The Restlessness of Human Ambition
Psalm 55:6-8
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.…

Would we see an object to the greatest advantage, it must be some distance off from us. The poor man's but, ragged and full of squalor within, yet even from a due distance may appear a sweet and interesting cottage. The field grown over with thistles, at a distance charms the eye by its verdure. The marshy, stagnant and malarious lake seen at a distance is full of beauty. The country hamlet distance can transform into a paradise of beauty, in spite of the abominations that are at every door, and the angry brawlings of the men and women who occupy it. And this explains the feeling which some of us may have experienced; we fancy that if we were removed to some other distant place we should be happier than where we are. Instead of resting in the quiet enjoyment of what we have, our wishes wander abroad, and we are ready to say, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then I would fly away and be at rest." But it is important to be observed that when we have reached the wished for spot, rest is as far from us as ever. Now, all this is true of the region of the soul and the moral nature. We think that what we have not must be better than what we have. Am I unlearned? I sigh for the name and distinctions of philosophy. Am I rich? I would sooner be in a humble position. Poor? I envy the rich. Single? My fancy warms at the conception of a dear and domestic circle. Am I embroiled with family cares? I wish I were single again. The truth is, we never rest. We always want something more than we haw. And when we have exhausted every personal ambition we have friends and children to provide for, and here is a never-ending source of ambition and anxiety. This is not peculiar to any one class. You see it at court, but you see it in the cottage too. It is the universal property of our nature. In the whole circle of our experience, did we ever see a man sit down to the full enjoyment of the present without a hope or a wish unsatisfied? Look into the heart, which is the seat of feeling, and we find a perpetual tendency to enjoyment, but not enjoyment itself; the cheerfulness of hope, but not the happiness of actual possession. Man lives in futurity. It is not the reality of to-day which interests him. It is the vision of to-morrow. Where, then, is that resting-place which the psalmist aspired after, and that he might reach it he prayed for the wings of a dove? It is not to be found on this side of Death. How important, then, that not the littleness of time, but the greatness of eternity; not the restless and unsatisfying pleasures of the world, but the enjoyments of heaven so pure, substantial and unfading, should be the object on which our hearts should be set.

(Thomas Chalmers, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

WEB: I said, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! Then I would fly away, and be at rest.

The Instinct of Repose
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