Description of the Hawk and Eagle.
B. C. 1520.
26 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? 27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. 29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. 30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.
The birds of the air are proofs of the wonderful power and providences of God, as well as the beasts of the earth; God here refers particularly to two stately ones:–
1. The hawk, a noble bird of great strength and sagacity, and yet a bird of prey, v. 26. This bird is here taken notice of for her flight, which is swift and strong, and especially for the course she steers towards the south, whither she follows the sun in winter, out of the colder countries in the north, especially when she is to cast her plumes and renew them. This is her wisdom, and it was God that gave her this wisdom, not man. Perhaps the extraordinary wisdom of the hawk’s flight after her prey was not used then for men’s diversion and recreation, as it has been since. It is a pity that the reclaimed hawk, which is taught to fly at man’s command and to make him sport, should at any time be abused to the dishonour of God, since it is from God that she receives that wisdom which makes her flight entertaining and serviceable.
2. The eagle, a royal bird, and yet a bird of prey too, the permission of which, nay, the giving of power to which, may help to reconcile us to the prosperity of oppressors among men. The eagle is here taken notice of,
(1.) For the height of her flight. No bird soars so high, has so strong a wind, nor can so well bear the light of the sun. Now, “Doth she mount at thy command? v. 27. Is it by any strength she has from thee? or dost thou direct her flight? No; it is by the natural power and instinct God has given her that she will soar out of thy sight, much more out of thy call.”
(2.) For the strength of her nest. Her house is her castle and strong-hold; she makes it on high and on the rock, the crag of the rock (v. 28), which sets her and her young out of the reach of danger. Secure sinners think themselves as safe in their sins as the eagle in her nest on high, in the clefts of the rock; but I will bring thee down thence, saith the Lord, Jer. xlix. 16. The higher bad men sit above the resentments of the earth the nearer they ought to think themselves to the vengeance of Heaven.
(3.) For her quicksightedness (v. 29): Her eyes behold afar off, not upwards, but downwards, in quest of her prey. In this she is an emblem of a hypocrite, who, while, in the profession of religion, he seems to rise towards heaven, keeps his eye and heart upon the prey on earth, some temporal advantage, some widow’s house or other that he hopes to devour, under pretence of devotion.
(4.) For the way she has of maintaining herself and her young. She preys upon living animals, which she seizes and tears to pieces, and thence carries to her young ones, which are taught to suck up blood; they do it by instinct, and know no better; but for men that have reason and conscience to thirst after blood is what could scarcely be believed if there had not been in every age wretched instances of it. She also preys upon the dead bodies of men: Where the slain are, there is she, These birds of prey (in another sense than the horse, v. 25) smell the battle afar off. Therefore, when a great slaughter is to be made among the enemies of the church, the fowls are invited to the supper of the great God, to eat the flesh of kings and captains, Rev. xix. 17, 18. Our Saviour refers to this instinct of the eagle, Matt. xxiv. 28. Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Every creature will make towards that which is its proper food; for he that provides the creatures their food has implanted in them that inclination. These and many such instances of natural power and sagacity in the inferior creatures, which we cannot account for, oblige us to confess our own weakness and ignorance and to give glory to God as the fountain of all being, power, wisdom, and perfection.
– Matthew Henry Commentary