During last Sunday’s service, I witnessed a slight commotion in the church just as the pastor was winding up the preaching. I rose to see what was happening, and I was met with five white doves making rounds in our church. This was a little odd to everyone in the church as we had never seen doves around our church, let alone in the neighbourhood where the church is located. Our senior pastor quickly calmed everyone down and informed us there was a possibility that the doves had been sent to our church by God for a reason. That evening, I sat at my computer in my study room as I wanted to know the link between God, doves, and the Bible. My main topic for my research was, “What does the dove symbolize in the bible?”
A dove in the Bible is used to symbolize the presence of the holy spirit. In Luke 3:22, the Bible records how the holy spirit descended during the baptism of Jesus in a dove form. A dove is also used in the Bible to symbolize love, purity, and humility. Additionally, a dove is used in the Bible as a symbol of something clean/pure.
So, join me until the end as we look more into this topic. I will discuss the significance of the Dove in the Bible and how doves appear in the Bible. I will also discuss different interpretations of doves in different cultures, among many more topics.
The Significance of the Dove in the Bible?
The Bible uses the Dove to signify the peace God gave humankind. In Genesis 8:8-12, Noah sends a dove several times to confirm whether the waters had receded. This is after God had sent the floods that swept away everything except that which Noah brought in with him in the ark. After sending the Dove out a number of times, it finally came back the last time with an olive leaf it had plucked from an olive tree. This was a sign to Noah that God had brought peace again to earth.
A dove is also used in the Bible to signify the rest that God gives us. This is suggested in Psalms 55:6 when the author wishes that he had the wings of a dove to fly away and get some rest. A dove is also used in the Bible to signify love and purity. A dove as a symbol of love is suggested in Song of Solomon 5:2 when the author likens his love to a flawless dove.
How do doves appear in the Bible?
Doves have appeared differently in the Bible to mean or represent different things. The first instance in which a dove appears in the Bible appears as a messenger of good news or peace. In Genesis 8:8-12 after God had sent floods to the earth, Noah sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded on earth. The Dove kept being sent out of the ark several times until it came back with an olive branch one day. This was a sign of good news to Noah because he knew that the floods that had consumed the entire earth were finally over.
Another common instance when a dove appears in the Bible, is in the book of Luke 3:21-22 when Jesus was being baptized. The Bible records that after Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist, he started praying, and the heaven opened, and the holy spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. The Dove appears in the scenario to represent the holy spirit sent from God to Jesus.
Doves also appear in the Bible as a symbol of purity or something that is clean, that was worth a sacrifice in the Old Testament. Leviticus 12:6 records how a dove was used for purification, as one would be required to present it to the priest as a sin offering.
Doves also appear in the Bible, especially in the book of Song of Solomon. The author uses the name Dove to liken it to the innocence or humility of his lover. This author also uses the Dove to describe his lover’s eyes, as suggested in Song of Solomon 1:15.
What do doves mean in different cultures?
Aztec culture usually used a dove to represent love or Mother Nature. For instance, the Aztec people believed that the Goddess of love, known as Xochquetzal, descended on earth in the form of a dove. This Goddess is considered to be the mother of humanity to the Aztec people and is the one who gave them their beautiful languages and speech.
In Chinese culture, a dove is usually used to represent romance or any kind of love among people. A dove is also used in this culture to represent faithfulness and eternal bonds. Doves are known to have one partner throughout their life, portraying the level of faithfulness between them. A male dove is also said to help the female Dove to care for their young ones, a great sign of love towards his family. With this, the Chinese people use the doves to represent or show love.
Native American culture
In Native American cultures, doves are usually seen to mean something sacred, which can act as messengers of news between the living and those in the spiritual world. Other tribes in this culture also believe that doves are sacred birds, and their feathers can be used to offer someone protection against any evil attack.
In ancient Mesopotamia, doves were considered to symbolize the Goddess of love known as Inanna-Ishtar. The doves were seen as sacred in this culture, and different paintings of doves were found in the temples of the people of Mesopotamia.
