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Psalm 56:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. Thou tellest my wanderings. Every step which the fugitive had taken when pursued by his enemies, was not only observed but thought worthy of counting and recording. We perhaps are so confused after a long course of trouble, that we hardly know where we have or where we have not been; but the omniscient and considerate Father of our spirits remembers all in detail; for he has counted them over as men count their gold, for even the trial of our faith is precious in his sight.

Put thou my tears into thy bottle. His sorrows were so many that there would need a great wineskin to hold them all. There is no allusion to the little complimentary lachrymators for fashionable and fanciful Romans, it is a more robust metaphor by far; such floods of tears had David wept that a leathern bottle would scarce hold them. He trusts that the Lord will be so considerate of his tears as to store them up as men do the juice of the vine, and he hopes that the place of storage will be a special one -- thy bottle, not a bottle.

Are they not in thy book? Yes, they are recorded there, but let not only the record but the grief itself be present to thee. Look on my griefs as real things, for these move the heart more than a mere account, however exact. How condescending is the Lord! How exact his knowledge of us! How generous his estimation! How tender his regard!

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

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 Psalms 56:8 . Put thou my tears into thy bottle. But it implies much more than at first suggests itself, and much more than I can attempt to write. For instance, it is as if David had said, "Visit me, and behold my tears;" ("O visit me with thy salvation!") for without such visit there could be no bottling of his tears. "Thou tellest my wanderings; O visit me, and behold my anguish; put my tears into thy bottle," for "they have been my meat day and night." Psalms 42:3 . "Keep them before thee, by way of remembrance, and when thou seest the bottle, O think of him whose tears it contains. Are they not in thy book?" That is, God's book of remembrance, that was written for those "who thought upon his name" ( Malachi 3:16 ), just as the kings of old used to keep a book of chronicles of important events. See Esther 6:1-11 . John Gadsby, 1860.

(We insert this to show what has been said by others; but we do not think there is the slightest allusion to this piece of Roman etiquette in this text. C. H. S.)

Verse 8. My tear: the singular used collectively. In thy bottle: as if one should say, take care of my tears, as of a kind of wine that is very costly, and very pleasant to thee; or, that hereafter you may measure out to me just that quantity of joys: a metaphor from the keeper of a vineyard, who receives into his vessel the drops of the grapes pressed out by the winepress of affliction. The word dag (iter) (leather or skin bottle) denotes the manner in which they preserved their wine. ( 1 Samuel 16:20 ; Joshua 9:4 Joshua 9:13 ), and milk also (Jud 4:19). Martin Geier.

Verse 8. Put thou my tears into thy bottle. What a sweet thought is suggested here of God's remembrance of his people's affliction! It is an interesting figure of speech, of bottling their tears. But the sense is, they are remembered. And woe will be to the man that offends one of God's little ones on his account. What are now bottles of tears, will be poured out in the end as so many vials of wrath. But reader! think how the tears of Jesus have been treasured up when shedding for the sins of his people. Robert Hawker, 1753-1827.

Verse 8. Put thou my tears into thy bottle. It is the witty observation of one, that God is said in Scripture to have a bag and a bottle, a bag for our sins, and a bottle for our tears; and that we should help to fill this, as we have that. There is an allusion here in the original that cannot be Anglicized. John Trapp.

Verse 8. Are they not in thy book? While we remain in this vale of misery, God keeps all our tears in a bottle; so precious is the water that is distilled from penitent eyes; and because he will be sure not to fail, he notes how many drops there be in his register. It was a precious ointment wherewith the woman in the Pharisee's house (it is thought Mary Magdalene) anointed the feet of Christ; but her tears, wherewith she washed them, were more worth than her spikenard. Abraham Wright, in "A Practical Commentary or Exposition upon the Book of Psalms," 1661.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8. Here are --

  1. Manifold mercies, to reclaim from wanderings.
  2. Tender mercies, putting tears in a bottle.
  3. Covenant mercies, "Are they not," etc. G. R.
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