Psalm 55:6
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Oh that I had.—Literally, who will give me?—The bird that was in the psalmist’s thought was doubtless the Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), which selects for its nesting the lofty cliffs and deep ravines far from the neighbourhood of man. (Comp. Song of Solomon 2:14, Note.)

Be at rest.—So the LXX. and Vulg., and the reading is consecrated by long use; but the parallelism seems to require the more literal dwell or abide.

Psalm 55:6-8. O that I had wings like a dove — Hebrew, מי יתן לי, mi jitten li, who will give me wings like a dove? “The dove is remarkable for the swiftness of its flight; therefore the psalmist, who saw himself in the extremest danger, and knew that his very life depended on his immediate escape, wishes for the swift wings of a dove, that, with the utmost speed, he might fly from the destruction which threatened him.” — Dodd. And be at rest — Or, that I might, or where I might, be at rest. Or, as אשׁכנה, eshchonah, rather signifies, may dwell, namely, in some settled and safe place, and be delivered from those uncertainties and wanderings to which I am now exposed. Observe, reader, gracious souls wish to retire from the hurry and bustle of the world, not only or chiefly that they may escape trouble and danger, but also, and especially that they may sweetly enjoy God. And remain in the wilderness — Where I might be free from the rage and treachery of my wicked enemies, who are worse than the wild beasts of the wilderness. Peace and quietness, in silence and solitude, are what the wisest and best of men have most earnestly coveted, and the more when they have been vexed and wearied with the noise and clamour of those about them. I would hasten, &c., from the windy storm and tempest — Hebrew, מרוח סעה מסער, meruach sognah missagnar, literally, from the sweeping wind and furious tempest, as Chandler translates the words. From the force and fury of mine enemies, who highly threaten me, or from the tumult and ferment that the city is now in, and the danger arising therefrom. This makes heaven desirable to a child of God, that it is a final escape from all the storms and tempests of this world, to perfect and everlasting rest.55:1-8 In these verses we have, 1. David praying. Prayer is a salve for every sore, and a relief to the spirit under every burden. 2. David weeping. Griefs are thus, in some measure, lessened, while those increase that have no vent given them. David in great alarm. We may well suppose him to be so, upon the breaking out of Absalom's conspiracy, and the falling away of the people. Horror overwhelmed him. Probably the remembrance of his sin in the matter of Uriah added much to the terror. When under a guilty conscience we must mourn in our complaint, and even strong believers have for a time been filled with horror. But none ever was so overwhelmed as the holy Jesus, when it pleased the Lord to put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for our sins. In his agony he prayed more earnestly, and was heard and delivered; trusting in him, and following him, we shall be supported under, and carried through all trials. See how David was weary of the treachery and ingratitude of men, and the cares and disappointments of his high station: he longed to hide himself in some desert from the fury and fickleness of his people. He aimed not at victory, but rest; a barren wilderness, so that he might be quiet. The wisest and best of men most earnestly covet peace and quietness, and the more when vexed and wearied with noise and clamour. This makes death desirable to a child of God, that it is a final escape from all the storms and tempests of this world, to perfect and everlasting rest.And I said - That is, when I saw these calamities coming upon me, and knew not what the result was to be.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove! - literally, "Who will give me wings like a dove?" or, Who will give me the pinion of a dove? The original word - אבר 'êber - means properly, "a wing-feather;" a pinion; the penna major or flagfeather of a bird's wing by which he steers his course, - as of an eagle, Isaiah 40:31, or of a dove, as here. It is distinguished from the wing itself, Ezekiel 17:3 : "A great eagle, with great wings, "long-winged," full of feathers." The reference here is supposed to be to the turtle-dove - a species of dove common in Palestine. Compare the notes at Psalm 11:1. These doves, it is said, are never tamed. "Confined in a cage, they droop, and, like Cowper, sigh for 'A lodge in some vast wilderness - some boundless contiguity of shade;' and no sooner are they set at liberty, than they flee to their mountains." Land and the Book (Dr. Thomson), vol. i., p. 416.

For then would I fly away, and be at rest - I would escape from these dangers, and be in a place of safety. How often do we feel this in times of trouble! How often do we wish that we could get beyond the reach of enemies; of sorrows; of afflictions! How often do we sigh to be in a place where we might be assured that we should be safe from all annoyances; from all trouble! There is such a place, but not on earth. David might have borne his severest troubles with him if he could have fled - for those troubles are in the heart, and a mere change of place does not affect them; or he might have found new troubles in the place that seemed to him to be a place of peace and of rest. But there is a world which trouble never enters. That world is heaven; to that world we shall soon go, if we are God's children; and there we shall find absolute and eternal rest. Without "the wings of a dove," we shall soon fly away and be at rest. None of the troubles of earth will accompany us there; no new troubles will spring up there to disturb our peace.

