The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20634   Message #667565
Posted By: Jeanie
12-Mar-02 - 07:33 AM
Thread Name: Who/what is the Great Speckled Bird?
Subject: RE: Who/what is THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD?
This question of the Great Speckled Bird came up outside Mudcat a few weeks ago, and out of curiosity I found myself spending ages trawling through (some of !) the 9,660 entries in Google and then through numerous Bible commentaries and concordances.

This is what I found, which has not yet been mentioned in previous posts:

Summary of the book of Jeremiah: Jeremiah warns the people of Judah about their coming captivity, which is God's judgement for their persistant sins and failure to live as God's people should. The people have chosen to ignore God; now God will ignore them, but only for a time. God also promises to restore His people when they turn back to Him. Jeremiah tells the people that judgement should not be looked at merely as punishment, but rather as a loving act by God to restore His people to Himself.

God's people had become vultures, birds of prey, and therefore unworthy of a place in God's house. Birds of prey were not allowed to be offered in sacrifice to God in the Temple.

They are continually pulling and pecking at one another, speckled with shed blood. They have made their country a cock-pit.

The Hebrew root word behind the word "speckled" is the same as the one behind the word "to colour", so as well as denoting a speckling with blood, it also denotes a blending together of the Law of Moses with the paganism of the surrounding nations, a mxing of the superstitious with the divine.

The birds round about (the surrounding nations) are against her. Those that have made a prey of others shall themselves be preyed on.

In other words, to be like a "great speckled bird" is not good ! However, underneath all of this wrath of God is His love for His people and the ultimate promise of His mercy.

This means that the implications, in various verses of the song,that the great speckled bird is somehow "better" than the rest, are theologically rather "off-beam". Likewise the part which mentions the bird's "meekness".

It seems to me that the songwriter has totally misinterpreted the Jeremiah passage in the first place. The great speckled bird in the Bible is certainly not something to be admired or aspired to.

This song was adopted by a denomination known as the "Church of God", who felt themselves attacked by other denominations, and therefore identified with the bird in the song being attacked by others. I didn't note down the reference, but when I was looking all this up, I did find a reference to Roy Acuff having been a member of the Church of God.

- Jeanie