I wonder if you can identify with the psalmist when he writes that My soul faints with longing for your salvation (119:81)? Or when he writes My eyes fail, looking for your promise (118:82)? Probably you are less likely to identify with his next phrase though, when he says, I am like a wine skin in the smoke! (119:83) Although, maybe you have felt like this but just did not express it in quite this way. The NIV Study Bible suggests it means the following:
“As a wineskin [made from an animal product] hanging in the smoke and heat above a fire becomes smudged and shriveled, so the psalmist bears the marks of his affliction.” (NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Corporation 1985)
It is very obvious that the psalmist is here describing a difficult time in his life and so longs for God to intervene. Read the whole 8 verses below: כ Kaph
81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
Previously the psalmist had spoken of his troubles (vv. 42, 51, 61, 69, 78). Wilcock says: Now “a kaph-word comes to hand opportunely to take the psalm even deeper into this experience of trouble. It is the verb that begins each of the first two verses of the stanza, kala, translated My soul faints and My eyes fail … It sets the tone for the most heartfelt of the beleaguered psalmist’s prayers so far. He is saying, literally, ‘Lord, I’m finished,’ for that is the meaning of kala. He is at the end of his tether. A dried, cracked wine skin, past the end of its useful life – that is what he feels like.” (# 5)
I think many of us have felt like this at some stage of our lives.
I have just finished reading “Amy Carmichael – selfless servant of India.” (by Sam Wellman, Barbour Publishers 1998). – see photo. She went out to India in her early 20s (in the late 19th century) and served the most vulnerable (particularly girls) for over 55 years (without ever returning to the UK) in what became known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. At the age of 65 after a fall into a pit (note v 85 – The arrogant dig pits to trap me), her health began to deteriorate into her early 80s (she died in India in 1951). Always so positive and caring of those she cared for and with her colleagues, at this most difficult time in her life she spoke of her “crushing disappointments” and became despondent at times. But in her despondency God spoke words of comfort and she was reminded of what she had taught others, i.e., “If the day ends in what seems failure, don’t fret. Tell him you’re sorry. Even so don’t be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil.” Like “David [she] found strength [encouraged herself] in the Lord [her] God.” (1 Samuel 30:6b).
The psalmist did similarly and “amid all the turmoil of his distress the psalmist can say truly that he still hoped in the word [v, 81], seeks the promise [v. 82], remembers the decrees [v. 83], and looks for the judgements [v. 84], follows the law [v. 85], trusts the commands [v. 86], keeps the precepts [v. 87] and obeys the statutes [v. 88]. All the eight are here again, but they are eight aspects of a single fact; namely that God has spoken.” (# 5)
And that was enough for him as it was for Amy Carmichael and can be for you and me, no matter what our circumstances.