And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.…
There are times when the sicknesses and infirmities of the body oppress us, when we are disquieted by the cares of life, embittered by disappointment, until at last we wish that it were over and that we were well out of it. This mood ignores several great and precious truths.
I. IT IS BASED ON THE MISTAKE THAT REST IS FOUND IN A PLACE, WHEREAS REST IS FOUND IN A STATE. "Fly away," change the locality, and all will be well. Now, the teaching of revelation is altogether contradictory to this idea of finding peace in a locality. We are to expect peace in perfection of character and life; in purity of heart and conscience, in love, righteousness, and hope. What we cannot find in any place we find in Christ and in what He gives. In His love, power, and purity we realize profound repose, even in a universe of storm. It is perfectly calm at the centre of the whirlwind; Jesus is the centre of the whirlwind of life, and whilst philosophies, fortunes, thrones, stars, and suns are being driven as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, in Christ at the centre is peace. We do not want the "wings of a dove" to fly away, but rather the wings of faith and love to carry us closer to Christ; we want to be more like Him, and then we shall triumph in trouble as the sea-bird rides on the wave.
II. IT OVERLOOKS THE FACT THAT THE DISCIPLINE OF THE STORM IS ESSENTIAL TO US. We long to nestle in some palm-grove and coo away our life in indolence and ease; but would this be well? We know it would not, for we are here to be made perfect, "perfect through suffering." Storms are necessary to set us right. These terrible buffetings feelingly persuade us what we are. They awaken us from vain dreams, and drive us to the true hiding-place. "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy statutes." And storms are necessary to keep us right. The best of men are endangered in a belt of calm. Some precious stones lose their sparkle if they are long exposed to the sun, and the Lord's jewels easily lose their lustre by long-continued sunshine. We like the sun — it is pleasant to scintillate — but the gloom is often necessary to the preservation and increase of our lustre. Out of these sorrows and crosses come "the peaceable fruits of righteousness " and the "eternal weight of glory."
III. IT BREATHES THE SPIRIT OF MISTRUST AND COWARDICE. "Oh that I had wings." This is the expression of faithlessness. He is ready to assume that God would not, or could not, sustain him, and therefore he wished to run away. But He can sustain us, and He will sustain us; let us therefore claim His help and salvation. Eagle's wings are what we need; mastery of difficulty, joy in difficulty, difficulty conducting to glory. Eagle's wings — it means that we can battle with the storm; it means joy in the storm, for the eagle exults in the very fury of the elements; it means power to rise above the storm; out of darkness into light. All this God can give, and will.
IV. The expression in the text is LACKING IN RIGHT VIEWS OF THE FUTURE.
1. It lacks a right view of the requirements of the future. It bespeaks discontent with earth, only we may be tired of earth long before we are fit for heaven; "It is enough, let me die," say short-sighted men; but God says it is enough only when He sees that we are fit and ripe for a better world.
2. It lacks a right view of the grandeur of the future. The "wings of a dove." We do not belong to the two-winged order, but to the six-winged (Isaiah 6:2). These are our kinsmen. God would not take infinite pains with us if we were not so great.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.