Whistling is in the Bible

 

Many are surprised to learn that whistling is  mentioned in several places in the Bible. The metaphor is of the shepherd whistling to control their flocks. In the Bible it is always God, as the Great Shepherd  who is doing the whistling:

Judges 5:16 NIV: Why did you stay among the campfires [or saddlebags] to hear the WHISTLING for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of the heart.

Isaiah 5:26 NIV: He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he WHISTLES for those [Deut 28:49  Re: Curses for Disobedience] at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily!

Isaiah 7:18 NIV In the day the LORD will WHISTLE for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria.

Zechariah 10:8 NASB I will WHISTLE for them to gather together, For I have redeemed them; And they will be as numerous as they were before.

Expanded commentary:

Judges 5:16 NIV

Why did you stay among the campfires [or saddlebags] to hear the WHISTLING for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of the heart.

The tribe of Reuben refused to help their fellow Israelites in battle, for unstated reasons. Their disobedience may have stemmed from fear of the enemy, fear of antagonizing those with whom their business prospered them, or lack of faith in God.  But here we also have the first mention in the Bible of Whistling, and an explanation. Shepherds whistled to manage their flocks of sheep, or used handmade whistles if necessary, and the sheep responded. Shepherds whistle so that distant sheep can hear their commands. This passage helps one understand the metaphor of God whistling for his people or for those whom He will bring to discipline his disobedient people. Jesus is the Shepherd and we are His sheep.

Isaiah 5:26 NASB

He will also lift up a standard for the distant nation, And will WHISTLE for it [Deut 28:49] from the ends of the earth, And behold, it will come with speed swiftly.

Isaiah 5: 25-27 NIV

25. Therefore the Lord's anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.

26. He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he WHISTLES for those [Deut 28:49] at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily!

27. Not one of them grows tired or stumbles, not one slumbers or sleeps; not a belt is loosened at the waist, not a sandal thong is broken.

This passage describes what God would do if the people disobeyed Him, as set forth in Deuteronomy 28. Assyria during the reign of Ahaz tormented Israel and in 722 BC they destroyed the northern kingdom and scattered the people throughout its own empire.

Isaiah 7:18 NASB

In that day the LORD will WHISTLE for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Isaiah 7:18 NIV

In the day the LORD will WHISTLE for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria.

Flies and bees are symbols of God's judgment. Josiah was killed and thereafter Judah had only weak kings. The Egyptians carried off Josiah's son. The next king, Jehoiakim, was taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.

Zechariah 10:8 NASB

I will WHISTLE for them to gather together, For I have redeemed them; And they will be as numerous as they were before.

Finally the good news for Judah. This chapter describes how the LORD will care for Judah, and it is truly glorious! NSV says I will "signal" for them and gather them in. In this chapter God has said:

I will restore them, they will be as though I had not rejected them, they will be as numerous as before, and much more.

ref: [Deut 28:49] Re: Curses for Disobedience

The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand. (And it gets much worse as you read on through verse 57.)

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- April 07, 2006 -