The Book of Tears
Compiled from The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord and Zuck); Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Psalm 56; http://www.lachrymatory.com/History.htm
Psalm 56:8 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?”
Matthew Henry writes,“When he (David) was wandering he was often weeping, and therefore prays, “Put thou my tears into Thy bottle, in Thy book.” God has a bottle and a book for His people’s tears, both those for their sins and those for their afflictions. God will not forget the sorrows of His people. The tears of God’s persecuted people are bottled up and sealed among God’s treasures; and, when these books come to be opened, they will be found vials of wrath, which will be poured out upon their persecutors, whom God will surely reckon with for all the tears they have forced from His people’s eyes; and they will be breasts of consolation to God’s mourners, whose sackcloth will be turned into garments of praise. God will comfort His people according to the time wherein He has afflicted them, and give to those to reap in joy who sowed in tears. What was sown a tear will come up a pearl.”
Nothing we face is unknown to God. He allows, and He uses, the struggles we face to draw us nearer to Himself and to produce godly character in our lives.
This psalm of David’s is a song of trust to the LORD; even though his enemies waited to destroy him, he trusted confidently in the LORD who knew about his suffering and would protect him.
David was confident because God knew him intimately, even recording his tears. The image of his tears collected in a bottle means that God did not forget his suffering. He could say in full confidence, God is for me.
There was an ancient custom in some Eastern nations of bottling the tears of mourners as a memorial, and placing them in the tomb as a sign of respect. Tear bottles (lachrymatories) have been found in very large numbers upon opening ancient tombs. They were made of pottery, stone, or animal skins—skins such as those that were used for water or for wine, although the very poor sometimes had simple pottery bottles that were not even baked or glazed. They were all made with a slender body, broad at the base with a funnel shaped top.
Around 100 A.D., Romans saw the invention of glass blowing and this new technology, as crude as it was, allowed for thousands and thousands of tear bottles to be made available for even the lower and middle class citizens. The wide base and the narrow elongated neck became a common style.
Did God store Jesus’ tears when He wept as a man? When Jesus shed tears over Jerusalem because the city’s people were unfaithful and unresponsive to His message, are His tears in a bottle and in a ledger? When Jesus was moved to tears over the loss of Lazarus, are His tears in a bottle? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus shed tears like drops of blood. Are those tears in a bottle and in a ledger?
God records your tears in a scroll or a ledger. Like an accountant, He records those tears. Not that He needs to be reminded of them Himself. Rather, it is a way of helping each of us to know that our tears are sacred to Him.
What a word of comfort this should be to each of us! Those tears are sacred and precious. They have significance to us in those thoughts, in those moments of our life. They are also vitally important to God, a God who loves us and cares for us in ways in which our current language cannot even begin to describe.
Rev. 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
In a future time, we believers, according to God’s purpose and His plan, might have an opportunity to empty those tear bottles ourselves. For there will be no need for tear bottles in our eternal life with God.
Sorrow will become a thing of the past. Agony will become a thing of the past. Crying will become a thing of the past. Lachrymatories will not be needed ever again.