Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. (Psalm 124:7)
This world was created to sustain us, to provide provision for every human need. Yet our God has taken it further than our physical, mental, and emotional needs. He uses it to provide spiritually as well by creating a living, breathing, interactive tapestry of examples and illustrations of spiritual truths. Woven into the plants, trees, flowers, insects, birds and animals is the vibrant testimony of the depth and detail of our creator God. We are surrounded by ‘God in action,’ if we would but look and see as He reveals His nature, His love, His care, and His provision. Today’s little bird flying free is but one reflection of spiritual truth that can teach us so much.
Freedom from the snare of the fowler is a wonderful gift of grace for every believer.
To understand the full implications of this great gift, we need to look at the nature of birds and how it applies to us. By and large, birds are argueably among the most defenceless of creatures. They lack size, strength, teeth, and claws. Even the beautiful, proud birds of prey with their huge beaks and talons have limited capabilities. Disable a wing and you disable a bird, irrespective of its nature or size.
The snare, for a bird, is the ultimate disabling device. Their strongest defence mechanism is flight. Prevent this, and the bird is trapped and, ultimately, at your mercy. You can, essentially, do with them whatever you choose, and they are helpless to prevent it. Once trapped, a bird is a helpless victim under the control of the fowler. They may struggle and try to resist, but the panicked flapping of wings will only tire them out more quickly. They succumb to a state of trembling fear, immobilized by their instinct for inevitability. They yield to their condition.
People, obviously, are not at all different. We range from the tiny and helpless through to the aggressive, powerful, and strong. But all of us share a common Biblical truth. We are in danger of falling into a snare of some kind and, once trapped, are utterly unable to extricate ourselves. This raises up a few interesting things that are worth considering when meditating on today’s verse.
To understand the grace of freedom from the snare of the fowler, we need to begin with an understanding of the nature of a snare. As we look at this, keep in mind that Satan is a master fowler. He knows us. He’s taken time to learn our strengths and weaknesses. He deliberately sets out to entrap us in order to destroy us. What we learn about the snare is critical to understaning how to obtain freedom from the snare.
Firstly, it’s not readily apparent. It’s designed to be as ‘invisible’ as possible. A snare is never an out-and-out frontal attack that’s easily visible, something we see in advance and are able to take flight to escape it. It’s subtle, it’s devious, and it’s cunningly put together. It’s deliberately hidden where it’s most likely to be effective and in such a way that it’s most likely unexpected.
Secondly, it’s devised and designed specifically for a particular prey. Snares are target-specific. They are never random or generic, but are tailor-made to provide the best possible chance of success. This implies a knowledge of the target, and it implies experience with different snares to determine which works well and which is relatively ineffective on different prey. Even among birds, snares for waterfowl will be different to snares for quail. The knowledge of the prey enables the fowler to devise something that will ensure there is no possibility of freedom from the snare.
Thirdly, a snare is designed to entrap. Their sole purpose is to render the prey helpless and remove any chance of escape. There are no bolt holes, no weak points, and no do-overs. Once the bird is in the snare, that’s it. They are unable to use their wings and escape is impossible. This purpose highlights an important aspect – snares are never progressive. They are designed to be instantly effective. Their success depends on being able to trap the bird as quickly and efficiently as possible. As such, there’s no opportunity to discover it in time to avoid it or take evasive action.
Fourthly, snares are often baited, particularly if the prey is canny and wise. While some birds may be relatively easy to snare, others may have finely-honed instincts that require special attention. Bait is always something that is particularly appealing to the target, and it’s selected and arranged very carefully. It’s made to appear enticing and perfectly natural in order to tempt without raising suspicion. It’s something the target will have great difficulty resisting, even to the point of overcoming their natural instincts.
Finally, snares are deliberate. They are designed, planned, premeditated, and implemented with intent. They are contrived and set to accomplish the fowler’s purpose, and that purpose is always entrapment, helplessness, control, and destruction. The fowler desires to rob the bird of freedom, to keep it bound and at his mercy, to toy with it, to harm it, and to kill it. What a powerful message to believers.
We all live in danger of the fowler’s snare. Some of us may simply blunder along, oblivious to potential danger. Others, who have perhaps learned wisdom, are aware of the danger and are on the lookout. We have learned to trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit and to heed the warnings and teachings of the Word, so we can recognise danger when we see it and so avoid it. This ability is not in and of ourselves. Our God rescues us from the snare even before we enter it. That’s grace, and that’s the power of Christ in us.
But the real truth is that, on our own, we are all vulnerable. It takes only a moment of weakness, a moment where we take our eyes off Christ for an instant, a moment where the bait strikes a nerve and stirs up something we haven’t yet faced and dealt with. That’s the moment of the snare, when we stand with one foot poised above the danger, a split second in which we can continue or turn back to Jesus. Too often, the lure of the bait numbs our senses. We don’t hear the Spirit’s caution, or we choose to ignore it. We focus on what we see and what looks and feels good, rather than on what God is actually saying.
That’s the moment of entrapment. It may seem like nothing. It may seem that we have emerged unscathed. But the real truth is that the trap is triggered. It’s done, we’re in, and there’s nothing we can do about it. That we don’t immediately perceive it is irrelevant. Once the trap is sprung we can’t go back. Like a little bird, we may continue to peck at the bait, happily assured that all’s good. It may take a day, a week, a month. But the moment will come when we see our utter helplessness and the reality that we are totally at the mercy of the fowler.
That’s the tragedy of those who don’t acknowledge Christ. They may even not recognise that they are trapped. They simply don’t see the problem, but they live their lives in the space allotted to them by the enemy. For Christians, the issue is one of spiritual fear. We discover that our puny strength is insufficient, that our faith is weak, and that our struggles are useless. That is the moment where the promise contained in today’s verse is so eloquent.
God has already made the way to release us from the fowler’s snare. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. At Calvary, Jesus destroyed the snare. He broke it completely. It no longer has the power to hold or to harm us. Entrapment becomes, then, a place of spiritual perception governed by the flesh. If we rely on self, on our own intellect, strength, emotional capability, and will, we will remain trapped. If we focus on the fowler, we remain under his control. But if we focus on Christ, we will find our ‘wings’ and fly out of the trap.
It’s critical to remember two things. Firstly, Christ is in us, and Satan cannot entrap Him. He tried, at the cross, and failed. He destroyed every snare, every bondage, and every trap that the enemy has at his disposal. Secondly, we are in Christ, and Christ exists beyond the power of Satan. He is above the power of Satan. This is the wonderful grace of God in action. We exist in Christ in a spiritual place that renders us above and beyond the power of Satan to keep us bound. In Jesus, we are already spiritually free, delivered, rescued, and escaped. Living in this truth isn’t always easy. Things happen to distract, disarm, and defeat us. The flesh intrudes with fears and unbelief, but none of this alters the immutable truth. There is no snare that can hold us unless we choose to remain in it.
Father, thank You for Your grace in providing the way out. Help us to discern the snares of the enemy, to walk in and be led by the Spirit, and to listen and acknowledge our weaknesses and tempations. Thank You for the assurance that even if we fall, You have already destroyed the traps and through the precious blood of Jesus have already bought us freedom from the snare.