And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.…
I. IT IS VAIN TO HOPE FOR REST BY SEEKING THE IMPOSSIBLE. How often is this done I How many cry for that they have not, and covet that which they cannot obtain! They vex themselves in vain.
1. Thus it is sometimes with the doubter. He wants a sign. The evidence he has does not satisfy him. He cannot believe in "Jesus and the Resurrection" without more infallible proofs (Luke 16:31).
2. Thus it is also with the convicted sinner. He is anxious. Doubts and fears torment him. Would that he could be sure that God indeed speaks to him. Would that he were called by his name, like Zaccheus; or that a vision of the risen Christ were vouchsafed to him, as to Saul of Tarsus. Thus he speaks to himself. But such wishes are vain (Romans 10:6-9).
3. So also, not seldom, with sincere Christians. What is truth? What is duty? What is the one and only right thing for me to do? These are hard questions. Often they cause much pain. Then, perhaps, the thought arises, would that I had a teacher that could be wholly trusted; would that I could place myself under the care of some infallible guide, whom it would be always safe to follow. Wordsworth speaks of this as "the universal instinct of repose — the longing for confirmed tranquillity." But this is not, God's way of rest. We cannot thus evade our duty, or cast our responsibilities upon others. It is only the truth that commends itself to our own consciences that is truth to us. It is only tim duty that we see in the light of the Cross, to be binding upon ourselves, that we can perform with freedom and delight (Galatians 6:5).
II. IT IS VAIN TO HOPE FOR REST BY MERE CHANGE OF OUTWARD CONDITION. We are prone to blame circumstances. We delude ourselves with the belief that if we could only get things ordered better, or obtain a more favourable position, that all would be well. The facts before us we cannot alter, but what might be, we have in our own power, and delight to paint in the brightest colours. The "imagined otherwise" is the practical heaven of multitudes. The sick man racked with pain, craves for change. In the morning he says, "Would God it were even!" and at oven, "Would God it were morning" (Deuteronomy 28:67; Job 7:4). The man oppressed with poverty sighs for riches. He flatters himself with dreams of what lie would do if he were rich; how kind he would be to the poor, etc. So the man who is discontented with his lot, whether it be high or low. whether it be in regard to worldly or spiritual things, is always wishing for some outward change. If we only had better advantages, more light, more freedom, more sympathy, more power to carry out our plans; how different would it be. It is so easy to set things all right by an "if." We have a striking example of this spirit in Absalom (2 Samuel 15:4). Like him, we are too much the slaves of vanity. We have not our true place. We have been slighted. We have been denied the opportunities which others have had. Thus we excuse ourselves for inaction. And yet, all the time, we have abundant proof that what is wanted is not change of place, but change of mind; and the voice of God is over pealing in our ears, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
III. IT IS VAIN TO HOPE FOR REST BY FLIGHT FROM THE IMMEDIATE CAUSES OF DISTRESS. There are times when flight is expedient (Matthew 10:23; 2 Timothy 2:22). But it can never be right nor good to flee from duty. What we are called to do or to bear may be painful, and almost too hard for flesh and blood. Still it is better to remain than to fly, as it is better to have a good conscience than an evil conscience, and to have God for us, than against us. Besides, flight may prove a vain resource (Amos 5:19). And yet there are many who try this device, contrary to all reason and experience. There are people who, like Herodias, endeavour to quiet their consciences by silencing the voice of the preacher (Mark 6:16, 19). There are others who, when the Word of God troubles them, would put it out of the way, if possible, like Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:21-32). Vain. God's Word cannot be destroyed. If one roll is burnt there is another ready to be produced.
(W. Forsyth, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.