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A Useless Wineskin

“Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your statutes.” Psalms 119:83

I have spent a lot of time reading David’s cries and prayers and praises to the Lord. The Psalms are brimming over with David’s laments. I think the reason I spend so much time reading the Psalms is because I can so very frequently identify with David.

Jeremiah is referred to as the “Weeping Profit” and his laments were for Judah. He wept over them because they had been taken into exile. He wept because they had been unfaithful to God. He said,

“For these things I weep; My eyes run down with water; Because far from me is a comforter, One who restores my soul. My children are desolate Because the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16

David’s pain and cries were of a different lament. When I look at him, I see a lot of me — one who has fallen into the snare of sin many times — one who has fought tirelessly for Israel — one that other men sought to kill and destroy. David’s burden was heavy. The weight of his sins made him feel heavy and so he took that heaviness and turned to God with it.

After all that David had been through — battle, adultery, committing murder — and there is so much more — we are not even told the whole of David’s heart in the Psalms — though it appears he laid it all out.

David felt like an old, smoke-filled wineskin that was no longer useful for its created purpose. I didn’t know what David meant in verse 83 of the 119th Psalm, “I have become a wineskin in the smoke.” So, I paused from my study to research it and understand it better.

During David’s time they used wineskins to carry their drinks and when they were in battle or sojourning, they would have tents that had fire in the them and the wineskins would be filled with the smoke. This caused the wineskins to be useless, as they would turn black and start to be shriveled from absorbing the smoke in the tent and they could not restore them to new.

After finding what David meant by “wineskin in the smoke,” I then understood his heart a bit more deeply. I feel useless…just like David.

The sins that beset me and satan putting stumbling blocks at every turn, I cry out as David,

“My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your word, While I say, “When will You comfort me?” Psalms 119:81-82

Yet, he quickly added, “I do not forget Your statutes.” Then he declares to the Lord,

“If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.” Psalms 119:92-93

David said, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding.” Psalm 119:103 – 104

David knew and understood that all of God’s commandments are faithful (vs.86) — he understood that if he kept God’s precepts and meditated on them, God could still use him and save him. He would have been a useless smoke-filled wineskin had he turned away from the Lord, but he did not. He continued to meditate on God’s Word — even though he could see the enemy laying snares for him — He told the Lord, “I have forgotten your law!” David said, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end.” Psalm 119:105-112

Through David’s testimony in this Psalm, I have learned that however old or useless I feel, when I stay in His Word — keeping His precepts — meditating on them — God can and will still use me.

The feelings of uselessness are a deceptive lie from the father of lies. If he can convince you or me that we are useless, we will believe it and become useless. That is why it is so important to be centered in God’s Word. His Word is there to balance us. When I am still, there is no doubt He is God. His Word declares the truth and it is available to me to read and understand. David said, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalms 119:11

When you feel like a useless, old, smoke-filled wineskin that has no more value…please stop and meditate on His precepts. There are so many faithful promises to us in God’s Word, but we will never know what they are if we do not pick up His Word and read it.