Friday, January 5, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 60: The Rest of Birds

Key Verse

“In peace I will both lay myself down and sleep, for you, Yahweh alone, make me live in safety.” Psalm 4:8 WEB


How does a bird sleep in a tree? One may think they sleep in their nest. Most birds only live in a nest while they are raising young. They rest of the time they sleep perched on a branch. The mechanism God has given birds to stay in a tree during sleep is quite marvelous. As a bird begins to drift off to sleep its muscles relax just like you and I. As this happens the grip of the bird on the branch tightens increasingly. Birds have a special arrangement of tendons in their feet and legs that tighten as they lower into a resting position.

The large flexor tendons in the toes squeeze gradually so that the bird’s toes are automatically pulled in like a clamp creating an ever-tightening grasp. This enables the bird to stay supported upright in the tree without muscular effort. At the same time the bird lays its head on its back (as many birds do) for a nice feather pillow and drifts to sleep knowing it is perfectly safe even if a high wind rattles and shakes the tree. Most all birds have this unique clamp-like foot, even those that do not roost in trees, such as chickens.1

This amazing fact about birds holds a significant lesson for our spiritual life. Throughout the Bible God invites us to find rest in Him. He asks us to trust that he is in control of everything. He promises to give us rest, peace, and restoration. Resting in God’s promises can be very hard to do, especially when life seems to be going out of control. When life gets windy and tosses us about, we want to take more control of our life rather than resting more in Jesus and trusting Him. We must grow in our rest with God.

Learning to rest in God through the storms of life does not happen instantly, but it will happen if we continue to give our worry to God. King David, the author of Psalms, knew how to rest in God because he learned to through many difficult times. He knew he could sleep peacefully because Yahweh, or God, promised to make him live in safety. Birds know they can sleep peacefully in a tree even through a storm because God protects them. The very same promise is offered to each of us.


What is your favorite kind of bird?

Can you think of other ways God provides for the birds? (see Matthew 6:26-27)

How do we grow in our ability to rest in God?

Why do we experience hardship and trials if God promises us peaceful rest? (see James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28)


1 Allan and Helen Cruickshank, 1001 Questions Answered About Birds. (1958): 124-125. Grosset & Dunlap Publishers. New York. Print.

Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: Paolo De Marchi via