Verse 19. O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked. Thy poor church is weak and defenceless as a dove, but yet her adversaries cannot touch her without thy permission; do not give them leave to devour her, consign her not to the merciless fangs of her foes. She is thy dove, thy turtle, thy favoured one, do not cast her to her enemies. Be merciful, and preserve the weak. Thus may we each plead, and with good hope of prevailing, for the Lord is very pitiful and full of compassion.
Forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever. They look to thee for everything, for they are very poor, and they are thy poor, and there is a company of them, collected by thyself; do not turn thy back on them for long, do not appear strange unto them, but let their poverty plead with thee; turn thou unto them, and visit thine afflicted. In such pleas we also can personally join when at any time we are sorely tried, and the Lord's presence is hidden from us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 19. O deliver not, etc. How weak soever the church be, and how many and strong soever the enemy be, yet cannot they all devour the church, except the Lord should deliver his church over into their hands, against which evil the church hath ground of confidence to pray, O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked; for he hath given his church wings, and a hiding place too, as the comparison imports, if he please to give her the use thereof also. David Dickson.
Verse 19. The people of God are taught in this form of supplication how to edge and keen their prayers, and make them vigorous; to wit, by disclaiming any ability or sufficiency in themselves; by styling themselves a congregation of poor, silly, weak doves, no way able to encounter an army of bestial, cunning, crafty, bloody, boisterous enemies. This plea the people of God make use of: "With thee the fatherless findeth mercy," Hosea 14:3 . John Langley.
Verse 19. The soul of thy turtledove. They compare themselves to a turtledove, whose nature leads it, in whatever way it may be afflicted, not to indulge in noisy impatience, but to mourn in secret; so the afflicted people of Israel were unable to do anything but breathe their sighs and groans to God. Musculus.
Verse 19. Thy turtledove. God's people are an harmless, innocent people, altogether unable and insufficient to help themselves against their enemies, who are numerous, cruel, and barbarous. Hence they are resembled to sheep, doves; called in the Word, fatherless, orphans, little ones, babes, poor, simple, needy. They are men bound to their good behaviour, may not harbour so much as a bad thought against any; are called to suffer, not to do wrong. Julian did jeer at them for this; he would strike them on the one cheek, and tell them that their Master taught them to turn the other; his soldiers would take away their cloaks, and mind them that they must part with their coats also. Out of their own dispositions they judge of others, therefore may easily be deceived and entrapped. Thus Gedaliah, that sweet man, would not believe the relation of Johanan touching the conspiracy of the crocodile Ishmael against him; nay, was even angry with him for his faithful dealing that way, and it cost him his life. Jeremiah 40:16 Jeremiah 40:41 . That famous admiral of France, Jasper Coligny, though he had information and intelligence from sundry parts beyond the seas, that the court did intend to mischief him, and that there was no security in their promises and agreements, though backed with oaths, thrust himself, notwithstanding, upon the lion, and was smoothed with one paw and torn with the other: being such, they lie open to the rage of many adversaries... One would think these turtles should rather win the love of all that come near them than incur the hatred of any, for they are quiet and peaceable persons. In the mount of the Lord there is no hurt done (Isa 11:9), yet, notwithstanding, they are maligned by a world of people. Because they are not like them ( 1 Peter 4:4 ); because they are not of their number ( John 15:19 ); because their persons and their sacrifices are more acceptable with God than the others' ( Genesis 4:4 ); because they reprove them for their evil ways ( John 3:20 ); because they are for the most part poor and mean, have no great forecast in worldly affairs, are no deep politicians, they are such as those pauperes Lugdunensis, those poor men of Lyons in France, therefore are exposed to beasts and lions ( Matthew 1:25 ); because they mourn for sin in themselves and others: they quarrel with the dove even because of her mournful note. They will jeer at sighing sisters, and men that hang the head like a bulrush; yet, seeing this bulrush cannot grow without mire and mud, why should it not hang the head? John Langley.
Verse 19. Thy turtledove. This expression may, perhaps, be further illustrated from the custom, ancient and modern, of keeping doves as favourite birds (see Theocritus v. 96, and Virgil Eclog. 3. v 68, 69), and from the care taken to secure them from such animals as are dangerous to them. James Merrick.
Verse 19. Turtle Doves, of whatever species they be, whether travellers or domesticated, are equally preserved by the inhabitants of Egypt: they do not kill, and never eat them. Wishing to know the motive of this abstinence among people who possess so little in the greater part of their action, I learnt that it was for the honour of humanity. It is a consequence of the respect due to hospitality, which the Arabs hold in such high estimation, and of which they have communicated some shades to the people who dwell among them. They would regard it as a violation of this hospitality not to spare those birds, which come with a perfect confidence to live amongst them, and there to become skilful but useless receptors of love and tenderness. The very farmer, who sees his harvest a prey for the flights of turtle doves which alight on his fields, neither destroys nor harasses them, but suffers them to multiply in tranquillity. C. N.S. de M. Sonnini. 1775-1811.
Verse 19. Forget not the congregation of thy poor. Thy poor, by way of discrimination. There may be a greater distance between poor and poor, than there is between poor and rich. There are many "ragged regiments," "congregations of poor," whom the Lord will forget for ever; but his poor shall be saved. And these poor are of two sorts; either poor in regard of wealth and outward substance, or poor in regard of friends or outward assistance. A rich man, especially a godly rich man, may be in a poor case, destitute and forsaken, wanting patronage and protection. God saveth the poor in both notions, both those that have no friends, and those that have no estates. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 19. The soul of the believer compared to a turtledove.