Here, in a classic message from 1871, Charles Spurgeon considers the implications of the psalmist’s words: “The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies” (Psalm 104:16-18, KJV).
David [the psalmist] evidently traveled amongst the works of God, admiring and adoring. Let us go with him and see if there is something to be learned among the birds and the storks, the wild goats and the conies.
Psalm 104 clearly teaches that each creature has its appropriate place: Birds with their nests for the cedars of Lebanon, storks for the fir trees, wild goats for the high hills and conies for the rocks. A lion in a cage is a very different creature from a lion in the wilderness. The stork looks wretched in his wire pen. You would hardly know him as the same creature if you saw him on the fir trees. Each creature looks best in its own place. Take that truth and use it for yourself.
Perhaps you may think, “If I were in a different position, I could glorify God more.” But I am sure the goat would not show the wisdom of God so well in a fir tree as he would up on a high hill, and you would not display the grace of God so well anywhere else as you can where you are. “Ah,” says the young Christian, “I am only an apprentice; if I were a master, I think I could then glorify God.” If you cannot magnify Him in your apprenticeship, you will not do so when you become a journeyman. Be slow to leave your calling until you have plain indications from providence that you ought to do so, for many a man in moving from his place has been as a bird that has wandered from its nest. Bow your soul to His sovereign will. God appoints our position infinitely better than we could appoint it, even if we could have the choosing of it.
God has not made the wild goat like the cony, nor has He made the stork like any other bird, but He has made each to fit the place it is to occupy. And He makes your experience suitable for bringing out some point of His glory which could not be brought out otherwise. Be yourselves. Never endeavor to mold your character to look like a certain person whom you admire. Ask the Lord, who made you new, to let your person come out as He meant it, and whichever grace He meant to be prominent, let it be prominent. If you are meant to rush into the thick of the battle, then let courage be developed. If He designed you to lie in the hospital and suffer, then let patience have its perfect work. But ask the Lord to mold you after His own mind. He will find for you the place that He has created for you. There, His name shall be most glorified. Serve your day and generation till your Master calls you home.
Shelter for Every Creature
It also appears from Psalm 104 that every creature God has made is provided with shelter. Birds fly to the trees, the stork to the fir, the wild goat to the high hills and the cony to the rocks. There is a shelter for every one of these creatures. If God has given each creature a place of refuge then–depend upon it–He has not left your soul without a shelter. Everyone is certainly in danger, and every thinking person knows it. Assuredly He has not made us and left us without a refuge.
You have prospered in business and have enjoyed good health–but are you never conscious of a cold fear which makes the body tremble? The mind looks forward and considers, “Shall I live forever?” Have you never said within yourself, “O, that there were a place where I could hide myself, never more to tremble! O, that I could get my foot upon a rock and no longer feel that a quicksand is beneath me! O, that I knew of truth sure and indisputable!” If you have such longings, surely there must be a provision to meet them.
Beloved, there is a Shelter for us from the sense of past guilt. We have broken our Maker’s law, and therefore we are afraid. But our Maker came from heaven to earth. Jesus, the Christ of God, was made man and bore–that we might never bear–His Father’s righteous wrath. Because Christ suffered for me, my guilt is gone. My punishment was endured by my Substitute. Therefore, I hear His voice, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” (Isaiah 40:1, KJV). He who trusts Christ says: “Now I have no fear about the present, nor about the future. Let catastrophe follow catastrophe. Let the world crash and all the universe go to ruin; beneath the wings of the Eternal God I am safe. All things must work together for my good, for I love God and have been called according to His purpose” (Cf. Romans 8:28). What a blessed Shelter! When we enter fully into the truth of our adoption by God, we are filled with unutterable peace. The Holy Ghost, the Comforter, abides in us, and we fly to Him and receive consolations so rich and powerful that this day we feel at peace in the midst of discomforts; and if perplexed, we are not in despair. There is a shelter in the atonement of Christ, in the Fatherhood of God, in the abiding presence of the Comforter.
Neglecting Our Shelter?
I close with this observation: Each creature uses its shelter. I never heard of an animal that neglected its shelter–but I have heard of people who have neglected their God. The cony in danger which does not seek its rock is foolish; the soul in danger which does not seek its Savior is insane. God Himself becomes the shelter of sinners, and yet sinners despise their God. The Son of God opens His side and lays bare His heart that a soul may come and shelter there in the crimson cleft, and yet that soul for many a day refuses to accept the shelter. The stork knows its fir tree, the wild goat its crag, and the cony its cleft–but the sinner knows not his Christ. Ah, humanity, what has befallen thee?
Creatures would soon perish if they were always doubting and fearing as to whether they had a right to providential provisions. The wild goat on the crag does not say, “Have I a right to be here?” No! He must be somewhere, and there is a crag which exactly suits him. Yet though these creatures know the provision of their God, the sinner does not recognize the provisions of his Savior. He quibbles, “I think it cannot be meant for me; I am afraid it is too good to be true.”
And yet here is Christ provided for sinners, just the sort of a Savior sinners need, and the encouragement is added, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”(John 6:37, KJV); and “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17, KJV). Do not be standing out against the generosity of a sin-pardoning God, who bids the sinner come. To believe is to trust Jesus–to trust His suffering, to trust His atonement and to rely upon Him alone for salvation. May God enable you to do it for Christ’s sake.