Tears in a Bottle
Perhaps one of the most strangest requests recorded in the Bible, at least to our western minds, is for God to put our tears in His bottle. In the King James version, Psalm 56:8 reads: Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Think about it--our tears in God's bottle. What does this mean? I'm sure that all of God's children, from the beginning of time when sin first entered into the world till the present time, have cried oceans and rivers of tears of grief and sorrow as well as tears of happiness and joy. Is Heaven, then, full of bottled tears?
It is a known fact that in Bible lands and other middle eastern countries there was a tradition that when someone died, tears of those present were collected and placed in a bottle. This bottle was considered sacred for it represented all the sorrow of the family and was buried with the deceased. Many of these bottles have been found in ancient tombs. In ancient Rome, mourners filled small glass vials or cups with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of love and respect. Sometimes people were even paid to cry into cups, as they walked along the mourning procession. Those crying the loudest and producing the most tears received the most compensation. The more anguish and tears produced, the more important and valued the deceased person was perceived to be. In some war stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were loved and missed.
So, the psalmist David was not a stranger to the 'Tears in a Bottle' phraseology. I think, that for the most part it is for our benefit that he uses such a strange expression--yet at the same time beautiful, endearing, and even poetic--to let us know that God cares and takes notice of us not only when we cry tears of sorrow, pain, anguish, repentance, confession, and joy but in everything we do and say. God notices all our wanderings in this short earthly pilgrimage of ours. He loves us so much and is ever touched by our burdens, our anguish of heart, and feelings of infirmities.
The New International Bible renders Psalm 56:8 more in keeping with modern-day thought and expression. Here's what it says: Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll--are they not in your record? This document describes the things that are written in the Book of Remembrance, God's exhaustive database, so that we can prepare now to have a part in it.
"A book of remembrance" is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of "them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." Mal. 3:16. Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in Heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says, "Remember me, O my God, . . . and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God." Neh. 13:14. In the book of God's remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ's sake, is recorded. --The Great Controversy, Page 481.
The relation between God and each soul is distinct. His care to you is as minute as though there were no other soul to claim his attention. The psalmist says, "Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. There is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me," "Thou tellest my wanderings; put Thou my tears in thy bottle; are they not in thy book?" In the words of the psalmist is expressed the intimacy and tenderness with which God cares for his creatures. "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." --The Bible Echo, February 1, 1893.
There is an individual work for each one to do. The relation between God and each person is unique and special. The text in Psalm 56:8 is a representation of the unsearchable greatness of God. We can not help but be impressed with his intimate knowledge of all our ways and with the great tenderness expressed for us--the objects of his creation.
Oh, how different are the standards by which God and men measure character. God sees many temptations resisted of which the world and even near friends never know--temptations in the home, in the heart. He sees the soul's humility in view of its own weakness; the sincere repentance over even a thought that is evil. He sees the wholehearted devotion to His service. He has noted the hours of hard battle with self--battle that won the victory. All this God and angels know. A book of remembrance is written before Him for them that fear the Lord and that think upon His name. --Christ's Object Lessons, Pages 403-404.
In every religious movement there are some who, while they cannot deny that the cause is God's, still hold themselves aloof, refusing to make any effort to help. It were well for such ones to remember the record kept on high, --that book in which there are no omissions, no mistakes, and out of which they will be judged. There every neglected opportunity to do service for God is recorded; and there, too, every deed of faith and love is held in everlasting remembrance. --Prophets and Kings, page 639.
God reads the covetous thought in every heart that purposes to withhold from Him. Those who are selfishly neglectful in paying their tithes, and bringing their gifts and offerings to the treasury, God sees. The Lord Jehovah understands it all. As a book of remembrance is written before Him of them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name, so there is a record kept of all who are appropriating to themselves the gifts which God entrusted to them to use for the salvation of souls.--Counsel on Stewardship, Page 88, 87.
A book of remembrance is written of those who do not forsake the assembling of themselves together, but speak often one to another. The remnant are to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Some expect to overcome alone by the blood of the Lamb, without making any special effort of their own. I saw that God has been merciful in giving us the power of speech. He has given us a tongue, and we are accountable to Him for its use. We should glorify God with our mouth, speaking in honor of the truth and of His unbounded mercy, and overcome by the word of our testimony through the blood of the Lamb.
As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God's remembrance. . .--The Faith I Live By, Page 212.
