The turtledove and pigeon represent mourning innocence, powerlessness, meekness, and humility. No labor is symbolized here, nor is uncomplaining submission, but rather harmlessness, a proclivity to make peace, and even sadness. In Matthew 10:16, as Christ prepares to send the apostles out to represent Him, He instructs them: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Later, the apostle Paul instructs the much-beloved Philippian congregation to "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless..." (Philippians 2:14-16).
Isaiah draws on a turtledove's characteristic to describe Israel's social situation:
We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; and as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. (Isaiah 59:11-15)
Overall, the turtledove's imagery is of humility mixed with sadness caused by the overwhelming accumulation of the effects of sin and repentant sorrow because we have been so much trouble to God. This quality is rewarding, as Psalm 147:3 comforts, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 34:17-19 adds, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."