The Japanese culture also linked doves to their gods, as they believed doves had powers and abilities to act as messengers from the spiritual realm. Doves are also used in the Japanese culture as a symbol of honour, to pay tribute to the lives lost in Hiroshima.
A dove in ancient Egypt symbolized the Tree of Life or Innocence. The Dove was also used in ancient Egypt to symbolize purity and love. This is why there were several drawings of the Dove on their Hieroglyphics of Horapollo.
5 Meanings of the Dove in the Bible
Purity and perfection
A dove is used in the Bible to represent purity or something that is perfect. This is seen in Song of Solomon 5:2, where the author likens his lover to a flawless dove. As you further read the book of Song of Solomon 6:9, you see how the author describes his lover as perfect. He also likens the lover to a dove, which is so perfect and unique. With this, we can see that the Bible uses the Dove to symbolize purity and perfection.
A dove is also used in the Bible to mean something clean or pure before God. In the Old Testament, people had to bring the priest sacrificial animals so that the priest would use the animal’s blood for the attornment of their sins. Just like in the modern world, there were different social classes of people in the Old Testament, those who were rich and poor. For poor people who could not afford to bring a lamb as a sacrifice, the priest would demand a dove from them, as it was a little cheaper to get.
Genesis 15:9 also records Abraham using a dove as a sacrifice to God to symbolize how clean of a bird it is before the lord. God had commanded Abraham to bring him a heifer, a ram, a goat, a young pigeon and a dove to make a sacrifice to him. After this sacrifice, God made a covenant with Abraham, as suggested in Genesis 15:18.
A dove has also been used in the Bible to mean peace. In the Old Testament, during the time of Noah, God sent floods to destroy the whole earth and only saved Noah and those he commanded to be put in the ark with him. After raining heavily for forty days and nights, the waters started receding, and the tops of the mountains could be seen.
Noah did not, however, know if the water had completely receded the grounds and sent out the Dove multiple times to confirm that. The Dove finally came back one day with an olive leaf, and Noah knew that the waters had ended and the ground was getting dry again. The Dove coming back with an olive leaf assured Noah that God had brought peace to the world again and that there were no more floods, as suggested in Genesis 8:11.
Presence of the Holy Spirit
A dove is also used in the Bible to mean that there is the presence of God or the holy spirit in the surrounding. During the baptism of Jesus, the holy spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. God needed to send the holy spirit down to fill Jesus Christ before his mission and saw it fit to use the Dove. Since then, Christians have associated the Dove with the holy spirit.
A dove is also used in the Bible to mean love. This is suggested in Song of Solomon 2:14, where the narrator refers to his lover as a dove. In this scripture, the narrator is beckoning his lover to come from her hideout and show him her face so that he can hear her sweet voice. Song of Solomon 5:2 also suggests that a dove may be used in the Bible to mean love, as the author likens his lover to a flawless dove.
What do different dove colors mean?
A white dove is seen to be pure, kind, and loving, and so it is used to mean peace, love, and purity. If you are a Christian, especially a Catholic, you might have encountered a dove painting in the church. The dove painting can be used to mean the peace of God is in the church or that there is the presence of the holy spirit.
Additionally, most people use doves in weddings or different ceremonies to represent the love between two people or groups. White doves have also been used to symbolize purity and innocence.
A grey dove is used most of the time when we feel we need a sign to change things in our lives or do them differently. A grey dove is mostly used as a connection between the real world and the spirit world, where you can be sent a message from the spirit world through a grey dove.
Spotting a grey dove may also mean that your dead loved one has come to visit or check on you. Grey doves are usually linked to the spiritual world, and their presence may be suggested that a deceased loved one is trying to send you a message or is simply looking after you.
Seeing a multicoloured dove or coming across it is considered special, as this type of Dove is only found in rare places like Oceania and Southeast Asia. Seeing this kind of Dove may mean that something good is about to happen in your life, and its presence is good news. It may also mean that you may have certain fears in your life, and you need to let go and take life easily. This is because this bird is known to be very territorial about its space, meaning that it usually spends most of its life looking out for any enemy.
