The Language Of Whistling

Ask rain from the Lord
    in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
    and he will give them showers of rain,
    to everyone the vegetation in the field.
For the household gods utter nonsense,
    and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
    and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
    they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

“My anger is hot against the shepherds,
    and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
    and will make them like his majestic steed in battle.
From him shall come the cornerstone,
    from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
    from him every ruler—all of them together.
They shall be like mighty men in battle,
    trampling the foe in the mud of the streets;
they shall fight because the Lord is with them,
    and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.

“I will strengthen the house of Judah,
    and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
    and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
    for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior,
    and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
Their children shall see it and be glad;
    their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord.

“I will whistle for them and gather them in,
    for I have redeemed them,
    and they shall be as many as they were before.

– Zechariah 10:1-8

On La Gomera, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, a language that sounds like a bird song is being revived. In a land of deep valleys and steep ravines, schoolchildren and tourists are learning how whistling was once used to communicate for distances up to 2 miles. One goat herder who is using this ancient language once again to communicate with his flock said, “They recognize my whistle as they recognize my voice.”

The practice of whistling also shows up in the Bible, where God is described as a shepherd whistling for His sheep. This image could be what the prophet had in mind when he described how God will one day whistle to bring a wandering and scattered people back to Himself (Zech. 10:8).

Many years later Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). That may be the whistle of a shepherd. Sheep don’t understand words, but they know the sound that signals the shepherd’s presence.

Misleading voices and distracting noises still compete for our attention (cf. Zech. 10:2). Yet God has ways of signaling us, even without words. By events that can be alarming or encouraging, He reminds us of His guiding, protecting, and reassuring presence.

Father, it is a noisy world. Thank You for
always calling to us above the din and
ruckus that distracts us. Help us to recognize
Your voice and follow Your leading.
The call of God can always be heard.
– Mart De Haan
Our Daily Bread
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