The Dove's Return to the Ark
Genesis 8:9-12
But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned to him into the ark…


1. Because she had wings. Natural instinct. So it is with us. Our soul has many thoughts and many powers which make the spirit restless. If we were without imagination, we might be content with the few plain truths which we have so well known and proved; but having an imagination, we are often dazzled by it, and we pant to know whether certain things which look like solid verities really are so. If we had no reason, but could abide entirely in a state of pure and simple faith, we might not be exposed to much of the restlessness which now afflicts us, but reason will draw conclusions, ask questions, suggest problems, raise inquiries, and vex us with difficulties. Therefore, because our souls are moved by so vast a variety of thoughts, and possess so many powers which are all restless and active, it is readily to be understood, that while we are here in our imperfect state, our spirits should be tempted to excursions of research and voyages of discovery, as though we sought after some other object of love besides the one who still is dearer to us than all the world besides.

2. Possibly there was another reason. This dove was once lodged in a dovecote. Yes, the dovecote still has its attraction. The best of men have still within them the seeds of those sins which make the worst of men so vile. I marvel not that the dove flew away from the ark when she recollected her dovecote, and I do not wonder that at seasons, the old remembrances get the upper hand with our spirit, and we forget the Lord we love, and have a hankering after sin.

3. Yet it would not be fair to forget that this dove was sent out by Noah; so that whatever may have been the particular motives which ruled the creature, there was a higher motive which ruled Noah who sent her out. Even so there are times when the Lord permits His people to endure temptation.

II. Now MARK THE DOVE AS SHE FINDS NO REST. No rest outside of Christ for intellect, heart, conscience


1. The dove had a will to find rest for the sole of her foot, but she could not. It is not from want of will that I am compelled to say I cannot find anything beneath these stars, nor within the compass of the skies, that can satisfy my soul's desires; I must get my God and have Him to fill my large expectations, or I shall not be content. I mention these things because people are apt to suppose that Christians are all a set of melancholy dyspeptics, who put up with religion because there is nothing else that helps to make them to be so happily miserable, and therefore they take to it as congenial with their melancholy disposition; but it is not so; we are a cheerful, genial race, and yet for all that we are not resting the sole of our foot anywhere in earthly things.

2. Again, the reason why the dove could find no rest, was not because she had no eye to see. I know not how far a dove's eye can discern, but it must be a very vast distance, perfectly incredible I should think. We see the dove sometimes mount aloft: we can see nothing, and yet she perceives her dovecote, and darts towards it. I know many Christians who are as quick in apprehension as refined in taste, and as ready to appreciate anything that is pleasurable as other men, and yet these men who are not fanatics, who are not shut up to a narrow range of things, but whose vision can take in the whole circle of sublunary delights, these men who have not only seen but even tasted, yet bear their witness that like the dove they can find no rest for the sole of their foot.

3. Moreover, the reason why the dove found no rest, was not because she had no wings to reach it. So the Christian has power to enter into the enjoyments of the world if he liked. Now, what was the reason then? It was not want of will, it was not want of eye, nor was it want of wing — what was it? The reason lay in this, that she was a dove. If she had been a raven, she would have found plenty of rest for the sole of her foot. It was her nature that made her unresting, and the reason why the Christian cannot find satisfaction in worldly things is because there is a new nature within him that cannot rest. "Up! up! up!" cries the new heart, "what hast thou to do here?"

IV. Being disappointed, WHAT DID THE DOVE THEN DO? When she found there was no contentment elsewhere, what then? She flew back to the ark. Josephus tells us that the dove came back to Noah, with her wings and feet all wet and muddy. Some of you have grown wet and muddy. You have been trying to find rest in the world, Christian, and you have got mired with it.

V. I want you now to turn your eye for a moment to THE VERY BEAUTIFUL SCENE, So it seems to me to be, at the end of her return journey. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long. Mark that: "pulled her in unto him." It seems to me to imply that she did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary. Did you ever feel that blessed gracious pull, when your heart has been desiring to get near to Christ? Lord! pull me in.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: but the dove found no place to rest her foot, and she returned to him into the ship; for the waters were on the surface of the whole earth. He put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her to him into the ship.

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