17th June 2011

Tears In A Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle
You have recorded each one in your book.”
Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Reading the Psalms is good for the soul.

Psalm 56 is about how bad David felt. It is melodramatic and more than a tad melancholic. He feels everything is stacked against him and that everyone is out to get him. He asserts that his only hope is in God.

I get the impression David felt sorry for himself, as I do often in my prayers too. Nevertheless he pours out his heart to God, and God sees him clearly, warts and all. At the beginning of the Psalm it explains that it should be sung to a now lost melody – “the Dove on Distant Oaks”. Even that sounds forlorn, like a lament on bagpipes.

In verse 8 he paints a beautiful image of how God, who is aware of all our sorrows, collects our tears in a bottle. Their collection is recorded in a book. Instead of “bottle” some translations use “wineskins”, others, more recent, use “scroll”. Bottle or wineskin seems closer to the original thought. It is as if our tears are so important to God that he collects them as someone would precious and fragrant oil, and bottles it for safe keeping.

God cares. This is what this Psalm tells us. He is there in the silence when we cry lonely tears. He is involved in our sadness and our grief. He remembers tenderly our tears, even when we get everything out of perspective. He weeps with us when we weep.

We can learn a lesson about prayer from David. Open up. Don’t hold back from God. Tell him what you think. Let him gather the bitter tears as well as the sweet. God is in the details of your sorrow as well as of your joy.

The wonderful thing is that God supplies a promise about our tears. One day all the pain and suffering we see around us will cease. That doesn’t sound possible in this world as we know it, does it? No, it doesn’t. God, however, will establish a new heaven and a new earth.

And, when that happens, the Bible records how that will affect us. God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4).

Heavenly Father, thank you that you feel our sorrows and our tears through your Son, Jesus, and for the hope of the future to come.

Study by James Henderson

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