Genesis 8:7

The raven and the dove. While this passage has its natural, historical fitness, we cannot overlook its symbolical significance. It seems to set forth the two administrations of God, both of them going forth from the same center of his righteousness in which his people are kept safe. The one represented by the carrion bird, the raven, is THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUDGMENT, which goes forth to and fro until the waters are dried up from off the earth - finding a resting-place in the waters of destruction, though not a permanent rest; returning to the ark, as the beginning and the end of judgment is the righteousness of God. The dove is the emblem of DIVINE GRACE, spiritual life and peace. It cannot find rest in the waters of judgment until another seven days, another period of gracious manifestation, has prepared the world for it; then it brings with it the plucked-off olive leaf, emblem of retiring judgment and revealed mercy; and when yet another period of gracious manifestation has passed by, the dove shall return no more to the ark, for the ark itself is no more needed - the waters are abated from off the face of the earth. So we may say the raven dispensation was that which preceded Noah. Then followed the first sending forth of the dove unto the time of Moses, leading to a seven days' period of the ark life, waiting for another mission of grace. The dove brought back the olive leaf when the prophetic period of the old dispensation gave fuller promise of Divine mercy. But yet another period of seven days must transpire before the dove is sent forth and returns no more to the ark, but abides in the earth. After the two sacred intervals, the period of the law and the period of the prophets, which were both immediately connected with a special limited covenant such as is represented in the ark, there followed the world-wide mission of the Comforter. The waters were abated. The "Grace and Truth took possession of man's world, cursed by sin, redeemed by grace. - R.

Noah opened the window of the ark.
We observe:


1. We see that God does sometimes place men in unwelcome positions.

2. That when God does place men in unwelcome positions, it is that their own moral welfare may be enhanced.

3. That when men are placed in unwelcome positions they should not remove from them without a Divine intimation.


1. Noah felt that the time was advancing for a change in his position, and that it would be necessitated by the new facts of life.

2. Noah recognized the fact that the change in his position should be preceded by devout thought and precaution.


1. These methods were varied.

2. Continuous.

3. Appropriate.


V. THAT INDICATIONS OF DUTY ARE ALWAYS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO SEEK THEM DEVOUTLY. The dove returned to Noah with the olive leaf. Men who seek prayerfully to know their duty in the events of life, will surely have given to them the plain indications of Providence. Lessons: —

1. That men should not trust their own reason alone to guide them in the events of life.

2. That men who wish to know the right path of life should employ the best talents God has given them.

3. That honest souls are divinely led.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. God in wisdom sometimes lengthens trials to the proof of the faith and patience of His saints.

2. Believing saints though God appear not, will stay contentedly forty days, that is, the time fit for His salvation.

3. Lawful means believers may use for their comfort, when there is no immediate appearance of God. Noah opens the window which God forbids not (ver. 6).

4. Visible experiments of the ceasing of God's wrath may be desired and used by His people where the Lord sets no bars.

5. Unclean, or the worst of creatures, may be of use sometimes to comfort the Church. As the ravens fed Elijah.

6. Instinct of creatures from God teach His people of His providences to them. (ver. 7).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. MESSENGERS SELECTED. After long floating, during which time Noah would know little of what was passing in the outer world, save that he heard the rain and tempest, the ark grounded. Doubtless he would often look forth on the waste of waters. The rapid evaporation, etc., would very much intercept a distant view. Fogs and mists, etc. Hence to know the state of things beyond the reach of his vision he would send forth messengers. Birds. Birds of swift and strong wing, and clear vision. Land birds. Aquatic birds would not have returned. Birds that may be domesticated and having local attachments. Hence they would return to the ark.


III. MESSENGERS RETURNING. Though Noah might not follow their far flight, they could see the huge ark, to which also their unerring instinct — perhaps supernaturally — would guide them. The joy of Noah on looking once more upon a branch of olive. One of the most beautiful and useful of trees also. Learn —

1. Gratitude for that reason which adapts means to ends.

2. God's creatures thus employed in the service of man.

3. The ark a type of Christ; and the dove and olive branch, of the soul hastening with peaceful feelings and first fruits to Jesus.

(J. C. Gray.)

