Bottles in the Smoke

My soul fainteth for thy salvation:
but I hope in thy word.
Mine eyes fail for thy word,
saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke;
yet do I not forget thy statutes.

Psalms 119:81-83

Difficult Days

I was reading in my devotions this morning (04/25/16) and I came across the passage I have included above.  I was arrested by the statement “For I am become like a bottle in the smoke...”

I stopped, and read it again.  Actually I read it several times.  I was not finished with the reading schedule for the day, so I marked the verse and finished reading the rest of the verses on my schedule.

When I finished, I turned back to the passage and began to meditate on it.  It was one of those thoughts that just captures your attention, and won’t let you go.

A bottle in the smoke? What does that even mean?

A Little Research

Out came my favorite commentary program, and I read all that I could on that verse, and then read the passage over again many times.  Here is what I found.

In the Old Testament days bottles were most often made from animal skins rather than plastic or blown glass like today.  People would use the leather hide for the bottle, and line the inside with the bladder of the animal to, hopefully, keep the bottle from leaking.  I guess you wouldn’t want to use an animal with a leaking bladder! Sorry…my mind wandered there for a bit.  Back to the subject at hand.

These bottles were used to hold wine or water, depending on the need.  When  a bottle was empty , or at the end of the day it was hung in the tent until needed again.

_DSC5660Now, these tents were quite filled with smoke.  There were often fires inside the tents or huts.  These fires would be for cooking, and for warmth, and for light.  If you have ever spent much time around an open fire, you know that they can produce an immense amount of smoke.

As the bottles hung in the tent day after day, the smoke would swirl around them.  These leather bottles, when exposed to smoke for long periods of time would become black, and sooty, and cracked.  They no longer maintained their beauty.  The smoke had thoroughly devastated them.  You could always tell a bottle that had been a long time in the smoke.

A Little Application

Perhaps no other Bible character knew more of suffering than David.  Job might be a close second, but David knew suffering.  He spent his days exposed to the hatred of his enemies, the rejection of his family, and the pain of the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba.

One cannot read the Psalms without feeling the emotion in them.  Smoke…the smoke of affliction was all around him.

He often prayed that God remove it.  He often poured out his complaint before God. (See Psalms 142)

Then, in Psalms 119 he says, that he had become like a bottle in the smoke.  His physical appearance had been affected by his suffering and affliction.

This is often the case.  I was reminded of this just the other day as I thought of a dear lady who has gone through tremendous suffering in the last few years.  If you were to see her, you might think she was just a cold, withdrawn, and bitter lady.  But if you talked to her, you would see tears right on the surface.  Smoke does that.  It brings tears to your eyes.  She is like a bottle in the smoke.

David’s Hope

When the smoke was the thickest, and his heart was overwhelmed, David affirmed his faith and confidence in the statutes of God.  Even when his circumstances did not seem hopeful, he rested in God’s Word.

This is difficult, I confess.  It is easy to quote or meditate on a verse of Scripture when the air is clear and our strength is full.  However, when the smoke is in our eyes, and swirling around us, and permeating our very being, do we still trust God’s Word?

When it seems that there is no way that His Word can be fulfilled; do we still believe him?

Dear one, you can trust His Word!  Don’t let the smoke blind you.  He hasn’t forgotten you.  Don’t let the circumstances drown you.

Hear my cry, O God;
attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:
I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows:
thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
Thou wilt prolong the king’s life:
and his years as many generations.
He shall abide before God for ever:
O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever,
that I may daily perform my vows

Psalms 61

Your Story

What is your story?  Have you ever felt like David?  Do you feel like that now?  Maybe you could share how God’s Word has helped get you through those times. Please also consider sharing this post with someone who needs it today.

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