Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.Luke 12:6-7
The first thing we need to look at, is just how much sparrows cost. And ask yourself why sparrows?
- Luke writes: “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?”
- Matthew writes: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?”
Some say, “There is a problem here between Luke and Matthew. The writers of the Bible aren’t consistent. It just goes to prove the Bible can’t be trusted.” That’s nonsense! We all know you get discount for buying more of any one item. So you can buy two sparrows for 1 cent or you can buy 5 sparrows for 2 cents, having the extra sparrow thrown in for free. Moral of the story: buy your sparrows in bulk and you get a better deal.
The original text says 2 sparrows for an assarion, 5 sparrows for 2 assaria. The assarion was the tenth part of the denarius, hence strictly speaking, the value of the assarion was about one penny or 2 cents. The denarius was a Roman silver coin, 25 of which made up an aureus, the standard gold coin of the empire, in the time of Augustus, which was equal in value to about one guinea or $5.25. In today’s currency, the value of the denarius would be about 20 cents, and this was the ordinary wage of a soldier and a day labourer.
The strouthos is a term which referred specifically to the sparrow or generically to any small bird. The term that is actually used in this verse is the word strouthion, which is the diminutive of strouthos, a little sparrow. Sparrows and other small birds were caught, killed, skinned and roasted, and sold in the market places. The statement above is focused on the fact that sparrows were “a dime a dozen,” to use the American idiom. Meaning they were not worth very much. Sparrows are probably the most common bird on the planet. They are everywhere in their teeming millions. In fact one in five sparrows was free. Do you see how the clause, “Not one of them is forgotten before God” in this verse takes on added significance? One sparrow in five is effectively forgotten because it was sold for nothing. One sparrow is thrown in for free. But even though that may be the case, God doesn’t forget that one sparrow. God takes notice even of the “free one”. Not one of them is neglected by Him.
The word for “forget” is the word [epilanthanomai] meaning to “forget” as the primary meaning, but it also has the following secondary meanings: to neglect, overlook or care nothing about. In God’s sight, nothing is neglected or not cared about. Not even the smallest sparrow and especially not the free one.
Don’t have any fear, don’t ever worry about your standing with God. This is a durative present imperative. Don’t worry at any time. Never ever worry about God neglecting you. Each single person is of immeasurably greater value than many sparrows. Not one of you are forgotten, neglected, overlooked or not cared about.
Remember the song:
“I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name.”Israel Houghton:
Indeed, God does know your name, and yours and yours and yours and yours and yours and yours. (there are seven of them in case you didn’t bother counting). There are times when people forget our name. Our name is important to us. We hope it will be important to other people too. We love it when people remember our name. Ever since I have been teaching (I started teaching high school in 1973) I always tried to know every student’s name early in the year. I still do the same thing now in teaching Deeper Bible. I take photos of people and attempt to learn their names, because names are important. I don’t learn every person’s name in Deeper Bible Level 101 because there are too many and not all tell me their names. I forget people’s name too, even though they have told me. I meet and know just too many people. I confess it. People come up to Tania and I in the mall and say, “Hi”, but for some, I have no idea who they are. I know they are from JPCC but I don’t know their name. There are just too many of them. By Deeper Bible Level 201, I know the names of everyone in class. It’s important.
But aren’t you glad God is in another stratosphere when it comes to knowing names. He knows EVERYTHING about you. Oh yes, He knows your name. He knows your history and he knows your future. He knows your hurts on the inside, as well as the scars on the outside. He knows you through and through. Not only does he know every square centimetre of your body, all of your scars, but your unique fingerprint He knows too. Oh, the police may not have it on record but God has your fingerprint imprinted on His mind. But even more astounding than that, God has the hairs on your head numbered. Now that is an amazing statement. They say each human being has about 140,000 hairs on their head (when they are all present and accounted for). The statement here in Luke is more amazing than it seems at first. Not only does God know how many hairs are on your head, but the statement “the very hairs on your head are all numbered”, carries the sense that He has every one individually numbered. So not only does He know how many you have currently, but He also knows you just lost hair number 126,678.
Now you have to admit that is enough to make your hairs stand on end, all XXX,XXX of them. Astounding!
In the light of that little snippet of information:
- Do you think there is anything that God doesn’t know about you?
- Do you think that there is any way in which God doesn’t care about you?
Ponder on that for a while. See you back here for the next Gem, hopefully with all your current hairs intact.
To suppose that temporal things are too little for our condescending God, is to forget that he observes the flight of sparrows, and counts the hairs of his people’s heads. Besides, everything is so little to him, that, if he does not care for the little, he cares for nothing.C H Spurgeon
God governs the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?Benjamin Franklin
Don’t just be enlightened by His principles, be impacted by His presence.Robi Sonderegger
Don’t worry about tomorrow…God’s already there!Mathias Grehn
When you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.Oswald Chambers
God’s task of numbering the hairs on my head is getting easier and easier; He probably has them named.Ian Vail