Though you have lien among the pots, yet shall you be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
The text has been a sealed passage for ages. Bishop Lowth declared it "unintelligible." Mr. Spurgeon calls it "a hard passage, a difficult nut to crack." But new light is constantly breaking out of the Scriptures. Miss Whately, travelling in the East, observed a fact which gives us the lost key to this text, and unlocks its beautiful imagery. In her work entitled Ragged Life in Egypt, she thus speaks concerning the flat roofs of the houses: "They are usually in a state — of great litter; were it not that an occasional clearance is made, they would assuredly give way under the accumulation of rubbish. One thing seems never cleared away, however, and that is the heap of old broken pitchers, sherds and pots that are piled up in some corner. A little before sunset, numberless pigeons (or doves) suddenly emerge from behind the pitchers and pots and other rubbish where they have been sleeping in the heat of the day, or pecking about to find food. They dart upward and career through the air in large circles — their outspread wings catching the glow of the sun's slanting rays, so that they really resemble 'yellow gold'; then, as they wheel round and are seen against the light, they appear as if turned into molten silver, most of them being pure white or else very light-coloured. This may seem fanciful, but the effect of light in these regions can scarcely be described to those who have not seen it. Evening after evening we watched the circling flight of doves, and always observed the same appearance." The doctrine unfolded is the promise of God, that a holy character may be maintained in this sinful world, despite unfavourable surroundings. The Christian may be —
I. CLEAN AS A DOVE IN BUSINESS. Your character is not cheapened because your work is in the kitchen or at the forge, nor is it ennobled because you handle diamonds, write poems, thrill breathless auditors, or sit behind mahogany office desks. There are men in coal mines with souls like the wings of a dove; and there are men in decorated mansions with souls sooty and black with sin as the miner's face with coal-dust. One has the soot on his face, the other on his soul. How beautiful a sight to see a man who has spent the day amid the pots of business, environed by the dust and grime of greed, of selfishness, of fraud and falsehood, fly home at sunset unsoiled and clean as the wings of a dove covered with silver!
II. CLEAN AS A DOVE IN SOCIAL LIFE. Man has needs which only social life can meet. In this there is a great good, and great evils lie close beside it. " Society " is not loyal to Christ, but is obedient to the spirit of "the world." Its ethical code is not the morals of the New Testament. Here are the pots dusty and grimy. We may mingle in social life only on the plane of our Christian birthright: "Brethren, ye are called unto holiness." To mingle in society and not touch its wines, not patronize its demoralizing amusements, not bow down to its false maxims, customs and conventionalities, not lose the zest and fervour of a holy life, is proof of the constraining love of Christ.
III. CLEAN AS A DOVE IN RELIGIOUS LIFE. The things impossible with men are possible with God. The things impossible to the unregenerate are possible to the regenerate man. Born again by the Spirit of God, and filled with Divine grace, he can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth him. If the lines fall to him among the pots, still he may emerge "as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." This does not cover presumption and reckless precipitation of oneself into moral dangers. Had Daniel been recklessly roaming around that lions' den, and fallen in, God would not have sent an angel to shut their mouths. We must use all prudence to avoid evil influences: then, if our path of duty lies through a fiery furnace, God will keep us from all harm.
(J. O. Peck, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.