Life on the Human Side and the Divine
Psalm 56:8
You tell my wanderings: put you my tears into your bottle: are they not in your book?

There is a description of life given in the Bible which has been objected to as depressing and unreal. Life is represented, it is said, as a scene of unending struggle and sorrow; and men are made to walk under a constant shadow. There is some apparent truth in this. But the question to be first asked is, Has the Bible view of life truth in it? If so, is it not better to take it fairly into account? And it may be a further question, Has the Bible no compensation for the saddening view of life which it sometimes presents?

I. THE HUMAN SIDE OF LIFE. It is described under the form of wandering and tears: its activities as "wanderings," its passive side as "tears." Still it may be said, What reason can there be in taking David's life, and making it a copy of all human lives? Has not God given us in the world sunshine as well as cloud, has He not scattered manifold pleasures through it, and should we not thankfully acknowledge this? It is very true, and we must beware of taking any part of the Bible, and pressing it so far as to make it contradict both itself and our experience. Now, there are two things which God in His kindness has sent to the relief of men in the journey of life. There are the natural blessings that are, in a measure, close to all, visiting them often whether they will or not; and there are the helps and hopes which come from a felt relation to Himself. The first may be called the blessings of His hand, the second of His heart. The cloud would be too dark for poor humanity unless God had given it a silver lining, and it is neither good for us, nor grateful to Him, to overlook this. We may begin with the strange, mysterious pleasure God has put into life itself — to live, to breathe, to look on things and have an interest in them, to move, to walk among them — these are roots that go down into the world and hold men on to it by an indescribable attachment. It is one of the kind things in the world that God has given man a liking to life itself. How much there is that is pleasant. Nature, in her varied beauty; the benediction of work, of honest, earnest work, whether it be of hand or head; the kindly affections of the human heart, the love of home and kindred, the solace of friendship, the happiness of doing any good. We seem far enough away now from wandering and tears, and yet they return upon us. It was a saying of the ancients that "for every joy granted to man, there are two sorrows, one before and one behind." Have you not felt this description of life true in its changefulness? How few of us are in the homes of our youth! Or, if near them, how far have we wandered in associations! Changes have taken place around and within which make us almost forget what we were. "Our fathers, where are they?" Or think of life in its constant struggle, perfection never gained, rest never reached. But come —

II. TO THE DIVINE SIDE OF LIFE. What does the view of God secure for the man who looks to Him? Well —

1. A Divine measure. "Thou tellest my wanderings." This means not merely that God speaks of them, but takes the tale and number of them. has said that in making the world "God mathematizes." All is fixed and sure as is the science of numbers. It does not seem so, but it is.

2. This view of God secures a Divine sympathy in life: "Put thou my tears into Thy bottle." However skilful the guide might be, he would not meet our ease unless he had a heart. There are rough defiles and thorny brakes through which the road leads — there is no help for it: these things make it the road; but what concerns us most is the manner of the Guide — that He should take our frailty into account and provide resting-places and refreshment for us as they are needed.

3. This view of God secures a Divine meaning in life — "Are they not in Thy book?" It is natural to understand this of both the wandering and the tears. They are written down, and therefore have an intelligent and consistent meaning. And by and by we shall see this.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?

WEB: You number my wanderings. You put my tears into your bottle. Aren't they in your book?

The Moral Impulse Imparted to Individuals and Communities by the Study of the Bible
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