation. This represents God's method of dealing with His people — the process of training through which you and I are called to pass if we are His. God in each case begins with a pitiable object, a poor sinner broken down in heart and purpose, one who has no spirit left in him, and who withal may have fallen into the lowest depths of sin. Even though he be degraded to the greatest possibilities of human degradation, God will take up that poor man shattered in hope and expectation, and he will yet be borne up as on the wings of eagles.

II. We have another aspect of God's dealings with His people, namely, THAT OF SHELTERING THEM UNDER HIS WINGS, AS THE MOTHER BIRD DOES HER BROOD IN THE HOUR OF STORM AND DANGER. "Yea, in the shadow of Thy wings," etc. There are some of us who know what it is to be on God's wings when He takes us in flight, when He inspires us with courage and teaches us to use our wings. There are others of us who have come to that experience when after all the flying, after all the doing, all the enduring, we are weary at heart, and we seek shelter under His wings, just as the eagle after her flight with her little ones takes them back into her shelter, and in effect says, "You are tired now, I will put the wings which have borne you when wearied in flight all round you to protect you alike against the storm and the foe." Thus the little ones will not even hear the storm without. They have felt the hard side of the wing: they feel the soft feathery side of it now, and the mother's love, like her warmth, goes through every young bird that gathers under her wings. The Psalmist knows what it is to have been on the wing of God, borne upon the storm so that he might learn how to fly; but now he thanks God that when he has become weary of the storm, because it is too much for his strength, he is taken back into the nest, under the warmth and shelter of that wing which formerly sustained him. There are some of you who are almost always in the shadow of God's wings. The day is drawing to a close, all the activities of life are almost over, and God, ere He takes you to His heaven, bids you come and shelter yourselves beneath His feathers.

(D. Davies.)

I. THE WAYS OF GOD CANNOT FAIL TO APPEAR STRANGE AND UNACCOUNTABLE TO THE EYES OF MEN. A grateful recognition of this is the secret of a strong and a contented mind. That my life and destiny are not in my own hands; that the glorious dream of a "Divinity shaping our ends, rough-hew them how we may," is something more than a dream; that there is an intelligence and a wisdom greater than our own, presiding over the eyrie of every human life, — is there anything but dumb despair staring us in the face in the abandonment of a faith such as that?

II. UNINTERRUPTED PROSPERITY AND EASE IS GOOD FOR NO MAN. It engenders a false security. It blinds a man to the slenderness of that thread on which all things human hang. It creates a boldness that is not of God, that leads away from God, and sometimes lower things still follow in its train, How proud, how intolerant, how unsympathetic a protracted run of success can make a man! Is unalloyed prosperity good for a nation? This wonderful history of Israel, the true image and picture of all histories, answers "No." The records of that people almost resolve themselves into this: a succession of prosperities, and a succession of lapses into idolatry and sin. Visitation after visitation is necessary to stir up their idle nest. Is unalloyed prosperity good for a family? Do you invariably find the moral and religious tone high? Are the children thoughtful and unselfish? Is life an earnest thing? Or is not this too often the characteristic of the home: family self-absorption, family selfishness? which may be just as real, and is just as heinous, as class or personal selfishness. No, the mere nest life of changeless comfort, or of unbroken happiness, is good for nobody. So the Almighty has ways of stirring it up lest any of His children — who should be like eagles, cleaving the air and facing the storm, and looking into the very eye of the sun — should be lying snug and comfortable, decrepit and useless, in their nest at home.

1. Remark on the method of the Divine operations. It is characteristic of this king of birds that it rises before its little ones, and bids them follow. At first the parent bird performs small circles, widening and making them larger, however, as they rise; but always keeping ahead and in sight, save when compelled to descend and carry an exhausted fledgling to a place of safety. Is that God's method too? Is it not?

2. In the greatest sorrow into which you may be thrown, God is near and in sight. Take care that no murmuring or rebellious spirit hides Him from your view when you need Him most.

(J. Thew.)

