Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 9, 2011

catching each drop

In my preparation for writing this morning, my mind was full with potential topics. But a theme from 2009 kept coming to mind. It was one of those “I have never seen that before passages.” It was a Psalm of David that conveyed the Father gathering tears in a bottle. How could I have never seen or remembered reading that verse? An adventure of trying to understand Psalm 56:8 began. Words from Psalm 56 take us to a time when the Philistines seized David at a place called Gath. Even a quick read of the chapter will paint a portrait of the dire straits he was facing. Men were pursuing him, mercy was needed, and yet his words showed great trust. But what did he mean by tears in a bottle?

Psalm 56:8 (KJV)
Thou numberest my wanderings; put thou my tears into thy bottle. Are they not in thy book?

Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll-are they not in your record?

Psalm 56:8 (MSG)
You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

From the masterful work of Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, we find words about the tears and the bottle.

“The custom in old times was, when a person was ill or in great distress, for his friends to go 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.”

Great care was shown for the sufferer. Greater care is shown by the Father when tears flow. David would have understood tear bottles and how they were used. Let your mind’s eye view a portrait of David in great difficulty, with tears running down his face. In your view of the portrait, can you see God’s tear bottle catching each drop? Understanding all the riches of Psalm 56:8 is probably beyond us, but viewing the landscape of God’s care can be easily seen.

Can you relate to tossing and turning through a sleepless night? Have you ever had tears fill your eyes when emotion overtook logic? In those moments, how did you view the Father’s care? Although you may have great security in your relationship with the Lord, often in those tear bottle moments you don’t picture the Father’s care, only the gravity of the current circumstance. But widening the view of David’s portrait gives us depth that can be taken from David’s life. I can see tears, a tear bottle and trust. Let the Word from Psalm 56:3-4 complete the picture.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

So in the most difficult of times, even when tears may flow and sleep may be hard, David has given us two fresh brush strokes that can be used on the canvas of our lives. Trust when logic would say otherwise, and praise when fear would be the normal response. Embrace the current landscape of you journey by realizing that David’s example can be followed. But far greater is the truth that in tear bottle moments, God cares deeply for you as He completes the portrait of your life.

When the next tear falls from your eye, remember the tear bottle.


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