Symbolism of Ravens in the Bible: What a Raven Means

Ravens can be intimidating creatures. Their black feathers and long beaks make for a spooky figure, but what is the symbolism of Ravens in the Bible? Ravens in the Bible are not creatures to be feared, but creatures to be protected and cared for. 

We observe through many different Bible verses that ravens symbolize God’s provision, demonstrate God’s protection, and are used by God to do His will. Throughout various Biblical references, we can deduces this. 

Ravens might seem like scary creatures, but we might be able to learn something from them based on their portrayal in the Bible. 

Ravens As Symbols of God’s Provision In the Bible

There are a few instances in the Bible where ravens demonstrate God’s provision. The most blatant of these is from one of Jesus’ teachings. However, there are a few times in the Old Testament when Ravens are used to show God’s provision. 

The three examples of ravens representing God’s provision are found in: the story of Noah and the ark, the story of Elijah, and Jesus’ teachings. We can observe these 3 situations and determine that ravens are symbols of God’s provision, not just for the ravens, but for humans too. 

The first example of ravens representing God’s provision is found in the story of Noah and the Ark. Let’s look at that Scripture and analyze God’s intent behind it. 

The Raven in the Story of Noah and the Ark

The story of Noah and the Ark is a classic Hebrew Bible story with many great themes. It is one of the most familiar Biblical stories.  Some of the themes present are that God hates unrighteous living and that God provides for righteous things. Although we won’t focus on God’s hate for unrighteous living in this post, the ravens in this story reveal God’s provision for righteous things. 

The book Genesis accounts the story of Noah and that Ark, everyone on Earth is living unrighteously, so God plans to send a flood and start over with creation. Noah, however, is a man of God who finds favor with God. 

God tells Noah to build an ark because there is a flood coming. Noah builds the ark and takes two of each creature in it. The flood comes and Noah, his family, and all the animals are kept safe in the ark. 

The water stopped, and the ark ran aground on a mountain. There was no dry land though, so Noah and the animals had to wait on the boat. The raven is revealed in Genesis 8:6-7. 

It says this, “6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.”

Meaning of the Raven in the Story of Noah and the Ark

Based on the Genesis account, the raven was a crucial part of Noah’s story. The raven was provided for by God, and God used the raven to provide insight to Noah. 

There were ravens on the boat, which showed that God took care of the people and the creatures. For this reason, it can be deduced that ravens symbolize God’s care and provision in the Bible. 

Let’s look at the story of Elijah to find more examples of ravens in the word of God. 

The Story of the Raven in Elijah’s Life

Another example of ravens being creatures that represent God’s provision comes through the story of Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of God. He traveled telling people the things that God spoke to him. 

During his travels, many times God would direct him to go places and talk to people. Doing all of these tasks required provision. Food, water, and shelter were all important parts of Elijah’s survival on his journeys from place to place. 

In the book of Kings, we read about how God provided for him in the middle of a calling. God calls Elijah to go somewhere, and He provides for Elijah’s journey. 

1 Kings 17:2-6 says this, “2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

God called Elijah, but the calling did not come without provision for the journey. He told Elijah to go to a place and promised him that the ravens would supply food at that place.

This is the perfect example of ravens being a symbol of God’s love in the Bible. God sent the raven to get plenty of food and to bring it to where Elijah would be. 

Ravens are not smart enough to anticipate when people will need food, so this is clearly an act of God’s provision over Elijah. 

The Ravens in Jesus’ Teaching

Ravens don’t only appear in Old Testament stories, they also appear within Jesus’ teaching. Jesus was the savior of the world, but He was also an incredible preacher and pastor. In the New Testament, Not only did Jesus perform miracles, but He also spoke frequently about spiritual truth.

In one of Jesus’ teachings, He even uses a raven as a symbol of God’s provision. Jesus is taking a moment to teach his disciples in Luke 12. 

He says this in Luke 12:22-24, “22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

Jesus used ravens to explain the concept of God’s provision. Although a raven is a little thing, God still provides for them, and people are more valuable than birds. People were made in the image of God If God provides for the ravens, He’ll provide for us as well. These are the things that Jesus is teaching.

This is another great example of ravens being used as an example of God’s provision. The main idea is that if God provides for the ravens, He will provide for people too. People are capable of working for food, so they are much better off than the birds. 

That doesn’t mean we should not work to obtain food and shelter, but it means that we should not worry if God will provide when we do work hard. 

The Ark, Elijah, and Jesus’ Raven’s Summed Up

Ultimately the black raven is a symbol of God’s provision for both people and animals. In Noah’s story, God provided protection for the raven. God used the raven, in Elijah’s story, to provide for him. In Jesus’ teaching, the raven is a symbol that God cares enough for people to provide for them. 

I do not think that these provisions are always specifically food though. God might provide a job to pay for our needs. He might provide motivation and wisdom to help us move forward where we are. 

Even when we might be in a difficult situation, we can trust in God. He cares about human activity and it is clear through these examples of the ravens. 

Ravens truly unveil the love that our God has for us. They show us that no matter how we feel about our values, God will always take care of us. So, we can trust in God to provide for us every day. 

