Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
I. The first thought which the verse suggests, in connection with cur Communion services, is that of BLISSFUL ASSOCIATION. AS the dovecot may have its different apertures, so each Church retains its own denominational entrance. But the glorious meeting-place, the spiritual Shelter, is the same.
II. In connection with our sacred rite, the emblem suggests a PUBLIC PROFESSION. The prophet is arrested; or, possibly, in the poetical imagery here employed, a chorus of spectators — in which he veils his own personality — are arrested by the spectacle. The doves are not spoken of as flying under screen of night or darkness; neither were they beheld winging a solitary or circuitous flight, as if dreading and evading observation. But the midday sun looked down on a whole cloud of them, their golden iridescent plumage flashing in his beams. It is no unimportant or insignificant feature in your Divinely-appointed ordinance, this open, dove-like flight to the Covenant Ark.
III. The cloud of doves, as here represented, betokens THE CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANS AND OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNICANTS. They are, or ought be, dove-like. The dove has these among other characteristics —
1. It is the complex symbol, in sacred poetry and art, of peace and love, of meekness and gentleness, purity and harmlessness (Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 6:9; Matthew 10:16). In the rude, early Christian symbolism of the Roman catacombs, the dove, as the bird of hope, is generally represented in connection, variously treated, with the olive branch. What a lesson for us all as believers in Jesus.
2. A second characteristic of the dove is, that it is swift of wing. The prophet saw them, not sailing like a cloud, or drifting like a cloud, but flying; borne along with whirlwind speed. The carrier dove is well known for the swiftness — the length and steadiness — of its arrowy course, surpassing the proverbial flight of the eagle. This, coupled with Isaiah's figure, surely suggests the activities of the Christian life.
IV. The figure of the dove fleeing to its window reminds and suggests that it is a bird which requires A SAFE SHELTER. It does not, like some others, cower in hedgerows or furrows. The wild pigeon may build its nest on the forest tree; but the tame one seeks its secure dovecot. The Eastern dove, which had no artificial home, had its equally secure dwelling in the rock-clefts (Song of Solomon 2:14). A little way from the north-west shores of the Lake of Gennesaret there is a recess in the hills called the "Wady Hyman," or "Valley of Doves," the sides of which are perforated with their retreats. You who are communicants have been fleeing anew to-day for refuge to the "Rock of Ages." It is a special characteristic of the dove, that, however far it goes — though at a distance of hundreds of miles — it will fly back with unerring aim, sureness, and safety to its abode. So with "the dove of Christ."
V. The cloud of doves on wing to their windows reminds one of Young COMMUNICANTS. In the LXX the words of this verse are remarkable! "Who are these that fly like doves with their young?" The doves fly to their dovecot, but not alone; they have their offspring with them. Not the least beautiful thing about a Communion Sunday is the spectacle of young doves; those who have just risen from their early perches, the perches of the morning of life, and are winging their way, bright and unsoiled, to the Rock!
VI. One other thought is suggested, by the remembrance of a large class of those who are always to be found at the Sacrament of Communion — I mean THE AFFLICTED. This image of doves flying to their windows reminds of storm. They were seen flying; drifting along like a tempestuous cloud. The dove flies to its dovecot, or to the rock-clefts, when the storm is brewing.
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?