“I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.” (Psalm 102:7)
Anyone who’s ever felt lonely, isolated, wandering or wondering should find solace and comfort in this verse. The preceding verse says: “I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.” I don’t know for a certainty that it was David who penned this psalm. And while I do know that David spent time in the desert (as did many biblical figures), I also know that the psalmist in question, whomever it may be, knows what they’re talking about. Whenever you go through the particular struggle, something happens to the credibility of your words when, afterwards (afterwords?) you talk about it.
“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” (Psalm 55:6)
The same sentiment expressed in the above verse is the same as the one with the sparrow. I think there’s a reason the writer used the image of the sparrow in that one. Whereas many other translations simply word it “small bird” or some such synonym, the sparrow connotes a sort of nervous, if anxious, energy. Granted, many birds are like that and the smaller they get, the more erratic they seem to act. To where you have the hummingbird who must feed every five minutes to maintain its metabolic rate. With the sparrow, however, we often see them hopping around in groups, socializing, talking, generally acting like an ornithological “social butterfly”. The Hebrew word translated “sparrow” is tsippor. As an aside, Moses’ wife Zipporah‘s name is the feminine version of that word. It might give some insight into her temperament. I suppose you’d have to be full of energy to keep up with him. So the sparrow is “alone upon the housetop”. Notice when Jesus speaks in Matthew’s Gospel of the same. He says “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (10:29) The psalmist certainly thought that they were alone. But Jesus seems to sow up this little loose thread from the Psalms by stating that we’re not alone. And indeed “of more value” to God “than many sparrows.” (10:31)
The entirety of Psalm 102 is a plea for help, understanding and restoration. It’s punctuated throughout with such keywords as consumed, withered, bones, dust, wrath, destitute and death. There is however, quiet, meditative beauty in these words. But it’s understandable why the psalmist would want to fly away.
Now take a deep breath and brush all that aside. Look again at the word for sparrow. “Tsippor”. It’s translated as sparrow, as I mentioned earlier, because of the hopping connotation. There are other reasons to be “alone upon the housetop”. Spiritual persecution happens at times because you might be the only person who sees something. The only person to whom God has entrusted a secret. Who knows? “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14) God has secrets. Secrets that He wants to share. And if it so happens that He lets you in on a corner of wisdom that the rest of the world has yet to see and appropriate, it’s understandable how you’d be hopping around, alone, with excitement. Keep it to yourself until God gives the word. Then, as it says again in Matthew (10:27; Matthew 10:27/Psalm 102:7, interesting) “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye…” Where? “…upon the housetops.”
“Every word of God is pure…” (Proverbs 30:5) One reason I like the King James above all others is that it stands up to deep, detailed biblical exegesis, and shines with a beauty that other translations have yet to reveal–in my opinion. That being said, the Bible is the Bible. Whatever version you feel most blessed to read is most certainly the version you’re meant to ingest. Oh, every five minutes or so.