Let’s look at another thing that ravens symbolize in the Bible: God’s protection. 

Ravens As Creatures Protected By God in the Bible 

Raven’s do not just symbolize God’s provision in the Bible, but they also represent God’s protection. God’s provision is when God gives us things to help us to survive, but God’s protection is when He keeps things from us to keep us safe. 

For this reason, the story of Noah and the Ark and Old Testament law are both examples of God using Ravens to show his provision. 

God’s Protection in the Story of Noah and the Ark

As discussed earlier, Noah was on the ark with many different animals and his family. They ran aground and waited for the water to recede. Noah released a raven to look for dry ground, but it did not find any. 

This situation might be looked at as a clear example of God protecting Noah and his family. The land was not ready for Noah and his family, and without the raven, Noah might have been convinced to leave the ark prematurely. 

If Noah left the ark before the water receded enough it would have been difficult for him to live off of the land. The soil and the rest of the area would not be prepared to host both Noah, his family, and all the animals on the boat. 

The raven that served as a symbol that the land was not ready, is also serving as an example that God protects us. 

He protects us from walking outside of the things that we should, and that way, we are safe. 

Proverbs 3:6 says this, “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” God protects our path, but we have to submit to him. We must trust in God’s protection for us to get the true benefit of his protection. 

So the story of Noah and the Ark reveals that a raven is a symbol of protection, but the Old Testament law reveals the same thing.

God’s Protection in the Old Testament Law

In the Old Testament, the God of Israel gave the Israelites guidelines to live by. Many people consider this mosaic law to be restrictive rules that keep people from experiencing life, but Christians believe that the Jewish legal codes were there to protect people from bad things. 

The rules about ravens were used to protect both people and ravens. Although the Israelites were meat eaters, in Leviticus, God gave Moses the expectation of what were clean and unclean animals to eat. Part of the list of unclean animals was a specific list of unclean birds.

Leviticus 11 says this, “13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven,”

Raven’s made the list of birds that the Israelites were not supposed to eat. While human beings might consider this controlling, God was using this rule to protect the ravens and the Israelites. 

We now know that ravens are not the safest thing to eat. Unless they are prepared properly, eating a raven can be a dangerous thing, and might even lead to death. God gave the the people of Israel that rule so that they would not die of food poisoning.  

What might have seemed like an annoying rule was actually a tool God used to protect his people, which further solidified the raven as a symbol of God’s protection over his people. 

Ravens truly are a great sign of God’s protection and provision in the Bible. But there is one more thing that ravens in the Bible demonstrate: God’s authority over creation. 

Ravens As A Symbol of God’s Authority Over Creation

Ravens don’t just show that God provides and that God protects, but they also show that God has authority over nature. He is not surprised by the things that any living thing does, but he can influence natural behavior to bring about a desired outcome. 

In both the book of Proverbs and the story of Elijah, God’s divine authority over nature is flexed through God’s power over ravens.  

Ravens in the Book of Proverbs

One example of ravens being subject to God’s authority comes in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book of wisdom that relies heavily on metaphor, but there is a metaphorical situation that shows that God does control the ravens. 

Proverbs 30:17 says this, “17 “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.”

The situation here shows the negative effects of mocking one’s father and mother, but it also shows that the ravens are in God’s control. As discussed earlier, God hates unrighteous living, and this passage is an example of that. 

When people are unrighteous by how they treat their father and mother, God teaches that they will be pecked out by ravens. Ravens don’t have a sense for if someone is disrespecting their parents, but they do listen to God.

This reveals that God is the ultimate judge and that the birds are simply tools that God uses to fulfill his will. 

Proverbs shows that God is in control of everything, including the ravens. All of the animal kingdom has to yield to God’s authority. This concept might continue through another raven that we already discussed: the raven of Elijah.

God’s Authority Over the Raven of Elijah

Earlier in this article, we discussed the story of Elijah and how God used a raven to bring him food. Similar to the raven in proverbs, this raven does not actually have a sense of when Elijah is hungry, and when to bring him food. 

The raven is under the control of God, so it brings Elijah food. God is providing for Elijah, but He is using a raven to do it. Although that might seem confusing, the raven is under God’s authority, so it does what God wants. 

This concept can be applied to all of nature, and it might serve as a catalyst for a revised view of nature. Nature can reveal God’s glory and power, but it can also reveal God’s control. Trees grow naturally and birds find themselves food, but God is really the director of everything. 

As a side note, the raven came to Noah’s ark, not because the raven was super smart, but because the raven was yielding to God’s authority and say. The raven is a creature of God, so God has authority over it. 

Ultimately ravens in the Bible show us God’s authority over nature, and that he can use ravens to do extraordinary things. 

The Use of Raven in the Book of Song of Solomon

One final use of the raven is found in the book of Song of Solomon. This book is also called the Song of Songs. 

Song of Solomon 5:11 in the King James Version says this, “His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” This passage simply references the black color of the raven’s feathers and mentions how it is similar to the person’s hair.

This mention of raven does not have a very clear meaning, but is simply used to describe someone.