Noah sent out the raven first, probably because it had been the most companionable bird and seemed the wisest, preferable to "the silly dove"; but it never came back with God's message. And so has one often found that an inquiry into God's will, the examination, for example, of some portion of Scripture, undertaken with a prospect of success and with good human helps, has failed, and has failed in this peculiar raven like way; the inquiry has settled down on some worthless point, on some rotting carcase, on some subject of passing interest or worldly learning, and brings back no message of God to us. On the other hand, the continued use, Sabbath after Sabbath, of God's appointed means, and the patient waiting for some message of God to come to us through what seems a most unlikely messenger, will often be rewarded. It may be but a single leaf plucked off that we get, but enough to convince us that God has been mindful of our need, and is preparing for us a habitable, world. Many a man is like the raven, feeding himself on the destruction of others, satisfied with knowing how God has dealt with others. He thinks he has done his part when he has found out who has been sinning and what been the result. But the dove will not settle on any such resting place, and is dissatisfied until for herself she can pluck off some token that God's anger is turned away and that now there is peace on earth. And if only you wait God's time and renew your endeavours to find such tokens, some assurance will be given you, some green and growing thing, some living part, however small, of the new creation which will certify you of your hope.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

A sailing vessel was driven before the hurricane — a white bird suddenly descended on the mast: the hearts of the crew were cheered; hope dawned...Such consolation may be always mine! One bright, holy, faithful thought is my dove upon the mast. However sadly I toss over the waves of this troublesome, weary world, that gentle bird of paradise revives and strengthens me. It tells me that the storm will soon be over and gone, and the green land, with the singing of birds, is come.


Mount Ararat
Dried, Drying, Flew, Flying, Forth, Fro, Kept, Noah, Raven, Till, Turning, Waters
1. God remembers Noah and calms the waters.
4. The ark rests on Ararat.
6. Noah sends forth a raven and then a dove.
13. Noah, being commanded, goes forth from the ark.
20. He builds an altar, and offers sacrifices,
21. which God accepts, and promises to curse the earth no more.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 8:7

     4612   birds

Genesis 8:1-11

     4819   dryness

Genesis 8:1-19

     7203   ark, Noah's

December 27. "He Sent Forth the Dove which Returned not Again unto Him" (Gen. viii. 12).
"He sent forth the dove which returned not again unto him" (Gen. viii. 12). First, we have the dove going forth from the ark, and finding no rest upon the wild and drifting waste of sin and judgment. This represents the Old Testament period, perhaps, when the Holy Ghost visited this sinful world, but could find no resting-place, and went back to the bosom of God. Next, we have the dove going forth and returning with the olive leaf in her mouth, the symbol and the pledge of peace and reconciliation,
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

'Clear Shining after Rain'
'And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Sermon of the Seasons
"Oh, the long and dreary Winter! Oh, the cold and cruel Winter!" We say to ourselves, Will spring-time never come? In addition to this, trade and commerce continue in a state of stagnation; crowds are out of employment, and where business is carried on, it yields little profit. Our watchmen are asked if they discern any signs of returning day, and they answer, "No." Thus we bow our heads in a common affliction, and ask each man comfort of his fellow; for as yet we see not our signs, neither does
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 32: 1886

The Best of the Best
"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."--Song of Solomon 2:1. THE time of flowers has come, and as they are in some faint degree emblems of our Lord, it is well, when God thus calls, that we should seek to learn what he desires to teach us by them. If nature now spreads out her roses and her lilies, or prepares to do so, let us try, not only to see them, but to see Christ as he is shadowed forth in them. "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." If these are the words
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 42: 1896

The Unchangeable One
Psalm cxix. 89-96. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me:
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons

On Gen. viii. I
On Gen. viii. I Hippolytus, the expositor of the Targum, and my master, Jacobus Rohaviensis, have said: On the twenty-seventh day of the month Jiar, which is the second Hebrew month, the ark rose from the base of the holy mount; and already the waters bore it, and it was carried upon them round about towards the four cardinal points of the world. The ark accordingly held off from the holy mount towards the east, then returned towards the west, then turned to the south, and finally, bearing off eastwards,
Hippolytus—The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus

The Song of the Three Children
DANIEL iii. 16, 17, 18. O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. We read this morning, instead of the Te Deum, the Song of the Three Children, beginning, 'Oh all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

Nature of Covenanting.
A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions. It may be made between superiors and inferiors, or between equals. The sentiment that a covenant can be made only between parties respectively independent of one another is inconsistent with the testimony of Scripture. Parties to covenants in a great variety of relative circumstances, are there introduced. There, covenant relations among men are represented as obtaining not merely between nation and nation,
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

That it is Profitable to Communicate Often
The Voice of the Disciple Behold I come unto Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed through Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast which Thou, O God, of Thy goodness hast prepared for the poor.(1) Behold in Thee is all that I can and ought to desire, Thou art my salvation and redemption, my hope and strength, my honour and glory. Therefore rejoice the soul of Thy servant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, do I lift up my soul.(2) I long now to receive Thee devoutly and reverently, I desire
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

Covenanting Enforced by the Grant of Covenant Signs and Seals.
To declare emphatically that the people of God are a covenant people, various signs were in sovereignty vouchsafed. The lights in the firmament of heaven were appointed to be for signs, affording direction to the mariner, the husbandman, and others. Miracles wrought on memorable occasions, were constituted signs or tokens of God's universal government. The gracious grant of covenant signs was made in order to proclaim the truth of the existence of God's covenant with his people, to urge the performance
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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