Black and red Dove
Black and red love usually means something negative has happened or is about to happen. A black and red dove may be used to represent death or mourning. Coming across a black and red dove may mean that you are about to lose a loved one to death, or you are about to enter into a period of mourning. A black and red dove may also mean that you are not at peace with yourself and may be struggling with anger or depression that you must let go of.
Why is a dove associated with the Holy Spirit?
The Dove is usually associated with the holy spirit because of what took place during the baptism of Jesus. As we all know, the holy spirit is just a spirit and therefore is not visible to anyone. However, using the baptism of Jesus Christ, God wanted the crowd to see the holy spirit he was sending down on Jesus as a sign that he had sent Jesus. With this, the book of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John records that the holy spirit descended as a dove to Jesus.
Since then, most Christian churches have continued associating the Dove with the holy spirit and using it as its symbol. The presence of a dove in a church is considered a very special thing, as it is speculated to be a major sign from God to his people.
What does it mean when you dream about doves?
Dreaming about doves may hold different meanings depending on the colour of the Dove or the number of doves you will see in your dream. Dreaming of a white dove may mean that your life is at peace or peace will soon come into your life. Dreaming about a white dove may also mean that your life is in a good place, and you need not worry.
Dreaming about doves may also be a bad sign, especially when the Dove appears in your dreams in a black or red dove. A dream about a red or black dove may be a warning sign that something bad may happen to you, and you need to be aware of your surroundings. Seeing a black dove may also mean that you are about to lose a loved one to death, especially if you have a close sick person you care for.
Bible verses about doves?
Genesis 8:8-12 records how Noah sent out a dove several times to see if the water had receded so they could get out of the ark. The Dove in this scripture is used as a messenger of good news as it came back with an olive branch, a sign to tell Noah that it was all good.
Leviticus 5:7 explains that it was okay for a person to bring doves for burnt offerings if they could not afford a lamb. Even in the Old Testament, there were different social classes, and people experiencing poverty could not afford to purchase or own a lamb for their sacrifices. God then commanded that it was okay for one to bring a dove instead.
Matthew 21:12 records Jesus driving out those who were selling and buying items in the temple. Jesus was angered as people were using the temple for sales instead of using it for the glory of God. The scripture records that even those selling doves were not spared, as Jesus also drove them out.
Psalms 55:6 records the author seeking the rest of a dove, as he suggests he wishes he had wings so that he could fly away and rest.
Luke 3:22 also records the holy spirit descending on Jesus during his baptism in the form of a dove. This is why the Dove has been majorly associated with the holy spirit.
Does God still use doves to send a message to us?
God can send us a message through anything he wishes, as he is the creator of everything on earth. God can use doves to send us a sign that he is with us, or the holy spirit is with us if we trust him. It is important to pray over a sign of a Dove. You may think it is from God to get a clear message on what the Dove may mean. However, we may encounter or come across doves and not be a message from God. We can, however, take time to appreciate God’s holiness, peace and love towards us, as doves represent all of these. `
What does it mean if you keep seeing doves?
When you keep seeing doves around, you may have different meanings depending on your culture, religion or state as an individual. If you are a Christian and you keep seeing doves, it may mean that the presence of the holy spirit is around you, and God is letting you know. Seeing a dove may also mean that God s sending his helper, the holy spirit, to guide you on a path you may be doubting yourself.
When you keep seeing doves may also mean that your loved one who is passed is trying to send you a message of love to let you know they still care for you. Seeing doves around you may also mean that you possess an innocence or purity that is to be acknowledged.
You may also keep seeing doves as a reminder to remain humble and have a forgiving heart. Most of the time, we may get hurt by people we trusted the most and therefore find it difficult to forgive them. When you are in this state and see a grey dove, it may inspire you to forgive the person and let go of any anger within you.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.