The psalmist has written of his times of trouble when he was afflicted, people laughed at him, treated him wrongfully and told lies about him. Here in the 11th stanza, we find the him in a time of desperation, waiting for God to help him.
81 I desperately long for your deliverance.
I find hope in your word.
82 My eyes grow tired as I wait for your promise to be fulfilled.
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I am like a wineskin dried up in smoke.
I do not forget your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure this?
When will you judge those who pursue me?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
which violates your law.
86 All your commands are reliable.
I am pursued without reason. Help me!
87 They have almost destroyed me here on the earth,
but I do not reject your precepts.
88 Revive me with your lovingkindness,
that I might keep the law you have revealed.
In this section of the psalm we read about the psalmist’s desperation, the persecutors’ evil intent, and God’s faithfulness.
- The psalmist is longing for deliverance (119:81), his eyes are tired from searching the word as he waits for God (119:82), he feels like a wineskin that is dried and shriveled from smoke (119:83), he has been persecuted wrongfully (119:86), he has been almost destroyed, and he is waiting for God to revive him (119:88)
- The persecutors are against the psalmist. As if he were a wild animal, they have dug pits to trap him, in violation of God’s law (119:85), they have persecuted him wrongfully (without reason, 119:86), and they have almost destroyed him (119:87).
- God is the one who will execute judgment (119:84), all his commandments are faithful (reliable, 119:86), and His lovingkindness is what will revive and enable the psalmist to remain faithful (119:88).
Perhaps you empathize with the psalmist. Do you find yourself in a desperate situation today, longing for deliverance, and crying out to God asking, “When will you comfort me?” (119:82). Do you feel like a wineskin dried up in smoke (119:83)? In the psalmist’s day, this phrase was a word-picture that would have been clear to all. A wineskin was a container made of animal skin, and a new one was soft and pliable. But the Bedouins and desert dwellers lived in tents and hung the wineskins inside where a fire was kept burning day and night. It didn’t take long for the smoke to render it shriveled, dry, and useless. Then it was thrown out....destroyed. Do you ever feel like that? Old, shriveled, dried up, useless, almost destroyed? When you do, here is a very important thing to remember -- God is the answer! This passage of Psalm 119 proclaims that God is the answer to the things of life! When things are the worst, we need to be like the psalmist and hope in God’s Word (119:81), never forget His statutes (119:83), never reject His precepts (119:87), and faithfully keep His law (119:88). Even when we’re crying out to God, “How long must your servant endure this” (119:84), we need to know and remember the promise of God. We need to know His answer is coming. After all, we are Christians, we have God’s Word, we have hope! And even if we feel “almost destroyed” (119:87) we need to remember that God’s promise is sure and we will never be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).
One more thing. The apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you (4:12). Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We shouldn’t be surprised or think it unusual when we suffer as believers. The writer to the Hebrews told us that Jesus, although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Even more, He understands and sympathizes with us (Hebrews 4:15). And beyond that, He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! The letter of James calls us to count it all joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2) and we can do that because we know, along with the psalmist, the Lord will revive us with His lovingkindness (119:88). After all, in Christ He gave us the ultimate expression of His love….He sent His Son to die for us.
So hang on when times are tough. God will answer. He is the answer. And His lovingkindness endures forever (Psalm 136:1). If you didn't need this reminder today, who do you know who does? Who can you share it with?
Love in Him,