Hummingbirds are tiny iridescent creatures that are predominantly found in the Americas. They belong to the Trochilidae family and are known for their agility and swiftness as well as their attraction to vibrant flowers from which they suck nectar. These incredible birds have fascinated nature lovers for years but spiritual seekers can also learn a lot from them. Hummingbirds hold a lot of symbolic significance in various cultures and they can also be used as symbols with Biblical meaning for Christians.
What is the Biblical meaning of hummingbirds?
The characteristics of the hummingbird are powerful symbols of Biblical messages. For instance, the hummingbird’s ability to fly backward is a symbol of the importance of retreat and review. The bird’s incredible sight is a symbol of the power of vision without which scripture says we will perish.
Hummingbirds in the Scriptures
The hummingbird is not explicitly mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. However, the symbolism can be drawn from several sections in the Bible. For instance, the Psalmist refers to birds that sing among the branches (Psalms 104:12). This is a poetic description of birds that can resonate with the imagery of hummingbirds that gracefully flit among the trees in search of sustenance as they create unique melodious sounds. The following are some other possible symbolisms of hummingbirds in the Bible.
Reflection and retreat
The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly both backward. This hummingbird quality should remind Christians of the importance of reflection and retreat. Just like a bow and arrow, pulling back is often beneficial as it can empower you to go even further than you would have. The power of reflection is portrayed from as early as the Genesis account of creation. After completing each day of creation, God would review and conclude that everything was good. It is beneficial to regularly take a step back to review and reflect on your progress. This is good advice not only in your spiritual walk but also in all other pursuits.
When prophet Elijah reached the end of his road, he retreated to the wilderness. As scripture demonstrates, he was disillusioned, tired, and ready to die. He even prayed as much. But after retreating to the wilderness, an angel appeared and severed him a meal that gave him spiritual and physical strength to complete his assignment (1 Kings 19:7-15). Jesus also illustrated this timeless truth in the New Testament when he made a habit of retreating to the mountains away from the hustle and bustles of ministry (Luke 5:16). In another instance, Jesus told his disciples to go to a quiet place and rest (Mark 6:31).
These examples from scripture can be taken as lessons on the importance of taking a step back to review and reenergize.
The hummingbird travels long distances – sometimes even 500 miles at a time – to find the best spots for nectar. With their well-adapted beaks and their small size, they squeeze into impossible positions to suck from the sweetness of the flowers. From a biblical perspective, this quality of hummingbirds can be a symbol of spiritual hunger. The word of God is described as or likened to honey in several portions of scripture (e.g. Psalms 119:103, Proverbs 16:24,).
This can be likened to the sweet nectar the hummingbird perseus. Just like the hummingbird flies long distances to seek nourishment, the Christian must diligently seek nourishment from the word of God. During one of his most famous sermons, Jesus made the following remark;
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6.
Jesus was reminding Christians that if you approach God with a genuine desire for nourishment, God will provide it. The Hummingbird is therefore not only a symbol of spiritual hunger but also a symbol of spiritual growth. Because as scripture says, those who are hungry will be filled. Filling in this sense refers to spiritual nourishment which results in spiritual growth.
Vision and discernment
The hummingbird can also be a symbol of vision and discernment. Hummingbirds are known to have an affinity for orange and red flowers. As they fly around, they are scanning to see which flowers have their preferred colors and those are the bushes/trees the birds will investigate. Once they approach a potential tree, the hummingbirds then rely on their impeccable sense of smell to know which flowers are full of nectar before they insert their beaks to have a feed.
When Abraham separated from Lot, God told Abraham to lift up his eyes to see the region that God would give him. In the words of scripture, God gave Abraham possession of the land as far as his eyes would see (Gen 13:14-17). This illustrates the importance of vision. God will bless you but he wants you to develop a vision for your life. Scripture says he will do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask (Eph. 3:20). BUt how can you ask when you do not have a vision?
Vision works hand in hand with discernment. The smelling ability of the hummingbird is what can be a symbol of discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge well. Going back to the example of Abraham, before he parted with Lot, he gave him the chance to pick whichever side he wanted to go and Abraham said he would go the opposite side. Developing vision often calls for good judgment. There are decisions you need to make when zeroing down on your life goals. Often times, you have to sacrifice the interesting in order to safeguard the important. This is where discernment comes in handy. Through vision and discernment, you will distinguish yourself and set yourself up for success.
To sum it up, there are lots of biblical lessons that we can draw from the hummingbird. These include the importance of stepping back (the hummingbird’s ability to fly backward), developing a life vision (the hummingbird’s affinity for red and orange flowers), and the power of spiritual hunger (from the diligence with which the hummingbird searches for nectar). These incredible birds may not be mentioned explicitly in the Bible but the lessons and symbolism are clearly painted for us in the Holy Book.