Agony of Affliction

“Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your decrees.” -Psalm 119:83

It was custom to place wine in leather bottles for preservation. If the bottle was hung around smoke it would char and shrivel up, becoming useless as a container for new wine. David uses this imagery to communicate how he feels in his affliction: like a thrown away broken vessel, no longer of any use once the smoke has wrinkled the wineskin. King David is wasted with age, sickness and sorrow.  Yet still he clings to the Lord by declaring he will not forget God’s Word. This supernatural perseverance reminds me of Paul’s resolve in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

This is where the believer lands. We remember and hope in our Deliverer, trusting our trials will conform us to Christ. His life is at work in the believer and He will not finish until this transformation is complete (Philippians 1:6). We are to die daily to self so Jesus becomes more real and lovely to us. How we respond in our trials also serves as a witness before a spiritually dead world. Dead to our old nature, alive in Christ through the agony of affliction.

Grace upon grace,

April

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