Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

My journey backwards through the Psalms brought me to Psalm 56 this morning, and the verse that jumped into my brain was verse 8: "“You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book?”

But the reason it jumped out made me laugh. That old Hank Williams song "There's a tear in my beer" popped into my head and simply would not leave!!!! (This is the price to pay for growing up with a grandpa who ran a route of jukeboxes...I knew a LOT of songs with lyrics that little kids don't really "get", at a very young age, and could make grownups howl with laughter by singing them like the record! So let's just say I learned to make people laugh early on...)

"There's a tear in my beer
'cause I'm cryin' for you,dear
you are on my lonely mind.
Into these last nine beers
I have shed a million tears.
You are on my lonely mind
I'm gonna keep drinkin'
until I'm petrified.
And then maybe these tears
will leave my eyes.
There's a tear in my beer
cause I'm crying' for you dear
You are on my lonely mind.

Last night I walked the floor
and the night before
You are on my lonely mind.
It seems my life is through
and I'm so doggone blue
You are on my lonely mind.
I'm gonna keep drinkin'
till I can't move a toe
and then maybe my heart
won't hurt me so.
There's a tear in my beer
cause I'm cryin' for you dear
You are on my lonely mind.

Lord, I've tried and I've tried
But my tears I can't hide
You are on my lonely mind.
All these blues that I've found
Have really got me down
You are on my lonely mind
I'm gonna keep drinkin'
till I can't even think
Cause in the last week
I ain't slept a wink
There's a tear in my beer
cause I'm crying for you dear
You are on my lonely mind."

Ok, so first I had to get the Hank Williams loop out of my head. But then my next thought was, ”Why is God puttin’ MY tear in HIS beer?"

That’s kind of a switch. In the Psalm, it’s not unrequited love that the psalmist is stressed over, it’s a whole host of enemies. He’s afraid of what they can do to him although he does try to reassure himself in v. 4, when he says, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?” (The rest of the Psalm is a variation of “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” I’d say they really ARE out to get him!)

So back to my tears in HIS bottle. I got to Googling and found the answer. It was a Jewish custom, when a husband was going to be gone for a long time (like off to war or off to market), when the wife got on crying jags over missing him, to cry within reach of a small flask and collect the tears in it and stopper it up. Then when he got home, she would give him the flask as a gesture of how much she missed him.

(Ok, the ornery part of me is having fun with this one. Some unfaithful woman hands hubby a big magnum. A smart-ass like me looks all day for the smallest bottle I can find...the possibilities are endless here!)

But these aren’t God’s tears, they are mine. It’s not enough that God has recorded my fear and sorrow and sadness. My tears are precious enough to him that HE wants them in HIS bottle, mixed in with his own. Sharing my sorrow is an act of showing his love. “Here, kid. Put ‘em in MY bottle. I’ll take care of ‘em. See, look! You don’t have to come crawling to me with your own little bottle, I’ll hold your head and let you put ‘em here...and keep them in my heart right with my own.”

There’s an interesting play on words here, too. The translation, when you look at the transliteration of the Hebrew is a play on words. (That’s why going back to the orignal languages of the Bible is fun for me, I like the hidden poetry and numerology, it plays on the puzzle solving part of my brain.) It reads, “You have kept count of my convulsions (nodi); put my tears in your flask (no-deka).”

This also fast forwards in my brain to Luke 7, where the woman kneels down and her tears are the water that bathes Christ’s feet, and her hair is the bath towel.

Whoooooooaaaaaa. That is heavy. Especially when I think about how hard those tears are for me to give up. Up until now, I’ve always thought of those times I have let loose with a shirt-collar soaking, face wetting, tears falling into my ears if I’m lying down, chest-wracking sobfest as an event where the tears are dissipated into nowhere, my grief falling into nothingness. It is heavy to realize that all along, God has collected them in his bottle and held the bottle to his chest as a gesture of “We have missed each other THIS much.” It’s an image of grace and reconciliation that...well...can certainly put a tear in MY figurative beer!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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