The Turtle-Dove


This is a very beautiful and innocent bird, and no one is mentioned more
frequently in the Bible. It does not live upon the flesh of animals: so
when Noah sent one out of the ark, she soon came back again, because she
could find nothing to eat, and no rest for the sole of her foot. Noah
put out his hand and gently took her in, and she did not go out again
for a whole week. Then Noah let her fly, and the beautiful creature
came back in the evening, having in her mouth a green leaf which she had
plucked from an olive-tree; as though she wanted to tell him that the
waters were beginning to dry up. After another week she went out, and
did not come back again to the ark, because the earth was dry.

The dove was often offered as a sacrifice in ancient times; and was a
type of our innocent Savior, to show how he would afterwards be put to
death for the guilty. The Holy Spirit once condescended to take the
form of a dove, when he rested upon Christ at the time of his baptism.
Our Savior speaks of the innocence of this bird when he says to his
disciples, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye wise
as serpents, and harmless as doves."

This bird has a very sweet but mournful voice; and this is referred to
in the Bible. Hezekiah, one of the Jewish kings, had been very sick and
expected to die; but as he lay on his bed, he prayed that God would be
pleased to spare his life. God heard his prayer, and promised that he
should live fifteen years longer; and soon after he became quite well.
He was grateful to God for his goodness, and wrote a beautiful song of
praise to be sung in the temple. Among other things he told how he felt
when he lay so sick upon his bed. He says, "Like a crane or a swallow,
so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove."

The turtle-dove is a bird of passage. It appears in Judea early in the
spring, when the leaves are coming out, the flowers opening, and every
thing looking lovely and beautiful. This will explain some verses in
the Song of Solomon, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away, for
lo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear
on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of
the turtle (or turtle-dove) is heard in our land." It remains until
summer is gone; and then flies away to a warmer climate to spend the
winter. It is in reference to this that David says, "Oh ! that I had
wings like a dove ! for then would I flee away, and be at rest; lo, then
would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness; I would hasten my
escape from the windy storm and tempest." You will find these beautiful
verses in the 55th Psalm.

Who would not wish to be like the gentle, peaceful dove?