A Devotion for 4 November 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; 13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. 14 ¶ O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
( Song of Solomon 2:10-14; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The memory is a wonderful resource that records the events of our past in beautiful van Gogh-like colors. It omits the darker features of sorrow and illumines the joys of our lives with brilliance. Think back to the early days of your youth and cast upon some common experience that is grafted with indelible ink into the chambers of your treasured memories. How beautiful these recollected visions are to the aging mind!
When I was growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge during and after the Second World War, the world seemed a mysterious paradise of fragrant flowers, beautiful sunrises, and warbling streams of spring-fed waters. My mother loved flowers, and she was drawn to her flower garden at dawn’s early light during the spring and summer months. I remember going with her to behold the majestic sunrise and to see the sparkling dew drops on rose petals that reflected the colors of the rainbow. In those days, cherry blossoms, dogwoods, and honeysuckles ladened the air with divine fragrances; and the drone of honey-bees sounded a musical background to the panorama of beauty in nature.
There is one significant gift of nature that I recall that was softly sounded just as the sky began to lighten with the coming sun – the cooing of a dove. That may not seem like such a special treat to the modern mind, but to my youthful imagination, I could not picture what a wonderfully beautiful creature it must have been that sounded such a sweet, loving and peaceful note. It sounded across the meadowlands and hedge rows, and made me feel that all was well on God’s green earth – so soft and soothing it was to the ear. My mother told me that the sound I heard was that of a Morning Dove calling to her mate – just as the lover in Song of Solomon (the Church) called unto her Beloved (the Lord Jesus Christ).
At the sound of the Morning Dove, we were assured that our winter was gone, and flowers did, indeed, appear upon the earth. Do you remember those halcyon days, my friend?
Doves are trusting creatures. They are not averse to building their nests around human activity. Not many years past, I spotted a beautiful dove perched on her nest in an ivy vine just outside our bedroom window. Since there are frequent cat visitors in our neighborhood, I worried a bit about the dove and her soon to hatch young. A few days later, I saw the body of the dove lying on the ground beneath her nest, which was in disarray. The head of the innocent dove had been almost chewed off her body. This told me that the dove remained on her nest in a futile effort of protecting her babies as long as there was a breath of life in her little body.
Doves do not kill other creatures. They feed on seed and plants. That is the kind of heart our Maker placed in their bosoms.
The Holy Scriptures make reference to the dove as a creature of love, peace, and comfort. The dove was used by Noah to forecast when the waters of the flood had abated: “8. . . . he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. * 10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.” Genesis 8:8-11
God compares the wings of a dove to cherished freedoms: “6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest,” Psalms 55:6 and as the beauty of His people: “13 Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” Psalms 68:13 There is also a prophetic reference to the dove likened to the Holy Ghost: “2 ¶ I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.” Song of Solomon 5:2 The Church is also compared in gentle poetry to the dove: “9 ¶ What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? 10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” SS 5:9.10 The Church is called to be separate and unlike the world. In God’s loving eye, the Church is spotless and without blemish owing to the imputed righteousness of her Beloved (Jesus Christ).
The most profound reference to the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit of God is found at the baptism of our Lord in Jordan Waters. “16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 What is the great depth in meaning of these last two verses above? It is the manifestation and Presence of the Triune Godhead represented.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son; the Dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit; and the “Voice from Heaven” is that of God the Father – all Three present at the beginning ministry of our Lord.
Christ was without the least tint of sin. He was the only Person who qualified to pay our sin-debt on the cross at calvary. His sacrifice was first depicted in Genesis 3:21 – “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Again, Isaac was a type of our Lord whose sacrifice was cancelled by God for He would ask the blood of no man’s son to cover sin.
Why are dove’s named in scripture as sacrificial creatures? It is because they do not kill other living creatures. They are, like gentle lambs, innocent of the shedding of blood.
The Holy Spirit, like the Dove, does not scream and rant to get your attention; but often coo’s out at first light of day to set your foot on the right path to follow.
The next time you hear the cooing of the Morning Dove, consider how beautiful, in the Mind of God, such a creature is, and how much God loves this, and every creature – including you, my friend.