Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the fowls of the air.
All Commentaries on Job 28:21 Go To Job 28
Gregory The Dialogist
2. For in Holy Scripture ‘birds’ are sometimes given to be understood in a bad sense, and sometimes in a good sense. Since by the birds of the air occasionally the powers of the air are denoted, being hostile to the settled purposes of good men. Whence it is said by the mouth of Truth, And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it; [Matt. 13, 4] in this way, because evilspirits besetting the minds of men, whilst they bring in bad thoughts, pluck the word of life out of the memory. Hence again it is said to a certain rich man full of proud thoughts; the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head. [Matt. 8, 20. Luke 9, 58.] For foxes are very cunning animals, that hide themselves in ditches and caves; and when they face the light, they never run in straight courses, but always by crooked doublings. But the birds as we know with lofty flight lift themselves into the air. So, then, by the name of ‘foxes,’ the crafty and cunning demons, and by the title of the ‘birds of the air’ these same proud demons are denoted. As if he said, ‘The deceitful and uplifted demons find their habitation in your heart; i.e. in the imagination of pride,’ ‘but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head,’ i.e. ‘My humility findeth not rest in your proud mind.’ For as by a kind of flight that first bird lifted itself up, which said in the uplifted imagination of the heart; I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the North. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High. [Is. 14, 13] Mark how he in flying sought the regions on high with pride. Which same flight also he recommended to the first of human kind as well. For they themselves by flying as it were tried to go above their own selves, when it was told them that they should taste and be like gods. And while they seek after the likeness of the Deity, they lost the blessings of immortality, which same would not by dying have gone into the earth, if they had been willing to stand with humility upon the earth.
3. But, on the other hand, ‘the birds of the air’ are wont to be put in a good sense, as in the Gospel the Lord, when He was declaring a likeness of the kingdom of heaven by a grain of mustard seed, said, Unto what is the kingdom of heaven like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and waxed a great tree, and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. [Luke 13, 18. 19.] For He is Himself ‘a grain of mustard seed,’ Who, when He was planted in the burial place of the garden, rose up a great tree. For He was ‘a grain,’ whereas He died, but ‘a tree,’ whereas He rose again. ‘A grain,’ through the abasement of the flesh, ‘a tree,’ through the mightiness of His Majesty. ‘A grain,’ because we have seen Him, and He was not regarded [Is. 53, 2]; but ‘a tree,’ because fairer in form than the children of men. [Ps. 45, 2] The branches of this tree are the holy preachers. And let us see how wide they are stretched out. For what is said concerning them? Their sound is gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. [Ps. 19, 4] In these ‘boughs the birds of the air rest,’ because the holy souls, which by a kind of wings of virtues lift themselves up from earthly thinking, do in the word and consolations of these take breath from the wearying of this life. And so in this place after it was said of ‘Wisdom,’ It is hid from the eyes of all men; it is rightly added, It is kept close also from the fowls of the air: because being settled in the corruptible flesh, these very persons do not in seeing penetrate the mightiness of His Nature, who earn by holy contemplation even now to fly with wings.