On La Gomera, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, a language that sounds like a bird song is being revived. In a land of deep valleys and steep ravines, schoolchildren and tourists are learning how whistling was once used to communicate for distances up to 2 miles. One goat herder who is using this ancient language once again to communicate with his flock said, “They recognize my whistle as they recognize my voice.”

The practice of whistling also shows up in the Bible, where God is described as a shepherd whistling for His sheep. This image could be what the prophet had in mind when he described how God will one day whistle to bring a wandering and scattered people back to Himself (Zech. 10:8).

Many years later Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). That may be the whistle of a shepherd. Sheep don’t understand words, but they know the sound that signals the shepherd’s presence.

Misleading voices and distracting noises still compete for our attention (cf. Zech. 10:2). Yet God has ways of signaling us, even without words. By events that can be alarming or encouraging, He reminds us of His guiding, protecting, and reassuring presence.