His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Background Passages: Matthew 10:29-31; Matthew 6:26-27, 34; Philippians 4:6-7

In an age of contemporary worship music, there must remain a place in worship for the old hymns of faith. The messages of these songs, which stand the test of time and testimony, resonate within the depths of life’s most trying circumstances, grounded us again in the rich history of faith.

In the midst of trying times in our country and difficult days in the life of my family, I found myself thinking this week of one of those old standards, His Eye Is On The Sparrow.

The words to the song, penned in 1905 by Civilla Martin, became one of the most influential gospel hymns of the 20th century. The words were based on the inescapable optimism and faith of a woman known only as Mrs. Doolittle of Elmira, NY. The elderly woman, bedridden for more than 20 years, lived with her permanently disabled husband. Her husband continued to work each day despite having to propel himself to work each day in a wheelchair. During the initial encounter, an abiding friendship developed between the two families.

As they visited one day, Martin asked Mrs. Doolittle the secret of their happiness and hopefulness. As she beamed from her bed, Mrs. Doolittle responded, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.” The enduring and endearing faith inspired Martin to write the cherished hymn.

The song still touches God’s people, helping us find solace despite sorrow. Allow us to be lifted by steady conviction that God’s eye never wanders from us or our plight. The marrow of the song comes from a moment of reassurance found in Matthew as Jesus offered comfort to his disciples as he sent them in pairs into the countryside to share the gospel of Christ.

To ease their anxious hearts, he said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the hairs on your head are numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31)

Another time, Jesus encouraged his disciples to set aside their fears about the future. “Look to the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. ..” (Matt. 6:26-27, 34)

These verses serve to remind me that worry is an enemy of faith; that we must lay the concerns of this world and this time at his feet. The words of reassurance never promise an end to the bad times, but they do promise that we will not walk alone. For despite the turmoil in the world and in our lives, we God’s eye is upon us always.

That promise alone moves us from peril to peace. As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

So the words of the old hymn linger in my thoughts…

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.

I sing because I’m happy.
I sing because I’m 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.

Amen, and again, amen.

3 thoughts on “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”

  1. This message brought me back to my childhood. My Godly mother would sing this song in spanish. Thank you for bringing this home to my soul.

  2. Thanks for a lovely, lifting moment in my Sunday afternoon! Love you, Kirk, and am so proud of this ministry you have developed which is blessing so many lives.


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