By Irvin Himmel
“As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place” (Prov. 27:8).
A bird may have a valid reason for leaving her nest. If a cat climbs up to the nest and threatens to catch the mother bird, or if the nest is destroyed, she is forced to leave. In prophesying the downfall of Moab, Isaiah compared the daughters of Moab to “a wandering bird cast out of the nest” (Isa. 16:2).
A bird may leave the nest after the young are able to fly and it is time to migrate. When I lived in Florida, purple martins arrived in mid-February every year to nest in houses in the back yard; in July they would depart. While raising her young, a mother bird frequently leaves the nest to bring food to her little ones.
The proverb refers to the mother bird which wanders from her nest, deserting her eggs or nestlings. When she strays from her accustomed feeding area and familiar surroundings, she exposes herself to great danger.
Like the bird which wanders from her nest, some people wander from their place.
How One May Wander From His Place
1. By leaving home. Some young people run away from home when they are too immature to make their way in life. They are like a young bird that jumps from the nest before having the strength to fly. It is not uncommon for a husband to abandon his family, or for a wife to desert her husband.
2. By leaving the work for which one is suited. It is not wrong to change jobs, but many times people leave the work for which they are best equipped and get into something for which they are ill-prepared.
3. By forsaking duty. Every person has his place to fill in the church, in the home, in the community, and in his line of employment. A lot of problems arise because people wander from their place of duty.
4. By departing from God. Every Christian’s place is a position of fidelity to God. Some stray from that place. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).
Why Some Become Wanderers
1. A spirit of unrest. “There are many that do not know when they are well off, but are uneasy with their present condition, and given to change. God, in his providence, has appointed them a place fit for them and has made it comfortable to them; but they affect unsettledness; they love to wander. . .” (M. Henry).
2. Greener pastures elsewhere. Cows sometimes tear down a fence to get to the grass on the other side because it looks greener. Many people suppose that they can find a better job, improved economic conditions, or a more desirable neighborhood just by moving to another location. They rove around constantly in search of those greener pastures.
3. Instability. Much wandering about is caused by unwillingness to stay on a fixed course. In some instances, a person goes from job to job because he really does not want to work. The problem may be that one cannot make up his mind and stick with a decision. Many people are fickle, vacillating, given to change more than to steady application of themselves.
Consequences of Wandering 1. Poverty. Every now and then someone calls up wanting financial assistance from the church. Usually, he is from some place hundreds of miles distant. He is roving about and has come to poverty. If he had a job back home, he left it before he had something else lined up. Now he is stranded.
4. Misery. Young people often leave home in quest of “freedom.” They land in some big city like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. Soon they are broke and in a wretched state. Drugs, prostitution, and crime offer what seems to be a way of survival in the city jungle. Oh, that they had not wandered from their place!
5. Loss of congenial companionship. People who wander away into strange places usually find themselves surrounded by others who have no pity on them. Remember the prodigal son in the far country? Like that young man, they are strangers among strangers.
6. Idleness. Wanderers frequently idle their time away roaming here and there. Many become vagrants and vagabonds.
.. They, who are never easy at home, in their own families, and employments, will never prosper, or be happy any where… There may be cases, in which it is a man’s duty, and prudence to change his situation, or employment; but then he will do it upon good grounds, and with deliberation. Every man hath calls from home; but a prudent man will be glad to return, when the end of his absence is affected” (T. Scott).
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 16, p. 1
August 18, 1994