We have seen something like this, in the first place, in the domestic and secular life round about us. Parents rear up their children by the hearthstone of the family. And I pity the home which has no family altar. The fireside is pleasant in the family home, the society of brothers and sisters exceedingly delightful; but the nest is full — it will not hold them. They cannot always be boys and girls, earning nothing and consuming much; that would bring idleness and want. So prudent fathers stir up the nest. The eldest fly out and try to shift for themselves. At first it is hard work and sad. For a boy to push out from some sweet rural home into such a vast world as this has terrors in it. The lad is about to fly for himself. At first he sinks and is torn by the briars; but at length, by the blessing of God, he rises. He has strong arms to work, and a healthy brain to think. He has some failures, perhaps, but failures are rather blessings, for they discipline one to skill and trust in God. But with the aid of the strong arm of Him who helps those who help themselves he rises. By and by he builds his nest among the cliffs with the true eagle spirit. He becomes a thrifty merchant, a useful citizen. Best of all, it is when parental prayers are remembered, and by God's grace he reaches that highest style of man — a fervent Christian. Now, in the next place, let us look at the spiritual aspect of the conditions. God deals with Christians as an eagle deals with her young. He sees we are all trying to nestle. We fill these earthly nests for ourselves — fill them with all manner of comforts — and then settle down and fix our affections on them. Wealth increases, ambition grows. The old residence is given up, and a new one is built. Earnest, benevolent work for Christ — prayer meetings, and all that style of godliness — come to be as much tabooed in that luxurious home as a leper would be tabooed in London. If bankruptcy is allowed to bring that splendid estate to the hammer, do you wonder? And if death comes in, and writes paleness on some cheek of roses, do you wonder? God saw His children were beginning to nestle, and determined, for their souls' good, to stir them up. And so He stirred up the nest — not in revenge, not in cruelty; He did it in love — love to the sinner and love to the immortal souls of those who were flinging away their life in self-indulgence. The third part of this prolific text is this: when an immortal soul nestles down in sinful joy or worldly possessions, awakened, unconverted, is not that a terrible calamity? Can a worse curse come upon any such soul than to be let alone? If it is true that a young eagle, left alone, would become a mere weakling, starved, and never able to fly, how much more true is it that every soul, if left to itself, will come to ruin! It is Divine love that first awakens the sinner, even if it be at the cost of making the heart bleed. Nobody likes to be wakened up from a comfortable sleep at midnight. But if you hear the fire alarm, and see the smoke belching out from the opposite neighbour's house, and somebody rushes out through the suffocating smoke into your hall and cries "Fire! fire!" you do not strike him; you drop on your knees and tremblingly thank him with all your heart. He roused you, but saved you. When one of our Arctic companies of explorers went to search years ago for Sir John Franklin among snow and icebergs — alcohol froze in a bottle by their side, and the thermometer went to seventy degrees below freezing point — the poor fellows, overcome with cold, lay down to sleep. Warm homes and delightful firesides mingled with their visions. But the leader knew that half an hour more of that delusive sleep would leave every one of them corpses on the ice. He roused them up. They said, "We are not cold; we only want a little rest." Half an hour more would have left them stiff. So their leader struck them, boxed them, bruised them — anything to drive them off the slumber. Poor fellows! they staggered down into the cabin, but they were saved. The arm that roused them was the arm that saved them.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Here we see the explanation of that strange and roundabout chapter of Israel's history; the dislodging and disquieting touches in Egypt are followed by the leading of them round and round in their desert wanderings for forty years. They were a carnal, earthly, and self-pleasing people among the fleshpots of Egypt, and under oppression were sinking into all the vices, weaknesses, and superstitions of their slavish condition. God will not settle His land with such; and no mere sudden stroke will drive the evils out of them. It must be done by a lengthened educative progress of mingled tenderness and severity —

"Even as a bird each fond endearment tries,

To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies."By rudimentary instructions, by type and symbol, by the elements of law and prophecy, by passing them through sifting ordeals, by marching them about and about, so as to ventilate their low proclivities, and get rid of their baser qualities, He sought to winnow them of their chaff, letting multitudes of them die, and others be born into a new state of things, until at last they became quite a different people, with other aims and capacities. The eaglets wings are grown. Their first feeble flight and earthly flutterings have changed into a bolder and higher swoop. The Lord had stirred them and weaned them from their nest; often, too, He left them to themselves, then came timeously to their rescue, bare them on His pinions, and carried them all the days of old — a process still familiar in the experience of His graciously taught people, weak and slow in their heavenward flight.

(A. H. Drysdale, M. A.)

The power of aerial flight, of leaving the earth and traversing the fields of circumambient air by the use of wings, is the most perfect mode of locomotion we know of, and one of the most wonderful of physical prerogatives. It is the one that man most desires and covets, and yet that has most defied attainment or imitation. It is doubtless this longing for a life of ampler freedom and wider scope that has given birth to the idea that the power of volantation will be a human attribute in another stage of existence. But, though denied to man as a physical attribute, the power of aerial flight seems more fitly than any other to illustrate the activities and movements of the soul. We speak of the flight of thought, scarcely conscious of the use of metaphor. The eagle possesses this physical power in the highest degree. But the eagle's power of flight needs strenuous nurture. The position of the eyrie where the young are reared enhances the difficulty of this training. It is usually on a ledge of some precipitous rock, or shelving escarpment beneath the beetling brow of a craggy cliff. The eagle's young cannot, therefore, be lured or driven forth from the nest and allowed to flutter to the ground as the young birds of lower nest and habitat. They must be led forth with judicious care, lest their first flight prove their last.

I. The first truth with which this inspired object lesson impresses us is — THE ESSENTIAL GREATNESS AND STUPENDOUS POSSIBILITIES OF OUR NATURE. Man is not a low creature, with no potencies to be developed, no noble aptitudes to be brought into play, no faculties in which the prophecy of high achievement lies. He is an object of Divine regard and care; and he is that because, far above every other terrestrial creature, he is a sharer of the Divine nature, and capable of a life that, in all save infinity of scope, reflects the life of God. He is infantile — a mere fledgling as yet; but it is the infancy of a glorious being, with a possibility of growth of which an immortal existence is the only adequate term. He is a fledgling, but a fledgling of an eagle's nest.

II. Another truth which this striking object lesson illustrates is — THE STRENUOUSNESS OF THE DIVINE NURTURE. The eagle stirreth up her nest, and fluttereth over her young, not that she may delight her young in the nest, make them content therewith, and detain them there, but that she may lead them forth, induct them into a life of grander scope, and make them actually the great, free, competent creatures they were meant to be. There is an appearance of harshness and severity in this until we realise what it all means. How can the parent eagle take the young ones forth on such perilous adventure, and even stir up the nest and lure them forth to do it? So is it with the Divine training of our souls. God loves us with a love so deep and true that it can afford to be severe; yea, that must and will be severe, as the unfolding of our nature and the shaping of our life may require. The love that only indulges and does not nurture is rebuked even by the instinctive care of lower creatures. But God's love transcends all the love of finite beings, and the finest effects of either instinctive or intelligent love only dimly reflect its surpassing and perfecting grandeur. To a merely sentimental view God's nurture of His children does seem severe. We deem our safety and weal to consist in remaining in the nest, but God knows otherwise; and He acts on His sure knowledge, not upon our misapprehending ignorance. He will not allow us to remain callow and crude. The nesting life may be beautiful, but it must be brief, for it is inceptive. He breaks up the nest of authoritative instruction and easy and implicit faith. We build for ourselves nests of faith, but neither can these abide; and we build and build again, but always with the same merely temporary result. In hours of spiritual exaltation and vigour wondrous vision is accorded, and wonderful disclosures are made. We see the centring Christ. And straightway we propose to build our tabernacles and there abide till faith is changed to sight. Yea, we say that we can never doubt again. The nest is stirred as soon as we begin to live supinely therein, and faith must encounter new trials that it may exult in new triumphs. So is it, too, with our nests of experience. How sweet these are! How deep the peace, how rich the joy, how intense the delight which they afford! What clear and permanent gain they seem to denote! And how confidently we assert that life can never more be the same, can never more move on the old levels, or know the old ungladdened struggle, and sterility of joy. But these experiences are to gird us for the struggles that are to be, as well as to crown the struggles through which we have passed. Their best result is attained when this is realised, but, whether it be realised or not, the nest is stirred. And so it is also with our nests of achievement and of satisfaction therewith. What gladness comes to us sometimes in our work, what sense of achievement, what evidence of acceptance and success! But even these nests, substantial as they seem, abide not. Sometimes they last for a very little while, not even from morning to evening service on the Sabbath Day. So God stirs up the nest in which His children would live a supine or circumscribed life. Men are not for nests, but for flight. God does indeed give us nests, but He gives us also wings; and the wings are the richer gift. But God does not leave us alone when He leads us forth from the nest. He is with us in all the adventurous essays to which He constrains us. These times of nest stirring are the epochs of spiritual advancement. The past is annulled and a grander future opens. Life becomes more real, acquires grander range, wider scope, and sublimer pitch.

