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Of Sparrows and Solomon

Of Sparrows and Solomon

We hear Psalm 83 at Mass today after listening to more from Moses.  Today, he’s been setting up the tabernacle and the Tent of Meeting, so really, we are supposed to be considering of the psalm in that context and thinking of the Israelites’ journey towards the promised land.

Here it is:


My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God. 
The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood;
she lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They walk with ever-growing strength,
they will see the God of gods in Zion. 
One day within your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the house of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.

However, after considering the wisdom of Solomon last Sunday, it’s easy to imagine these sparrows and swallows nesting in the Ark’s more permanent home: the Temple of Solomon.  ‘All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon’ (2 Chron. 9:23) and each brought gifts to add to the riches that already outdid them all…

… and yet Jesus (who in John chapter 2, remember, speaks of his own body as a ‘temple’ or ‘sanctuary’) declares, ‘here, I tell you is something greater than the temple’ (Mt 12:6) ‘and there is something greater than Solomon here’ (Mt 12:42).  As is so often the case, the psalms reveal the hidden Christ and reflect for us now something of our relationship with him.

Our souls are constantly ‘longing and yearning’.  As St Augustine famously reflected, ‘You have made us for yourself  Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their home in you’.  Those sparrows were welcome to nest in the temple, even though they were ‘two a penny’ (in Matthew, but five for tuppence in Luke!).  Similarly, we – though unworthy – are we invited to make our home in Christ.

Let us pray that we chose wisely each and every day to dwell in the courts of the Lord and forever sing his praise.



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