I have been reading through 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st Kings lately in the English Standard Version (ESV). So far I have found seven references to “birds”, “birds of the air”, or “birds of the heavens.”
Five of the verses have to do with the birds coming to do something, especially to eat. I’ll save that for later. One verse is keeping the birds from eating and the other is totally unrelated to eating.
Let’s start with the easy one. In 1 Kings, Solomon was made king after his father, David, passed away. He asked the Lord for wisdom to know how to rule and do what was right. He was still a youngster. He was given wisdom that has surpassed any.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. (1 Kings 4:29-33 ESV)
To save a war, seven sons were given to the Gibeonites, who hanged them. Then the mother of two of them, Rizpah, came and spread sackcloth over their remains and protected them from the birds of the air. That is told in 2 Samuel 21.
Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. (2 Samuel 21:10 ESV)
The next five incidents have to do with judgment and the birds coming to feed on the carcases of those who died.
Goliath, the giant Philistine threatened David with:
The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” (1 Samuel 17:44 ESV)
Then David told Goliath that the LORD would cause the Philistines to be delivered to David and the birds would be feasting on him and the other Philistines there.
This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, (1 Samuel 17:46 ESV)
Keep reading in 2nd Samuel 17 and you will find out who the birds feasted on.
In 1 Kings 14:11, 1 Kings 16:4 and 1 Kings 21:24, three bad kings and their families were judged for the evil they did of not serving the LORD and causing their subjects to also fall into sin.
Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab all died and the birds of the heavens were invited to come and eat. Not a pretty picture, but God keeps His Word.
Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the LORD has spoken it. (1 Kings 14:11 ESV)
Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat. (1 Kings 16:4 ESV)
Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat. (1 Kings 21:24 ESV)
Not knowing for certain which birds actually came and did the eating, my guess is that it would be those from the birds of prey families. Those birds are known to be carnivorous and would have arrived at the LORD’s will as prophesied.
Some of the birds of the large Order of Accipiitriformes – Raptors would have been involved. Those are the New World Vultures, Secretarybird, Ospreys, Kites, Hawks and Eagles. Then the Falcons and Caracaras of the Falconiformes Order possibly would have arrived. Owls from the Strigiformes Order might also have come.
But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 ESV)