Where does this idea that God might collect our tears in a bottle come from? And why does it inspire so many paintings and poems? If you’ve never heard this phrase before, or have heard it but don’t understand the relevance, then read on. We will explore where it is found in Scripture, the context of the verse, and why it brings comfort to so many people.
Tears In A Bottle
This unusual phrase, that God might collect our tears in a bottle is part of a heart felt cry for help. It was written by David, the man who would be Israel’s greatest king. At the time he wrote these words, though, he was a fugitive and on the run.
David’s life was in danger, he had fled to what he thought might be a safe place. But, instead, he found himself surrounded by those who were not his allies and in fact were his enemies. David was in a desperate life-threatening situation, and he called out to God in prayer.
God Collects Our Tears Verse
It is in the psalms that we find this concept that God collects our tears. It is part of a psalm that is regarded as a prayer for help when the writer was under attack from his enemies. This psalm is balanced by an urgent appeal and at the same time makes a confident declaration of faith. It expresses beautifully trust in God through a time of real danger and unsettling fear.
In psalm 56 David pours out his heart to God, he brings his problems and his feelings to the LORD. When he is afraid, he declares that he puts his trust in God. David reminds himself that he knows that God is his safe place. And then in verse eight David makes a specific request and creates this unusual image:
“You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” NKJVPsalm 56:8 NKJV
David knows that God is for him, even when everything seems to be against him. God takes note of our wandering, and our sorrows. He watches over us as a loving Heavenly Father. God sees our tears…
From here on the tone of the psalm changes. David is now confident that God will deliver him and bring him through this difficult time…
God Collects Our Tears in a Bottle – Scripture Revelation
This psalm expresses beautifully personal relationship with God. This is not praying to God as someone who is remote, but someone who is known to be close. David has confidence in God’s love and faithfulness – even in this dire and desperate situation.
David asks a rhetorical question, that God would note in His heavenly record all of his wandering, his sorrow, and his troubles.
As a call for action. For God not only sees, but He takes note, and if He takes note, David is reassured that God will respond to his cry for help!
I can relate to that thought, I’m a great note-taker. I have a notebook and a diary, and I carry lists around in my purse. Why? To remind me of those things that I need, or want, to do. They are my prompt, so I won’t forget what is important.
Now I know God won’t forget, but there is comfort here in this image that God collects our tears in a bottle. It tells us that God takes note and keeps a record of our tears. Our struggles are recognized by Him, and our pain and suffering do not go unnoticed. God sees where we are and what we are going through – and He is moved with compassion to act on our behalf.
You might also like to read: El Roi – The God Who Sees Me
Prayer Changes Us!
David created this image in his mind of God taking note of all his problems and collecting his tears. He has expressed openly, and honestly the fears that are surrounding him. But as he speaks these words, and hands it all to God, there is a shift and a change in his feelings. This becomes visible in his writing.
It is the same for each one of us, there is release in laying out our worries and concerns before God. We can pour out our thoughts and feelings, from our heart, and give all our troubles to Him.
There may be times in life when we will encounter difficult experiences and feel overwhelmed. We may find ourselves in turmoil and in a place, we never expected to be. But when we recognise our own weakness there is only one way forward, to trust and depend on God.
The psalm closes with a powerful declaration of faith. A fresh confession of praise and worship, to trust in God, even in the face of such unsettling fear.
“In God (I will praise HIS word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid…”Psalm 56:10-11 NKJV
Put MY Tears In Your Bottle
We can make this phrase personal – put my tears in your bottle. Because this image is a reminder of God’s love for us and can bring a shift in our perspective. There is nothing too difficult for God. This verse of Scripture may become our prompt to pray and take us from fear to hope!
David finishes the psalm with thanksgiving, as if his prayer has already been answered. He prophesies that he will thank God for deliverance. God will rescue him, and he will continue to walk through life in the light of God’s love.
“For you have delivered my soul from death. Have you not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
PSALM 56:13 NKJV
We too can walk through dark and difficult times with this assurance. God is our safe place the One who will never leave us. There is comfort and encouragement in the knowledge that God sees, hears, and cares. He knows how we feel.
Trust in God grows when we depend on Him. In those times when we can’t see the way forward, and don’t know how things will work out, God is with us. Sometimes faith is simply carrying on and taking the next step, with our hand secure in His.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom