Robins and the Glory of God

By: Jim Virkler; ©2012

One recent Sunday sermon at our church was entitled “Finding Ultimate Value.” The title was part of a sermon series designated “The Kingdom of God.” The pastor had challenged parishioners to elaborate on their personal views of “The Kingdom of God” and to submit their musings to the pastor in writing. One member’s vision of observing “ultimate value” within our vision of God’s kingdom brought him to contemplate the glory of God in creation. He chose to share his personal reflections with our congregation. The double-edged reinforcement of special revelation (God’s inspired word) and general revelation (God’s revelation of Himself in the natural world) is a powerful dual pathway to our understanding God and His kingdom. So it was that our pastor shared some observations of one of our “theologians in the pews” that Sunday morning.

That member chronicled a family of robins nesting in his back yard. The American robin does not shy away from nesting close to human habitation. Virtually all bird enthusiasts have observed robins nesting on window ledges, atop deck support beams, or even on lamp fixtures. Our local Wal-Mart open-air garden center hosted an opportunistic family of robins inhabiting a nesting venue in plain sight of customers. Our local parishioners’ robin family used a more conventional tree limb for its nest support, but the nest was, nevertheless, close enough to their home to snap startling pictures our friends shared with us through email. Their awareness of how a robin family manifests the glory of God in creation is an occasion for worship of the Creator as He fills us with wonder. We will let the author’s account speak for itself:

We found a robin’s nest outside our window this spring which was immaculately made not just in its basic wood frame but also in the fill material which was finally capped around the edges with adobe. I would have been willing to live in such a house. Then four beautiful eggs were laid, which quickly hatched into four struggling masses and big open beaks competing with each other for mother’s food. Within ten days they had all left the nest.

They were replete with their all weather avionics packages, including direction finders, social programs, temperature controllers, and an airframe which grew component by component from the inside out. All components maintain themselves with no need for annual overhaul. They learn all they need to know in just ten days. Their avionics are not jammable or hackable. They have no fear of malware. They know what to eat and what not to eat. Each year they know when to migrate and where to go even though they fly thousands of miles to get there and have never been there before.

Few people in our congregation could relate to the technical engineering skills with which their fellow congregant observed his robin family. However, virtually everyone could rejoice that many wonderful annual events of rebirth occur each spring in the animal world in our neighborhoods. These fascinating events are just a small portion of the beauty surrounding us in the world of nature. Listen to how the robin family helped trigger a sense of the glory of God in creation:

God’s nature surrounding me is a strong convincer of His powerful, glorious, and immanent presence…The more we delve into the discoveries of “science” in respect to the intricacies of the universe on the mega and macro scales, the more any reasonable person is awe inspired…The next step is the acknowledgement of the immense presence of a glorious Person…then new doors of glory open to reveal the mind of God and His salvation, which makes all other things pale and becomes the pinnacle of His glory…I can understand how in the heavenly realms the four living creatures never stop saying “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty (Rev. 4:6-8)…This is in a nutshell the only and appropriate way to express our unending awe and worship…

The 10,000 bird species in our created world are some of the soulish beings created by God possessing unique relationships with each other and with man. Each of these many species has been studied and catalogued for their qualities. In their own ways each gives joy to man for their beauty, song, and special adaptations. Beautiful Psalm 148 leads us on a praise journey from the heavens, down to many of earth’s species including birds, and back to the glory which is above earth and heaven.

Charles Spurgeon’s remarks on Psalm 148 quotes Scottish churchman Horatius Bonar’s “flying (winged) fowl” commentary on Psalm 148:10. He describes each sunrise as the awakening of birds to “turn the air to music.” American robins produce one of the earliest bird songs to be heard each morning at dawn. Bonar also poetically states, “Thus, the air is vocal. It has a hallelujah of its own,” referring to the bird songs of early morning.

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