My soul languishes for your salvation; I hope in your word.
My eyes fail with watching for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me?
The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me; they flout your law.
All your commandments are enduring; I am persecuted without cause; help me!
They have almost made an end of me on earth; but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your steadfast love spare my life, so that I may keep the decrees of your mouth.
This is the first part of Psalm 119 that feels like a return to some of the more challenging Psalms from earlier in the book. To this point, each section of this Psalm has started on a hopeful note. This one however, feels like the writer has hit a time of dryness, of emptiness. Waiting for God to speak as God did before. The line that really stood out to me was about the wineskin in smoke – led me to take a look at the meaning behind that. A wineskin back in the times of the writer that was left in a smoky tent would very quickly dry up and become useless. The writer feels like he has become that dry wineskin, whether out of his own actions or whether he feels God has done it. Regardless, this is a time where what was once growing and verdant has become dry and empty.
We have a magnolia tree in our backyard that is lovely and we adore the shade that it gives our house and deck. However, like other magnolias, it drops its leaves during the Spring instead of in the Fall. So, there’s a lot of raking of magnolia leaves every day around our house right now. Its a prelude to some of the most beautiful blooms of the Spring, however. But the contrast between the growth everywhere else and the dry leaves falling from the magnolia is striking. Much like how this writer must have felt.
I look forward to a warmer, growing Psalm ahead just as I look forward to the blooms of the tree.