The psalmist said in his prayer to God, ". . . put thou my tears into thy bottle . . . ." (v. 8) What an interesting and strange request! Out of all the bottles mentioned in the Bible, and known to ancient and modern man, there is no bottle like God's bottle for the tears of His people.
Man has pop bottles, juice bottles, ketchup bottles, water bottles, milk bottles, liquor bottles, perfume and cologne bottles, medicine bottles, and bottles of all sorts. But none of these can compare to God's bottle for our tears.
GOD'S BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS
There are some ancient practices and customs that surround tear bottles. From among and within the tombs of ancient civilizations, there have been found phials or bottles which were called lachrymatories. These bottles were probably called lachrymatories because the scientific name for our tear gland is lachrymal. Ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and the Romans, put the tears they shed over the death of their loved ones into these lachrymatories or bottles. They would place them on or within the tomb as a lasting token of their sorrow.
These bottles were made of glass; some of pottery and some of sardonyx stone. However, many of the bottles that were used during David's time, and even Jesus' time, were made of animal skins.
David, in this text, seems to be reflecting on this ancient practice when he speaks of God's Tear Bottle. This is a figurative or symbolic expression. It is a symbolic way of showing His deep concern and care for the griefs, heartaches, sorrows, pains, and persecution of His people. Not only did David ask the Lord to put his tears into His bottle, but he wanted to be assured that they were recorded in his book. God not only keeps the book of life which records the names of all of His people (Rev. 20:12), and the book of their deeds, He also keeps a book of our tears and sufferings. (Psa. 56:8)
Job attests that God keeps a record of concern in His book and deals with man accordingly, ". . . behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high." (Job 16:19) Not only does our Lord know the number of hairs on our head, but he knows the number of tears we shed.
Sometimes man is prone to doubt the existence of God or to doubt that God is concerned when everywhere he turns there are problems, sadness, sickness, sorrow, evil and crises. As the song goes:WHY DOES GOD ALLOW US TO SHED TEARS?
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free;
His eyes are on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.
God created every human with lachrymal glands (tear glands). This includes males as well as females. Our society looks down on crying or shedding tears, especially for men. But some of the mightiest and greatest men who have lived shed tears. Among the mightiest in the world, Alexander, the Great shed tears. Among the men of God: Jeremiah shed tears and Paul shed tears. For three years Paul ". . . ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (Acts 20:31) David, "the man after God's own heart," shed tears. Even Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
I have read where animals and birds do not cry or shed tears like humans. Animals and birds do not have the same sensitivity level nor intelligence of man. Animals and birds have no spirituality or moral principles or values. These creatures do not have mental institutions, psychiatrists or psychologists. Since man has a greater capacity for grief, anxiety, and perplexity, he, therefore, needs a greater capacity for release of grief and burdens.
Tears are the "language of grief." Tears are "agony in solution." Tears are part of the release of grief. God, therefore, made man so he could cry, and He has a bottle for our tears so that we will not allow our feelings of grief, despair and pain to be BOTTLED UP INSIDE OF US!
DAVID HAD GOOD REASON FOR BOTTLED UP FEELINGS
The problems faced with Saul and the Philistines: Saul was jealous and envious of David's military conquests; including the slaying of Goliath. The women chanted, "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands." Therefore, Saul planned to kill David. He chased David to Gath where king Achish of the Philistines ruled. He was afraid for his life, not only with King Saul, who was a child of God, but also with king Achish, who was not a child of God. It is bad enough to have people who are out to get you outside of the church, but when you have this on the inside, too, it is even worse. So Psalm 56 expresses David's fear, particularly in verses 1 & 2, and 5 & 6.
In view of these bottled up feelings, David prays: Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
The primary reason that man has to shed tears is that he may learn to trust in God.
- Psalm 56:3 says, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."
- Psalm 56:4 says, "In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me."
- Psalm 56:11 says, "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me."
- The Hebrew writer says, ". . . I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Heb. 13:5-6)
Because of this trust, man will learn to praise God's word. (Psa. 56:4; Psa 56:10 repeated twice) Because of this trust man will learn to praise God.
Man is decked about with many fears and phobias, but among all of man's fears, his greatest and most severe are caused by his interaction and relationships with MEN! When a man trusts in God, he will not trust in his own ability to handle his enemies; for he knows as God took care of David's enemies and allowed him to escape, God will also that God will take of him.
We shed tears so that we may become more homesick for Heaven. There will always be tears as long as we live on Earth. As long as we live on earth there will be conditions that cause tears: death, sorrow, pain.
In heaven there will be no need for a tear bottle; for God shall wipe away all tears. Revelation 21:4 says, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."