A Wineskin in the Smoke

“Let my heart be blameless in Your Statutes, that I may not be ashamed. My soul [is] being consumed for Your salvation; I hope in Your Word. My eyes faint for Your Word, saying, When will You comfort me? For I am like a wineskin in the smoke; I do not forget Your Statutes” (Psalm 119:80-83).

NOTE:  I am not endorsing or promoting the commentator Adam Clarke as a true Christian when I quote from him.  He writes on Psalm 119:83.

“In the eastern countries their bottles are made of skins; one of these hung in the smoke must soon be parched and shrivelled up. This represents the exhausted state of his body and mind by long bodily affliction and mental distress” (Adam Clarke).

The next verse says:

“As what [are] the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on my persecutors?” (Psalm 119:84)

The context is about judgment on persecutors from without.  But I also think of the persistent persecutors from within — not from this Psalm 119 passage, but from passages such as Romans 7:24.  One fellow preaches:

“Romans 7: (24) O wretched man [that] I [am]! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

In light of all that Paul has just said in this paragraph, he concludes what we as believers all conclude about ourselves – ‘O wretched man that I am!’ We are sinners. The Greek word for ‘wretched’ means ‘miserable’ or ‘afflicted.’ We are afflicted by our sins. We are constantly being harassed and plagued by our sins and are thus distressed and grieved and vexed by our sins. Right when we want to do good, evil is right there, to make us do what we don’t want to do. It’s like a constant evil companion. And as long as we’re in this mortal body, we will be afflicted by the sin that is in us, and we will fall, and our thoughts won’t be pure, and we’ll do evil things we’ll regret, and we will never be free from this slavery to the influence of sin. We yearn to be set free from this principle so we can love and serve God without sin. Who will set us free from the body of this death?

Verse 25:

Romans 7: (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I myself with the mind truly serve [the] Law of God, and [with] the flesh [the] law of sin.

God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, will set us free from the body of this death. We have a sure and certain hope that when God brings us to heaven, we will be set free from the body of this death, and we will be free to worship and praise Him unencumbered by any sinful thought or action. 1 John 3:2 says that when we get to heaven, we shall be like Jesus Christ. Revelation 21:4 says that when we get to heaven, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will not be death or mourning or outcry or pain. We will not be sorrowing over our indwelling sin, because our sin will be completely gone. What a wonderful day that will be!

Paul ends the paragraph reiterating that his mind, infused with the powerful principle of holiness, serves God’s Law, delighting in it, as verse 22 says, desiring to do good and do right, as verses 19 and 21 say, and agreeing with God’s Law that it is good, as verse 16 says. And he reiterates that his flesh, that powerful principle of indwelling sin, serves the law of sin, making him do what he does not want to do, as verses 15 and 19 say, making him not do the good he wants to do, as verse 19 says, and warring against the law of his mind, as verse 23 says. This war between the mind and the flesh, the spirit and the flesh, the principle of holiness and the principle of sin, is a constant, ongoing, never-ending battle for believers while they live here on earth. It is the cause of much sorrow and much pain and anguish. But God has a purpose in all this. It is to keep us humbly looking to Him, hoping in Him, and trusting in the finished work of Christ for our salvation and assurance. It makes us realize that this is not our home and makes us long to be with Him in heaven. It makes us say with the Psalmist in Psalm 130, ‘If You will keep iniquities, O Jehovah, O Lord, who shall stand? But forgiveness is with You that You may be feared.’

My brothers and sisters in Christ, fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith. Keep fighting against indwelling sin with all your might. Be diligent to obey God’s Law. Repent of your sin and keep pressing on. And one day we will be like Christ, for we will see Him as He is. Amen” (a fellow’s sermon on Romans 7:14-15).

Amen.

“Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness. You gave room to me in distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1).

“Jehovah also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of distress” (Psalm 9:9).

“In my distress I called on Jehovah and I cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry went before Him, into His ears” (Psalm 18:6).

“May Jehovah answer you in the day of distress; the name of the God of Jacob set you on high” (Psalm 20:1).

“This poor man cried; and Jehovah heard, and saved him out of all his distress” (Psalm 34:6).

“But the salvation of the righteous [is] from Jehovah; [He is] their strength in the time of distress” (Psalm 37:39).

“And call on Me in the day of distress, and I will save you; and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).

“Give help to us from distress; for the deliverance of man [is] vain” (Psalm 108:12).

“Distress and anguish have found me; Your Commands [are] my delight” (Psalm 119:143).

“If I walk in the midst of distress, You give me life; You send out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand delivers me” (Psalm 138:7).

“I pour out my musing before Him; I declare my distress before Him” (Psalm 142:2).

“O Jehovah, because of Your name, enliven me; in Your righteousness, bring my soul out of distress” (Psalm 143:11).

“My eye is dim because of grief” (Psalm 6:7).

“Be gracious to me, O Jehovah, for I am in trouble; my eye has wasted away with grief, my soul and my belly” (Psalm 31:9).

“For my life is ending with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones have wasted away” (Psalm 31:10).

“My soul drops [with] grief; Lift me up according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:28).

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