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11

for now the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone.

12

The flowers appear on the earth;

the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove

is heard in our land.


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11. the winter—the law of the covenant of works (Mt 4:16).

rain is over—(Heb 12:18-24; 1Jo 2:8). Then first the Gentile Church is called "beloved, which was not beloved" (Ro 9:25). So "the winter" of estrangement and sin is "past" to the believer (Isa 44:22; Jer 50:20; 2Co 5:17; Eph 2:1). The rising "Sun of righteousness" dispels the "rain" (2Sa 23:4; Ps 126:5; Mal 4:2). The winter in Palestine is past by April, but all the showers were not over till May. The time described here is that which comes directly after these last showers of winter. In the highest sense, the coming resurrection and deliverance of the earth from the past curse is here implied (Ro 8:19; Re 21:4; 22:3). No more "clouds" shall then "return after the rain" (Ec 12:2; Re 4:3; compare Ge 9:13-17); "the rainbow round the throne" is the "token" of this.

12. flowers—tokens of anger past, and of grace come. "The summoned bride is welcome," say some fathers, "to weave from them garlands of beauty, wherewith she may adorn herself to meet the King." Historically, the flowers, &c., only give promise; the fruit is not ripe yet; suitable to the preaching of John the Baptist, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"; not yet fully come.

the time of … singing—the rejoicing at the advent of Jesus Christ. Gregory Nyssenus refers the voice of the turtledove to John the Baptist. It with the olive branch announced to Noah that "the rain was over and gone" (Ge 8:11). So John the Baptist, spiritually. Its plaintive "voice" answers to his preaching of repentance (Jer 8:6, 7). Vulgate and Septuagint translate, "The time of pruning," namely, spring (Joh 15:2). The mention of the "turtle's" cooing better accords with our text. The turtledove is migratory (Jer 8:7), and "comes" early in May; emblem of love, and so of the Holy Ghost. Love, too, shall be the keynote of the "new song" hereafter (Isa 35:10; Re 1:5; 14:3; 19:6). In the individual believer now, joy and love are here set forth in their earlier manifestations (Mr 4:28).




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