“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalms 56:8 NLT
Why would the Psalmist write that God collects all his tears in a bottle? To modern readers that will seem a bit strange, but in David’s day, as well as in other periods in history, there was apparently a custom of collecting tears, there being a variety of containers available for such a use. They were called lachrymatories and perhaps were a part of funeral arrangements.
But what did David mean when he wrote this verse? And is it relevant today? I think it first of all points to an intimate relationship between David and his Heavenly Father. At every opportunity he came into God’s presence, sharing what was happening at the time. The good times and well as the bad times. The times of laughter and joy, as well as the times of sorrow and grief. In this verse David was sharing a time of sadness, noting that God was keeping track of all the times a similar situation had occurred in his life. When this Psalm was written, David had been captured by the Philistines – the story can be found in 1 Samuel 21. He realised that he wasn’t in a safe place and pretended to be insane to escape. But in the midst of all this there was one place in which he couldn’t be touched – God’s presence.
So do we think that God keeps a register of all our sorrows? I think that depends on our relationship with Him. David had a full-on relationship with God – nothing held back, good or bad. But what about us? Is our relationship to God limited to a weekly recital of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a couple of hymns? Or do we too, like David, chatter away to our loving Heavenly Father at every opportunity, sharing our life with Him? Perhaps David spent more times in Heavenly places than on Planet Earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is a short verse, and it encourages us to, “Pray without ceasing“. I don’t believe it means we supply God with a continual shopping list of prayers. Rather, we must, like David, develop a conversational and intimate relationship – call it prayer if you like – with our Heavenly Father. Sharing all that is happening to us in our sinful world and receiving the encouragement and advice we need for living. And like David we too will, “….walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” Psalms 56:13 NLT.