The suffering of the child of God who wrote Psalm 119 was intense. He expresses this in verses 83, 84 in these words: "For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget Thy statutes. How many are the days of Thy servant? when wilt Thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?" Plainly it seemed to him that, if God did not come with salvation, his life would soon be ended. His life was in great peril.
He did not mean that he was like a glass bottle, but rather like a leather bottle, a wineskin. These when not used were hung up and not only shriveled and dried but cracked due to lack of moisture. They also became stained and coated by the smoke of an open fire in the house. No doubt he suffered in a way that caused him to lose weight so that wrinkles appeared on his face; and his suffering showed clearly on his face. Our versification expresses it this way:
Thy statutes I do not forget,
Though wasting grief I know;
Thy servant's days are few, O Lord;
When wilt Thou judge my foe?
The truth we should take hold of is that, even though he was in a sad physical condition and appeared to be ready to die, spiritually he was strong. He did not swerve from walking upon the pathway of God's law in order to escape this suffering. He rightfully calls himself God's servant.
What humility he shows here, but also what spirituality! So often in our afflictions we act as though God must be our servant; and if He does not relieve us soon, we, forgetting His statutes, worship and have before Him another god. Yes, that is right. We break the first commandment of His law! That god is our flesh. God must serve us and must do it our way. We find it hard and often fail to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Not so with the psalmist, though he desires relief.
Follow this example of the psalmist. Let nothing turn you from serving Him. Never humiliate Him by treating Him as though He is your servant. Wondering when He will execute judgment is not wondering whether He will do so. Hope in His word, and you will not be disappointed.
Song for Meditation: Psalter #229
Why not sing along??
William Hendrikson: "Scripture emphasizes the fact that the Church in both dispensations is one. It is one chosen people in Christ. It is one tent; one vineyard; one family—Abraham is the father of all believers whether they are circumcised or not—one olive tree; one elect race, royal priesthood, holy nation, people, for God’s own possession; one beautiful bride; and in its consummation one new Jerusalem whose gates bear the names of the twelve tribes and whose foundations are inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles" (More Than Conquerors, p. 135).
- Date: 26-August