On the Wings of a Dove – Psalm 55:1-7

The world of popular music has changed just a bit since I was a child. I grew up with Broadway show music and big bands – that was what my parents liked. Then I began to listen to classical music – Beethoven; Tchaikovsky; Mendelson and Rimsky-Korsakov. But many people back in the 50’s, when I was a kid, listened to what is now called “Classic country.” And what might surprise the kids of today, some of the popular songs of that era were highly religious.
Yesterday, Judy had on one of her TV radio stations – an “Elevator Music Station.” Lo and behold, they played an instrumental version of “Three Bells” or “Three Chapel Bells.” It reached #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country and Western” chart in about 1960. “There’s a village hidden deep in the valley; Among the pine trees half forlorn. And there on a sunny morning; Little Jimmy Brown was born (Bung, bung, bung, bung). All the chapel bells were ringing; In the little valley town. And the song that they were singing; Was for baby Jimmy Brown. Then the little congregation; Prayed for guidance from above. Lead us not into temptation; Bless this hour of meditation; Guide him with eternal love.”
s I was first thinking about this message, another song came to mind. “Wings of a Dove” was a country song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958. Two years later, when it was recorded by Ferlin Husky, it became #1 on the country charts for 10 non-consecutive weeks. Then it crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at #12 – twenty years later.
Do any of you older folk remember these words? “On the wings of a snow-white dove; He sends His pure sweet love; A sign from above; On the wings of a dove. When Noah had drifted on the flood many days; He searched for land In various ways. Troubles, he had some, but wasn’t forgotten; He sent him His love on the wings of a dove. When troubles surround us; when evils come; The body grows weak; The spirit grows numb. When these things beset us, He doesn’t forget us; He sends down His love On the wings of a dove.” Who is the “He” in that song? It is God.
The theme of that song (I’ll not call it a hymn, because it isn’t) … The theme of that song is that the Lord’s blessings sometime come down on wings like a dove. But I would like to take verse 6 of this Psalm and go the other direction – I’d like to ascend. And to do it I’ll take it completely out of the context of David’s words. Usually we try to avoid this sort of thing, because it can get us into a lot of trouble. But, we’ll take this liberty this evening, knowing ahead time what we are doing. We are not forsaking the context; we are expanding it beyond its intended meaning.
The situation of course, was David in distress of body and soul. His son – his favorite son – Absalom had lifted his sword against dear old Dad. In Absalom we once again are shown proof of the depravity of the humanity heart. The finest juice, from the finest fruit, can become rancid, despite not falling far from a good tree. And the strongest love can ruin a child, if it is not tempered with wisdom and discipline. Then Ahithophel, David’s advisor, for either greed or wicked affections, defected to the dark side. The king was forced to flee for his life with only the bare necessities. No longer could he enjoy the comforts of his own city or home. He was barred from the house of God which he loved with more fervor every year. Shimei was throwing stones and casting slurs and curses onto David’s head. Not only this, but even his royal body was getting older and more tired – his heart was broken. One of the interesting features of this Psalm is its prophetic nature. No one can read verses 12-15 without thinking about Judas and the betrayal of the Son of David. But these are not the things I wish to develop tonight.
David said, “I wish, I wish that I could have the wings of a dove.” As the old King struggled along up and over the Mount of Olives, he might have seen or heard a dove. As it flew over his head, maybe he wondered if it too was fleeing from some predator. But, obviously, that dove had more ability to escape than David with his bad knees and sore feet. And David was not referring to Absalom only but also to his desire to escape the trouble that his sin had caused.
Perhaps all of us have wished the same sort thing from time to time. But we don’t have doves’ wings, and escape is rarely possible. We can’t out-run the mistakes and sins of our lives. Some of them will haunt us for the rest of our days, as David was to find. Generally speaking, if we face our problems, we can get some degree of victory over them. But not even this is my theme tonight.
We need the wings of the dove.
We NEED an ever growing, expanding love and interest in Heaven and the Heavenly things.
Isn’t a dove one of the symbols of gentleness and purity? Isn’t a dove one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit and thus even of Heaven? If Heaven had a sportsl team, the mascot would have to be either a lion, a lamb or a dove. Doves can certainly move the fastest, so maybe they should be selected as mascot for some sports. Sometimes, Biblically, the dove is a representative of Heaven.
David said, “Oh that I had wings like a dove.” And I say, “Oh, that Christians had more love and interest in Heavenly things.” Isn’t it true that the more we think of something the more like that thing we become? In a sense we are what we eat; nutritious food brings us strength and health. Bad food, fatty food, nutritionless food on a regular basis will give us bad health. In another sense its true that we are what read, study, watch and love – all become a part of us. A filthy magazine is not only a product of our degenerate society but a means of spreading of our degenerate society. The more violence we watch – like mixed martial arts – the more violent we become. This is one of the dangers of modern video games. I was listening to a conversation the other day in which a person was still upset that her football team didn’t win the Super Bowl. Her love of that team has apparently become a part of her life. What comes into our hearts through the eyes and ears is more important than what comes in by way of the mouth. And what is entertained in the mind helps determine what sort of people we become.
