Pondering Psalm 119:81-128
v.83 “Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”
Huh? What does he mean by that? The Psalmist uses the term “wineskin in the smoke” as an illustration of how he felt. Drinking containers in ancient times were usually made of skin. These skin bottles were often used out in the wilderness to hang in a tent when the use of fire was needed inside and there was no chimney. The skin would absorb the smoke for a long period of time. The skin would become hard and shriveled because of the smoke and afterwards it turned black and was useless. The psalmist is saying that he felt useless – dried out, shrivelled, and soot-covered spiritually but he wasn’t giving up. And he would not forget God’s Word no matter how he felt.
The lesson for us is this: No matter what life brings and no matter how distant from God you might feel, hold on to God’s Word. Don’t let go. Cling to it as you would a life preserver in the open sea when you have had to abandon ship.
v 89 “Your word , O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
This verse reminds me of my call to ministry. In college I heard a speaker say that there were only two things that were eternal in this world – God’s Word and people. And that we should spend our lives investing in these two eternal things. I knew after hearing that that I would be a Biomedical engineer, which is what I majored in in college. I knew that I would pursue a life of vocational ministry which would enable me to maximize my time as I invested in eternal things.
v 101, 104, 127-128 “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word./ I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path./ because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.”
So there seems to be two things going on here. Because the Psalmist loves the Word of God, he hates evil and does whatever it takes to steer clear of it. And because his desire is to obey God’s Word, he avoids sin so that it does not short circuit his relationship with God. Do you see the difference? On the one hand, the Word of God keeps him from sinning. And on the other hand, he know that sinning would keep him from the Word of God so he is very intentional about staying away from it.
So here is the question to me… and to you: Do I love God and His Word more than I love sin? We don’t have to look very far to find the answer to that question.
I’m just sayin’!
Next Week: Psalm 119: 129-176