My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word. My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, “When will You comfort me?” For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, yet I do not forget Your statutes. How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me? The proud have dug pits for me, which is not according to Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; they persecute me wrongfully; help me! They almost made an end of me on earth, but I did not forsake Your precepts. Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth. (Psalm 119:81-88)
Like A Wineskin In Smoke
Life is filled with troubles and distress. There are times when the clouds of despondency overshadow everything in life and the heart is filled with despair. The spirit can often be worn to the point of collapse as persecutions surround the soul with the burdens of life that will bear hard upon the mind. A need for escape from dark days is paramount. The psalmist describes his life as a wineskin commonly found among the furnishings of a Bedouin tent. Animal skins were used to carry water or wine and often found hanging inside the tents. As the smoke swirled around the interior the wineskins would become dark and stained with the soot of the fires. The skins would be dried out becoming wrinkled and worn. The psalmist depicts his life as a wineskin that has turned dark and dingy with distress and overwhelmed with the burdens of life. He felt empty and useless. The trials of life can have a remarkable impact on the faith of the people of God.
The salvation of the psalmist comes from the word of God. He felt worn out from the slanderous treatment of others but his hope was placed firmly in the word of God. Through the knowledge of the word, the promises of God were clearly defined and illustrated the Lord would never fail in keeping His word. It was clear that obedience to the will of the Father would not only deliver him from the wrath of God but also deliver him from the persecution of others. Those who sought to destroy the psalmist did not trust in the word. They hated the instructions of the Lord and tried to destroy the people of God. Faced with such distress, the psalmist trusted in the word of God relying upon His grace to deliver him. Through the knowledge of the word, salvation came to secure the soul of the faithful. What was key to the joy of the psalmist was his understanding of the law of God and how it would revive his spirit that had become like a dried-up wineskin.
Christians are not immune from trials, troubles, and dark days. It is a part of life and everyone who desires to live a godly life will suffer in one form or another persecution and despair. It is during these times the word of God becomes so important in the life of the child of God. A glaring difference between the hope of the psalmist and the hope of the Christian is there is so much more revealed in the word of God now than when the psalmist was seeking the word of God. For the child of God, Jesus Christ is the hope of redemption, restoration, and the rekindling of the spirit to overcome the trials of life. Faith comes from knowing the word of God. The more one spends in the word of God the more resolved they become in fighting off the sorrows of life. There will be times that a man will feel like a dried-out wineskin in smoke but God will revive the spirit through His word. Jesus said knowing the word of the Father and believing in the Christ will be like rivers of living water flowing out of the heart. Life will no longer be dried out but nourished in the word.
In the KJV the phrase is translated “I am become like a bottle in the smoke.” And the phrase stays the same in the Anglican Breviary which uses the texts of the psalms from the Book of Common Prayer. The “bottle” doesn’t capture the historical and culture reference of the wineskin and the comparison to it in a tent with smoke. Thank you for sharing this because psalm 119 is an important part of the day hours on Sundays (Terce, Sext and None) and they are prayed often, this will help with my own mediation on the Word of God when I pay this psalm.
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