6. be at rest—literally, "dwell," that is, permanently. No text from Poole on this verse. And I said, oh that I had wings like a dove,.... The psalmist pitches upon this creature, partly to suggest that his enemies pursuing him were like the ravenous hawk, and he like the harmless, innocent, and trembling dove; and partly because of its swiftness in flying. Aben Ezra thinks the dove is mentioned, because it is sociable with men, and who send letters by them for quick dispatch, of which instances may be given (r). This wish is expressed suitably to his character and case. The church is sometimes compared to a dove for its innocence, modesty, chastity, purity, affection, inconsolableness for the loss of its mate, and for its fearfulness, Sol 2:14; and so is Christ, Sol 5:12; who was typified by Jonah, whose name signifies a dove; and on whom the Spirit of God descended as a dove, at his baptism, and by whom he was filled with his dovelike graces;

for then would I fly away; so David desired to flee, and did flee with good speed and haste from Absalom his son, 2 Samuel 15:14, title. Arama observes of the dove, that, when weary with flying with one wing, it rests that, and flies with the other, and so has strength to fly continually without stopping, which he supposes to be the reason why the wing of a dove is desired. So every sensible sinner desires to flee from sin and sinners, and from wrath to come; from avenging justice, to Christ the city of refuge; so Christ, under the terrors of death, in his human nature, in a view of the law's curse and wrath, desired the cup might pass from him, and he might flee and escape death, though with submission to the divine will;

and be at rest; safe and secure from the conspirators, as David was; and as a sinner is that has fled to Christ; in whom is rest from the burden and guilt of sin, from the wrath, curse, and condemnation of the law, and under all afflictions, whether of body or mind; and not in the world, and worldly enjoyments; nor in the law, and the works of it: and as Christ is; not by escaping death, but through dying, and having done his work has ceased from it, and is entered into his rest; which was the joy set before him, that animated him as man to endure the cross, and despise the shame; here also true believers, weary of the world, desire to be, enjoying that rest which remains for the people of God.

(r) Vid. Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 9. c. 2.

And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I {e} fly away, and be at rest.

(e) Fear had driven him to so great distress, that he wished to be hid in some wilderness, and to be banished from that kingdom which God had promised that he should enjoy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Weary of his life in the cruel city, he wishes he could be like the dove which he watches winging its flight swiftly to its nest in the clefts of some inaccessible precipice, far from the haunts of men (Song of Solomon 2:14). The dove may be meant too as an emblem of his own timidity and innocence.

6–8. He would fain escape to some solitary refuge. Cp. Jeremiah 9:2.Verse 6. - And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! The beauty of this passage has sunk deep into the Christian heart. Great composers have set to it some of their most exquisite music. The desire is one which finds an echo in almost every human breast, and the expression of it here has all the beauty of the best Eastern poetry. Jeremiah's words are far tamer, "Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people, and go from them!" For then would I fly away, and be at rest. The desire of "rest" is universal. Whatever the delights of action, they can only charm us for a time. In our hearts we are always longing to have done with action, and to be at rest. (Heb.: 54:6-9) In this second half, the poet, in the certainty of being heard, rejoices in help, and makes a vow of thanksgiving. The בּ of בּסמכי is not meant to imply that God is one out of many who upheld his threatened life; but rather that He comes within the category of such, and fills it up in Himself alone, cf. Psalm 118:7; and for the origin of this Beth essentiae, Psalm 99:6, Judges 11:35. In Psalm 54:7 the Kerמ merits the preference over the Chethמb (evil shall "revert" to my spies), which would at least require על instead of ל (cf. Psalm 7:17). Concerning שׁררי, vid., on Psalm 27:11. In the rapid transition to invocation in Psalm 54:7 the end of the Psalm announces itself. The truth of God is not described as an instrumental agent of the cutting off, but as an impelling cause. It is the same Beth as in the expression בּנדבה (Numbers 15:3): by or out of free impulse. These free-will sacrifices are not spiritual here in opposition to the ritual sacrifices (Psalm 50:14), but ritual as an outward representation of the spiritual. The subject of הצּילני is the Name of God; the post-biblical language, following Leviticus 24:11, calls God straightway השּׁם, and passages like Isaiah 30:27 and the one before us come very near to this usage. The praeterites mention the ground of the thanksgiving. What David now still hopes for will then lie behind him in the past. The closing line, v. 9b, recalls Psalm 35:21, cf. Psalm 59:11; Psalm 92:12; the invoking of the curse upon his enemies in v. 8 recalls Psalm 17:13; Psalm 56:8; Psalm 59:12.; and the vow of thanksgiving in v. 8 recalls Psalm 22:26; Psalm 35:18; Psalm 40:10.
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