By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Sometimes during trials and adversities of life, it is common to feel that God has forsaken us.
I have seen it time and time again, with family, friends, fellow ministers, and with myself.
Yet God promises that He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, He is the One that we can depend upon when everything in life is falling apart, for nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
Tonight while studying God’s Word, I found another powerful indicator of this fact.
It was there, tucked away for all to see, in the beautiful Book of Psalms.
David recorded the following words:
Psalm 56:8-You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?
This passage contains some powerful truths for myself, and for all of my fellow pilgrims in this maze of life.
Let’s start by talking about the context of this passage.
The events of this Psalm chronicle a particularly difficult time in David’s life, when he was captured by the Philistines in the city of Gath.
The story is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, when he was nearly apprehended by the Philistines. He had fled for his life from king Saul, and he ended up in a land where he was hated.
Recall that just a short time earlier he had killed the champion of the Philistines, Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
Now, here he is, running for his life!
His countrymen are out to get him; he has fled to a land of people who hate his God and who definitely want him dead.
Here is a man who knows what it is like to have friends and family fail him.
Here is a man who knows betrayal, heartbreak, and disappointment.
What can he do?
David resolves that when he is afraid, he will trust in God (Psalm 56:3).
He resolves that he will maintain his trust in God, realizing that ultimately flesh and blood cannot hurt him (Psalm 56:4).
His enemies attack him and would swallow him up, hounding him all day (Psalm 56:1-2); they twist his words, and only think about hurting him (Psalm 56:5).
They are going to lie in wait, and try their best to capture him and kill him (Psalm 56:6).
Yet David will continue to trust in God; he will pray to Him (Psalm 56:9), praise Him and His Word (Psalm 56:9-10), and ultimately trust in Him (Psalm 56:11).
He will remember the promises that he has made to God (Psalm 56:12), as he reflects on the ways that God has delivered him before (Psalm 56:13).
It is in the midst of this declaration of trust in God that David remembers that God “numbers” his wanderings.
What does this mean?
The Hebrew word used here is sa, and is translated in the Old Testament with the following words: scribe, told, declare, tell, numbered, number, scribes, show, count, declared, counted, scribe’s, speak, writer’s, accounted, commune, forth, numberest, numbering, reckon, showing, talk, tellest, and telling.
The words all carry the idea of a careful and accurate recording of something.
The Bible scribes were under script rules to carefully preserve and reproduce the Holy Scriptures; in the same way, an accountant would need to keep meticulous financial and personal records of transactions for business and tax purposes.
The psalmist is therefore pointing out that God has been keeping a meticulous record of his travels.
God knows all about the trials that we face.
He is not the unconcerned god of the deists, nor the immoral and malevolent god of the sadists.
He carefully sees our journey in this life, and He is aware of our adversities.
Keeping with that, we are told that God will put our “tears into” His “bottle.””
Charles Spurgeon, commenting on what others have said about this passage (even though not always agreeing with them) points out:
“Verse 8. Put thou my tears in thy bottle. Among other things in the collection of Mr. Abbott, of Cairo, he had a lachrymatory, or tear bottle, which had been found in a tomb at Thebes. This interested me very much. The custom in old times was, when a person was ill or in great distress, for his friends to go to see him, and take with them a tear bottle. Then, as the tears rolled down the cheeks of the sufferer, they were caught in these bottles, sealed up, and preserved as a memorial of the event. This is what David referred to in Ps 56:8.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David: 7 Volume Study Of The Psalms, 299330-29333 (Kindle Edition))
Friends, there is not a single tear that you have shed which God has not seen. There is not a single grief that you have experienced that He has not shared in.
Indeed, every trauma, every loss, every pain that you have ever endured, He has shared it with you. Indeed, they are written in His Book).
This is one of the reasons why the Incarnation is so powerful. Jesus becoming man shows us that God fully understands what we have grappled with in this life. If we think that we know loss, our sorrows cannot even begin to approach the anguish that He bore in every way at Calvary. Beloved, if there is one thing you need to know, it is that Jesus knows every tear you have shed, and He freely offers you His grace and His healing.
When He died on the Cross for our sins (1 Timothy 2:6), He took the punishment that we deserve (Matthew 20:28; Romans 5:8-9). He died so that we would not have to; indeed, He tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). He was buried, and three days later, He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He wants you to be saved, to experience His rest and His peace and His forgiveness with the promise of Heaven (Matthew 11:28-30).
Why not today, as a believer, repent of your sins and be baptized into Him (Acts 2:37-38; Galatians 3:26-29)?
If you are a child of God who at one time was united with Christ through baptism (Romans 6:3-4) but have wandered away from Him (James 5:19-20), why not today repent of your sins and confess them to the Lord to be restored to Him (1 John 1:9)?
He knows every tear that you have shed my friends. Why not accept the comfort that only He can afford?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.