Christians need to sprout wings like dove and soar above the secular and sinful things of the world. That is not my opinion, but the teaching of some very well-known scriptures. The Lord Jesus said, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Paul said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Do you have carnal mind or spiritual mind? Do you ever think about heaven; about the Lord your Saviour? Oh, that we had the mental wings of a dove – spiritual wings. Romans 8:6 says something that ought to really frighten us – “To be carnally minded is death.” A lot of “Christians” think no more about God than they do of the ruler of Napal. They study fishing manuals more than they do the Word of God, and we won’t to mention our Netflix download list. “Seek ye the Lord, and His righteous, seek his face evermore” – Psalm 105:4. We need the wings of a dove to frequently transport us to heaven.
And I emphasize again – we need the wings of a “DOVE.”
All the birds of the Columbidae family are fliers. Most of them will die if they are kept in complete captivity – they have to have at least some liberty. And yet most of them can be trained to some degree. For example, they can be used to carry messages from distant places to their homes, even if those homes have been made by men. These fliers love to soar and some will fly and float for hours. The speed and strength of some these breeds is very well known.
We need the wings of a dove, and not the wings of a bee. Bees are some of God’s most marvelous creatures; they are essentially living miracles. That a bumble bee can fly at all is contrary to the usual laws of aviation – bodies too big, wings too small. By all the theories of aerodynamics, they shouldn’t be able to lift off the ground. They are marvelous, but for illustration sake, it is interesting to note that David didn’t want to be a bee. They are good fliers – but they not the very best. Honey bees are built a little better than bumble bees, but they too can get so laden with pollen that is a wonder how they get into the air or carry all the weight. And then they rarely fly long distances in direct flight. They will fly quite a way from their hives, but usually, its done by flower hopping.And it’s for that they are noted. Flitting from flower to flower like a butterfly.
Christians need a bit more stick-tuitiveness than that. We need learn what is good, honorable, blessed and right and stay there. But how many Christians get the seven year itch and switch churches? How many are so weak in the Word, they go jumping from bandwagon to bandwagon. One year they believe one doctrine, like the imminent coming of Christ, and the next year they don’t. They start out in some church, then begin to follow some radio preacher, then a TV star, then an anti-cult exposer, before moving on to some eschatological fanatic. A lot saints, when they should be John the Baptists, are more like the food that he ate.
We don’t need the wings of bees or the wings of the ostrich or the penguin. How high can ostrich fly? What hypocrites they are. How often does a penguin fly? Never? How dare the ostrich call itself a bird, when it can’t fly? Running is not a particularly birdly activity. The ostrich is like so many “saints,” professing to be Christians, but they are really nothing but worldlings.
Another wing we can do without are those of the buzzard. Oh, how high can Mr. Buzzard fly – finding thermals and soaring for hours – so high we can hardly see him. But his excellent eyes are trained on the earth looking for vermin, carcasses, rot and the filth on the world. Let him smell or see a dying rat, and he swoops down faster than a missile. We need wings of a dove to keep us afloat with a string stretched down from the bottom of heaven holding us up. We don’t need anchors; we need power enough to depart this atmosphere. “Lord, keep me from the carcass of sin and filth. Let me soar.”
We can’t overlook the fact that the wings of the dove are serving wings.
Study doves in God’s Word, and you’ll find them to be servants. They are mentioned about fifty times in the Bible. Most of them are seen in connection with sacrifices. A dove wasn’t the most costly sacrifice, but for the family without a great deal of wealth, it was an honest and honorable offering. In fact, in at least one way, it was among the most honored of offerings. It was a dove which Joseph and Mary sacrificed after the birth of the Lord Jesus. And a sacrifice is a service above most other services. Every little sacrifice did something that the man who offered it could not do. Oh, that we all had wings of a dove with which to offer to offer ourselves for special service to Christ. “I beseech you, therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
And do you remember the first reference to the dove in the Bible. Ferguson’s country song spoke of it. Genesis 8:6-12 – Noah “also… sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.” Why did that little bird come back the first and second time? Because it found no other place to put his foot except on floating filth and corruption. That certainly didn’t bother the raven, but it did the dove. There, perhaps, you can see the difference between clean and unclean birds.
But does that explain the olive leaf in its mouth? Certainly there was a divine purpose and lesson, but what might that bird been thinking? Did the dove return to the ark because of its love for his mate and with a gift of food? Remember that doves mate for life. Christians need wings of love to properly function on this earth. Where is your love, where is your compassion?
Consider one more illustration – its service to Jesus at our Lord’s baptism – Matthew 3:13-17. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I don’t believe that John saw a dove that day. What he saw was the Spirit of God which descended “like as” a dove. But once again I’ll rob the verse of its context. The Holy Spirit, like as a dove descended in order to serve the Son of the Highest.
This is what God needs today. He wants Christian men and women, who can, by the grace of God, rise above their griefs and problems. He seeks Christians who will rise above the secular and earthly. He needs saints who can soar near to Him, and who will serve Him. He needs us to be willing sacrifices.
But in reality, the Lord needs nothing from us, but WE need to be available for His glory. We need to be like the dove. David said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove.”