On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves…
The scriptures are the revelation of Jesus Christ and the mystery of God’s redemptive love for humankind. When we look into the meaning of the images in “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” we are looking for a fresh revelation of his love, expressed through God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, as demonstrated in the Bible.
The Song of Solomon is a rich, gorgeous poem describing the love of God for his Bride, who is composed of his People, who form his Church. God, our heavenly Husband, is the giver, and we, the Bride whom he has come to seek and to save, are the receivers of his precious gifts. I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine (Song of Songs 6:3a ESV).
The gift of the two turtle doves on the second day of Christmas symbolize the Holy Spirit, as he is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2 ESV).
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 14:15-18 NKJV).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:26-27 NKJV).
The Holy Spirit is also represented by the two turtledoves that Mary and Joseph brought to the temple in Jerusalem, eight days after the birth of Jesus, to present him in the temple:
“…they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord…And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is written in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves… (Luke 2:22, 24 KJV).
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:25-26 NKJV).
Reading further in Luke chapter two, you’ll see that the Holy Spirit was present upon Simeon and Anna the prophetess, and that they prophesied over the infant Jesus in the temple, “to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
We can also see the “two turtledoves” aspect of the Holy Spirit when Mary, pregnant by the Holy Spirit, visits her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, in Luke 1:39-56:
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:41-42 NKJV).
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47 NKJV).
We see the pregnant cousins Mary and Elizabeth, like two turtledoves prophesying over their babies; the infants Jesus and John recognizing each other in the wombs of their mothers; and Simeon and Anna, aged prophet and prophetess, speaking prophesy over the infant Jesus like two turtledoves – all filled with the Holy Spirit.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV).