The Swan and the Crane

 There is an old legend of a swan and a crane.

swan-1405163-mA beautiful swan alighted by the banks of the water in which a crane was wading about seeking snails.

For a few moments, the crane viewed the swan with curiosity, and then asked, “Where did you come from?”

“I came from Heaven!” replied the swan.

“And where is Heaven?” asked the crane.

“Heaven!” said the swan. “Heaven! Have you never heard of Heaven?”

And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City.

She told of the beauty and the gates, and walls of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves will be for the healing of the nations.

In eloquent terms, the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane.

Finally, the crane asked, “Are there any snails there?”

“Snails,” repeated the swan, “No, of course there are not.”

“Then,” said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pools, “You can have your Heaven, I want snails!”1

Job 15:16 says, describing those in sin as a “man who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!”

The word “filthy” means in Arabic, “to be sour, as milk, and then to be corrupt, in a moral sense.”

“Who drinks iniquity like water” means sinners love sin, and is as greedy of it as a thirsty man is of water. He practices it as if it were his very nature – as much so as it is to drink. Some believe this alludes to the large amount of water which a camel drinks.2

“A child, or an idiot, may kindle a fire which all the city cannot quench.

In spite of all their utmost efforts, it might destroy both the homes of the poor and the palaces of majesty.

So a sinner, though he cannot do the least good, can do the greatest evil. The Almighty only can save him, but he can destroy himself” (Arnot).3

Copyright © 2015 D & L Publications    All rights reserved.



  1. Walter B. Knight, Knight’s Master Book Of New Illustrations, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI., Copyright 1956, pp. 277 – 278.
  1. Adult Teacher Supplement, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO. 65802, 1968, p. 41.