Though you have slept among the sheepfolds, yet shall you be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
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Augustine of Hippo
14. Now in that which followeth, he turneth himself to address the members themselves, whereof the beauty of the House is composed, saying, "If ye sleep in the midst of the lots, wings of a dove silvered, and between the shoulders thereof in the freshness of gold" (ver. 13). First, we must here examine the order of the words, in what manner the sentence is ended; which certainly awaiteth, when there is said, "If ye sleep:" secondly, in that which he saith, namely, "wings of dove silvered," whether in the singular number it must be understood as being, "of this wing" thereof, or in the plural as, "these wings." But the singular number the Greek excludeth, where always in the plural we read it written. But still it is uncertain whether it be these wings; or whether, "O ye wings," so as that he may seem to speak to the wings themselves. Whether therefore by the words which have preceded, that sentence be ended, so that the order is, "The Lord shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel with much virtue, if ye sleep in the midst of the lots, O ye wings of a dove silvered:" or by these which follow, so that the order is, "If ye sleep in the midst of the lots, the wings of a dove silvered with snow shall be whitened in Selmon:" that is, the wings themselves shall be whitened, if ye sleep in the midst "of the lots:" so that he may be understood to say this to them that are divided to the beauty of the House, as it were spoils; that is, if ye sleep in the "midst ofthe lots," O ye that are divided to the beauty of the House, "through the manifestation of the Spirit unto profit," so that "to one indeed is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge," etc., if then ye sleep in the midst of the lots, then the wings of a dove silvered with snow shall be whitened in Selmon. It may also be thus: "If ye being the wings of a dove silvered, sleep in the midst of the lots, with snow they shall be whitened in Selmon," so as that those men be understood who through grace receive remission of sins. Whence also of the Church Herself, is said in the Song of Songs, "Who is She that goeth up whitened?" For this promise of God is held out through the Prophet, saying, "If your sins shall have been like scarlet, like snow I will whiten them." It may also thus be understood, so that in that which hath been said, "wings of a dove silvered," there be understood, ye shall be, so that this is the sense, O ye that like as it were spoils to the beauty of the house are divided, if ye sleep in the "midst of the lots," wings of a dove silvered ye shall be: that is, into higher places ye shall be lifted up, adhering however to the bond of the Church. For I think no other dove silvered can be better perceived here, than that whereof hath been said, "One is My dove." But silvered She is because with divine sayings she hath been instructed: for the sayings of the Lord in another place are called "silver with fire refined, purged sevenfold." Some great good thing therefore it is, to sleep in the midst of the lots, which some would have to be the Two Testaments, so that to "sleep in the midst of the lots" is to rest on the authority of those Testaments, that is, to acquiesce in the testimony of either Testament: so that whenever anything out of them is produced and proved, all strife is ended in peaceful acquiescence. ...
15. "Between the shoulders," however. This is indeed a part of the body, it is a part about the region of the heart, at the hinder parts however, that is, at the back: which part of that dove silvered he saith is "in the greenness of gold," that is, in the vigour of wisdom, which vigour I think cannot be better understood than by love. But why on the back, and not on the breast? Although I wonder in what sense this word is put in another Psalm, where there is said, "Between His shoulders He shall overshadow thee, and under His wings thou shalt hope:" forasmuch as under wings there cannot be overshadowed anything but what shall be under the breast. And in Latin, indeed, "between the shoulders," perchance in some degree of both parts may be understood, both before and behind, that we may take shoulders to be the parts which have the head betwixt them; and in Hebrew perchance the word is ambiguous, which may in this manner also be understood: but the word that is in the Greek, metafrena, signifieth not anything but at the back, which is "between the shoulders." Is there for this reason there the greenness of gold, that is, wisdom and love, because in that place there are in a manner the roots of the wings? or because in that place is carried that light burden? For what are even the wings themselves, but the two commandments of love, whereon hangeth the whole Law and the Prophets? what is that same light burden, but that same love which in these two commandments is fulfilled? For whatever thing is difficult in a commandment, is a light thing to a lover. Nor on any other account is rightly understood the saying, "My burden is light," but because He giveth the Holy Spirit, whereby love is shed abroad in our hearts, in order that in love we may do freely that which he that doeth in fear doeth slavishly; nor is he a lover of what is right, when he would prefer, if so be it were possible, that what is right should not be commanded.
16. It may also be required, when it hath not been said, if ye sleep in the lots, but "in the midst of the lots;" what this is, "in the midst of the lots." Which expression indeed, if more exactly it were translated from the Greek, would signify, "in the midst between the lots," which is in no one of the interpreters I have read: therefore I suppose, that what hath been said signifieth much the same, to wit the expression, "in the midst of the lots." Hence therefore what seemeth to me I will explain. Ofttimes this word is wont to be used for uniting and pacifying one thing and another, that they may not mutually disagree: as when God is establishing His covenant between Himself and His people, this word the Scripture useth; for instead of that expression which is in Latin between Me and you, the Greek hath, in the midst of Me and you. So also of the sign of Circumcision, when God speaketh to Abraham, He saith, "There shall be a testament between Me and thee and all thy seed:" which the Greek hath, in the midst of Me and thee, and the midst of thy seed. Also when He was speaking to Noe of the bow in the clouds to establish a sign, this word very often He repeateth: and that which the Latin copies have, between Me and you, or between Me and every living soul, and whatever suchlike expressions there are used, is found in the Greek to be, in the middle of Me and you, which is ana meson. David also and Jonathan establish a sign between them, that they may not disagree with a difference of thought: and that which in Latin is expressed, between both, in the middle of both, the Greek hath expressed in the same word, which is ana meson. But it was best that in this passage of the Psalms our translators said not, "among the lots," which expression is more suited to the Latin idiom; but, "in the midst of the lots," as though "in the midst between the lots," which rather is the reading in the Greek, and which is wont to be said in the case of those things which ought to have a mutual consent. ...But why in the "lots" the Testaments should be perceived, though this word is Greek, and the Testament is not so named, the reason is, because through a testament is given inheritance, which in Greek is called klhronomia, and an heir klhronomoj. Now klhroj in Greek is the term for lot, and lots according to the promise of God are called those parts of the inheritance which were distributed to the people. Whence the tribe of Levi was commanded not to have lot among their brethren, because they were sustained by tithes from them. For, I think, they that have been ordained in the grades of the Ecclesiastical Ministry have been called both Clergy and Clerks, because Matthias by lot was chosen, who we read was the first that was ordained by the Apostles. Henceforth, because of inheritance which is given by testament, as though by that which is made that which maketh, by the name of "lots" the Testaments themselves are signified.
17. Nevertheless, to me here another sense also occurreth, if I mistake not, to be preferred; understanding by cleri the inheritances themselves: so that, whereas the inheritance of the Old Testament, although in a shadow significant of the future, is earthly felicity; but the inheritance of the New Testament is everlasting immortality; to "sleep in the midst of the lots" is not too earnestly now to seek the former, and still patiently to look for the latter. ...And because so well they have slept, on them, as it were on wings now flieth, and with praises is exalted, the Church: to wit, the Dove silvered, in order that by this fame of theirs, posterity having been invited to imitate them, while in like manner the rest also sleep, there may be added wings whereby even unto the end of the world sublimely she may be preached.