His eye is on the sparrow

Sparrow: photo by Luis Rock - http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=profile&l=luisrock62
His Eye is on the Sparrow
Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Martin’s lyrics, of course, elude to Mathew 10:29-31. I see nothing wrong with the song, but I do notice that the words stop a little short of Jesus’ full orbed teaching. She sings that God’s eye is on the sparrow.” If not careful, we may be tempted to underestimate this glorious truth. God does not watch simply as a passive spectator, but the Biblical wording implies Gods full knowledge and consent. Seeing and taking notice of every sparrow fall requires omnipotence, but Jesus points past that mind boggling truth to something even more profound – God’s sovereign governance. In other words, not only does God’s watchful eye see the sparrow, but his hand of providence guides its flight.

I love the way the The Heidelberg Catechism defines providence as “The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.”

Southern Baptist theologian, John L. Dagg, wrote in 1857:

Some persons are unwilling to attribute to God the care and management of minute and unimportant events. They consider it beneath his dignity to be concerned about such trivial matters. They believe in a General Providence over the affairs of the world, exercised by general laws; but a Particular Providence, exercised over every particular incident of every man’s life, enters not into their creed. But the Scriptures are plain on this subject. The fall of a sparrow is a very trivial event, yet it is affirmed by the teacher from heaven, to be not without our heavenly Father. If great events happen according to general laws, it is equally true of small ones; and operation of these laws, in the latter case, must be as well understood, and as perfectly controlled, as in the former. Moreover, it often happens, that very important events depend on others that are in themselves trivial and unimportant.

Early SBC president, P. H. Mell, further explained:

“Predestination is that eternal, most wise, and immutable decree of God whereby he did, form before all time, determined and ordain to create, dispose of, and direct to some particular end, every person and thing to which he has given, or is yet to give, being; and to make the whole creation subservient to, and declarative of, his own glory….That this ultimate object might be attained, and the end infallibly secured, he ordained, with unerring certainty, all the means necessary, both in the world of matter, and in the world of mind. He not only fixed, from eternity, all the forms, positions, relations, and motions of matter, even to the numbering of the hairs of our heads, and deciding when a sparrow should fall — in directing the motions of the particles of dust in the atmosphere, (Isa. 40:12) and ordaining when the sun should shine, (Job 9:7) and when the wind should blow, (Psalm 135:7), but he “fixed from eternity all the circumstances in the life of every individual or mankind and all the particulars which will compose the history of the human race from its commencement to its close.”

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers:

You see the birds congregate in the autumn, ready for their flight across the purple sea. They fly hither and thither in strange confusion. The believer in providence holds that the wing of every bird has stamped upon it the place where it shall fly, and fly with never such vagaries of its own wild will, it cannot diverge so much as the millionth part of an inch from its predestinated track. It may whirl about, above, beneath, — east, west, north, south — wherever it pleases; still, it is all according to the providential hand of God. And although we see it not, it may be, that if that swallow did not take the precise track which it does take, something a little greater might be affected thereby; and again, something a little greater still might be affected, until at last a great thing would be involved in a little. Blessed is that man who seeth God in trifles! It is there that it is the hardest to see him; but he who believes that God is there, may go from the little providence up to the God of providence. Rest assured, when the fish in the sea take their migration, they have a captain and a leader, as well as the stars; for he who marshals the stars in their courses, and guides the planets in their march, is the master of the fly, and wings the bat, and guides the minnow, and doth not despise the tiniest of his creatures. You say there is predestination in the path of the earth; you believe that in the shining of the sun there is the ordinance of God; there is as much his ordinance in the creeping of an insect or in the glimmering of a glow-worm in the darkness. In nothing is there chance, but in everything there is a God. All things live and move in him, and have their being; nor could they live or move otherwise; for God hath so ordained them.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for this wesite. This is the song God placed on my heart. It is beatifully displayed here.
    He is truly awesome!

    Blessings,
    Joan

  2. Thank you for the message I received this morning. I am getting ready to undergo chemotherapy and radiation for cancer of my breast. When I awoke this morning at four the words of this song came to my mind and I was comforted. God be with you and me this day.

  3. Just this week this song was on my mind. But for the first time, I really considered to myself what the words were conveying to me. We may often time become disccouraged over things; some big and some small, but if God takes the time to oversee the smaller things in this world like that of a sparrow, an ant, or even the creation of a small seed germinating into a beautiful flower, how much more is He attentive to our (mankind) needs. “What is man that thou art mindful of him”. We can be encouraged today that if we “know Jesus” there is no need for us worry period(.)

  4. I was so glad I was able to find this. After my son was born and I brought him home from the hospital I would rock him to sleep while I sang him this song. He is now 29 years old and a seargent in the Army serving in Iraq. I wanted to send him the words to this song and I could only rember the first verse and the chours. I am marking this site as one of my favorites. Thanks

  5. I so enjoyed the “Preacher’s” responses to this Poem/Song. I read the life story of Ethel Waters,the lady who in my lifetime made this song “hers” and for years I thought she had written it. Coming from the life she did, rejected by her mom because she was the unwanted product of rape, yet found Christ through the Billy Graham Crusade, and for years her testimony was the song “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. It has become a real source of hope and encouragement to others as I share in services & conferences. Thanks you for such a lovely website!

    Respectfully,
    Gary Clevenger

  6. i love this song! it always comes to mind when i think that no one cares about me.. and then i remember Him. Thank- you Jesus for being my true to my life.

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