God declares that even a mother may forget her child, "yet will I not forget thee. . . I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands. . ." God thinks of His children with the tenderest solicitude and keeps a book of remembrance before Him, that He may never forget the children of His care.
Every human tie may perish,
Friend to friend unfaithful prove,
Mothers cease their own to cherish,
Heaven and earth at last remove;
But no changes
Can attend Jehovah's love.
--The Faith I Live By, Page 280
The Majesty of heaven identifies His interests with those of the believers, however humble may be their circumstances. And whenever they are privileged to meet together, it is appropriate that they speak often one to another, giving utterance to the gratitude and love that is a result of thinking upon the name of the Lord. Thus shall God be glorified as He hearkens and hears, and the testimony meeting will be considered the most precious of all meetings; for the words spoken are recorded in the book of remembrance. . . --God's Amazing Grace, Page 184.
If Christians would associate together, speaking to each other of the love of God, and of the precious truths of redemption, their own hearts would be refreshed, and they would refresh one another. We may be daily learning more of our heavenly Father, gaining a fresh experience of His grace; then we shall desire to speak of His love; and as we do this, our own hearts will be warmed and encouraged. If we thought and talked more of Jesus and less of self, we should have far more of His presence. --In Heavenly Places, Page 92.
The words to which God and the angels listen with delight are words of appreciation for the great gift that has been made to the world in the only-begotten Son of God. Every word of praise for the blessing of the light of truth . . . is written in the heavenly records. Every word that acknowledges the merciful kindness of our heavenly Father in giving Jesus to take away our sins, and to impute to us His righteousness, is recorded in the book of His remembrance. Testimonies of this kind "shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9. --Our High Calling, Page 168.
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord, of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Isaiah not only beheld the glory of Christ, but he also spake of Him. While David mused, the fire burned; then spake he with his tongue. While he mused upon the wondrous love of God, he could not but speak of that which he saw and felt. Who can by faith behold the wonderful plan of redemption, the glory of the only begotten Son of God, and not speak of it? Who can contemplate that unfathomable love expressed in dying upon the cross of Calvary, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, and have no words to utter to extol the Saviour's glory? Who can become partakers of His love, and not admire and reverence and adore? --The Present Truth, January 12, 1893.
"They that feared the Lord," writes the prophet Malachi, "spake often one to another; and the Lord harkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." Were the words spoken, words of complaint, of faultfinding, of self-sympathy?--No; in contrast to those who speak against God, those who fear him speak words of courage, of thankfulness, and of praise. They do not cover the altar of God with tears and lamentations; they come with faces lighted up with the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and praise God for his goodness.
Such words make all heaven rejoice. Those who utter them may be poor in worldly possessions, but by faithfully giving to God the portion he claims, they acknowledge their indebtedness to him. Self-serving does not make up the chapters of their life-history. In love and gratitude, with songs of joy upon their lips, they bring their offerings to God, saying as did David, Of thine own we freely give thee. . . Let there be silence while you think whether you are among the number that fear the Lord, and that think upon his name. --The Review and Herald, January 5, 1897.
The Saviour devoted more time and labor to healing the afflicted of their maladies than to preaching. His last injunction to his apostles, his representatives on the earth, was that they lay hands on the sick that they might recover. When the Master shall come again, he will commend those who have visited the sick and relieved the necessities of the afflicted. "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat," he will say to those at his right hand. "I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. . . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Not only will God's people be involved in acts of mercy and their good deeds immortalized in Heaven, but they will be misrepresented in character and persecuted for righteousness' sake here below. Matthew 5:10-12 read: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The persecution that God's people will face at the end of time would be the worse ever to be experienced in the history of mankind. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. The oceans of tears of sorrow and anguish of God's people from the beginning of time to the end of time are 'stored' in God's bottle and recorded in His Book for an everlasting remembrance.
For Those Tears I Died
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away
And just like you promised, you came there to stay
I just had to pray.
And Jesus said, Come to the water, stand by my side,
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.
Your goodness so great I can't understand,
And, dear Lord, I know that this was all planned.
Saviour, you're here now, and always will be.
Your love is so great and always so free, Jesus and me.
Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul.
I know, without God I'd never be whole,
Saviour, you opened up all the right doors,
And I thank you and praise you from earth's humble shores.
Take me, I'm yours.
--Words & Music by: (c) Marsha Stevens
For Those Tears I Died Midi