“My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, when wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke, yet do I not forget thy statues.” - Psalms 119:81-83
The phrase “a bottle in the smoke” is oriental in origin. A leather wine bottle or jug made of kid or goat skin was suspended from roof or wall of a dwelling. As most homes had no chimneys, smoke ascending through a hole in roof caused the skin to become dry, parched and to shrink.
David had seen many bottles in the smoke. He now makes a comparison with his own troubled being. “I am become” – by trouble and affliction, “;yet do I not forget thy statues."
The purpose of placing a wine skin where the smoke from the fire could get to it, was not to create an old, cracked skin. The purpose was to mellow and refine the contents of the skin. The smoke and the warmth from the fire causes the character of the wine to ripen and come to maturity.
David recognized that trials and afflictions are part of life.
This is an old truth of God. Life is a testing ground; a rod to chastise.
All great men have been tempered in the smoke of life's furnace.
Examples: Job – Abraham – martyrs
- Smoke in dwelling of the poor, the needs of life are a trial.
- Comforts of life – have smoke. Arab cooks – warms himself – bottle is in smoke.
- Christians sometimes suffer for the good of others.
- Ministry suffers the smoke. Obedience to God not easy road.
Examples: God's eye is on the sparrow – The hairs on your head are numbered – The Lillies of the field.
Trials can be felt.
God expects humanity to endure pain and suffering. No pain reliever – or tranquilizer. Suffering brings patience. A trial we don’t feel isn’t a trial at all.
Trials teach us: - Unsanctified – they can sanctify us. - Unfaithful – we see the nature of it. - Laxity – God teaches us to be diligent.
Example - The eagle in a high nest.
Example - In the flood – God provides an ark of safety and refuge.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. - I Peter 4:12, 13
In the smoke our best help is the word of God. "Yet, will I not forget thy statues."
Like the law of Medes and Persians, it is unbreakable and binding on all. To God and man.
Church at it’s best in smoke. Because we are in the smoke and not the fire, we are not consumed. God’s word is tested in fire.
- Three Hebrews children, emerged from the fiery furnace with no smell of smoke on them.
- Statues written on the heart not on outside.
- Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11
- The bottle had treasure inside.
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them - Romans 2:15
The challenge of our generation: Choose whom you will serve. See Joshua 24:14-21