III. THE AGENCIES WHICH GOD EMPLOYS IN THIS NEST STIRRING. They are sorrow, disappointment, vicissitude, opportunity, voice, vision, inward rest, and other things which cannot be tabulated.

IV. ONE DAY GOD WILL BREAK UP OUR LAST EARTHLY NEST. Death is a mounting upward. It is a necessary fulfilment of the present life. Here we never reach the sun toward which we soar. We cannot even steadily gaze upon it; it burns and blinds us; but we shall. The eagle's fabled flight to the sun is a pagan prophecy of our destiny. And God will be with us in that last long flight.

(J. W. Earnshaw.)

In describing His dealings with His people, the Lord often makes use, in Scripture, of similitudes taken from the natural world. A more vivid impression is thus made upon our minds of what He intends us to know, than if He had just employed mere didactic precepts; and besides, we are taught to associate thoughts of spiritual wisdom with the circumstances and events which pass before our natural eyes.

I. THE ORIGIN OF GOD'S CARE IS EXHIBITED IN THE FORMER PART OF THE TEXT: "The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in a waste howling wilderness." It was unmerited kindness, not earned by any deservings, which influenced the Lord in His choice of Israel as His own peculiar inheritance. It was not for their goodness that God revealed Himself to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob as their God; but it was in consequence of that revelation, it was a result of His sovereign love as the cause. Now, this is admirably descriptive of the first cause of every believer's salvation, which the apostle expresses in plain unmetaphorical language, when he says, "Not that we loved God, but that He loved us."

II. THE MODE IN WHICH GOD EXERCISES HIS CARE. God does not treat men as mere machines. It is true He works in us both to will and to do, and without His aid we can do nothing; but then He would have us fellow workers with Him, yea, to work out our own salvation. His object is to draw out our faculties and powers, so that they may be consecrated to His service, and show forth all His praise. "The eagle stirreth up her young." And so God rouses and stirs up His people. There is a work to be done, there are talents to be employed, there is labour to be undergone. They must not, therefore, lie like children in the lap of quiet indulgence. The eagle "fluttereth over her young." And so God allures His people onwards. The eagle "spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them upon her wings." When actually taken out of the nest, she supports them that they may not fall, and flies underneath them to keep them from falling. And so God interposes betwixt His people and destruction: He bears their burdens; yea, He carries them with sustaining and encouraging love. Such is the mode, as indicated by the text, in which God exercises His care over His people: how much at heart He has their welfare in this may be seen from the expression, "He kept him as the apple of His eye." So jealously did He watch over Israel of old, that He would suffer no weapon formed against them to prosper.


1. The first is a lesson of humility: we stand by faith: we must not be high-minded, but fear. I have already shown you that the first beginnings of godliness are the gift and operation of God. I may add that we every day need His watchful care to keep us whereto we have already attained. No creatures can be more helpless or destitute, if deprived of a parent's care, than the young of any bird. And therefore the similitude of the text gives us a lively idea of our continued dependence on the Lord for all the strength and blessing we require. Were He to leave us we could not take a single step aright: our safety, therefore, and our comfort, depend upon our close and humble waiting upon Him. This is a lesson hard to learn: it is indeed, in general, acquired only by painful experience. Men will not practically keep in view the humbling truth that without Christ they can do nothing.

2. We may also learn a lesson of caution. They were not all Israel which were of Israel; for there were many disobedient and estranged from God, even in the nation particularly called by His name. And therefore we are not to take for granted that the privileges of which I have been speaking belong to us, or that the care I have described is exercised over us, unless we can discover the genuine marks in ourselves of reconciliation with God.

3. I observe, again, we learn hence a lesson of childlike and implicit faith. It is not wise, it is not grateful in God's people to be continually questioning, as they are very apt to do, His power or His love. Such conduct is a walking not by faith but by sight.

4. Lastly, I would say, we here have a lesson of a more devoted love. What cold and slothful hearts must we have, if they are not moved by a recital of such tenderness as the text unfolds!

(J. Ayre, M. A.)

The inauguration of a Christian experience is the inauguration of a new life. A man moves out into a new element. Walking by faith instead of by sight is a good deal what trying to fly is to the young eaglet. He shrinks from it. He looks longingly back at the nest. And hence the complete change of sphere, this detachment of old formulas of thought, old habits of life, old desires, old principles of action, old aims, is a literal stirring up of the nest. God wants him where He alone can lead him.

(M. Vincent, D. D.)

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