No Matter What
81My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.
82My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me?
85The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.
86All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
I’ve seen quite a few memes on Facebook declaring that 2017 has been a terrible year and people are happy to see it drawing to a close. Many across the world feel battered and broken, disappointed and fearful. I suspect for many these are political comments and I refuse to become a part of that discussion in this venue. And there have indeed been some terrible tragedies played out all over the world this year. But Jesus promised that this would be the case during the “Last Days” which we have been living in since His Resurrection. We cannot be surprised, saddened perhaps, but not surprised.
The letter that dominates this stanza of Psalm 119 is Kaph. It is bent and resembles the palm of a hand and denotes bringing ideas from thought into action, such as lifting your hand to do something. The psalmist, with these words, is expressing his hope in the Lord despite the tragedies and sorrows of his life. Verse 83 is so descriptive. “I have become like a wineskin in the smoke” describes a wineskin which becomes smudged and wrinkled as it hangs over a smoky fire. It is damaged yet not useless. And despite the struggles of his life, he ends this stanza with a word of hope. “In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” Only in the Lord can we find life and that through His steadfast love, even as we remember our troubles.