Tears to Drink: the Mission of Troublous Experiences
Psalm 80:5
You feed them with the bread of tears; and give them tears to drink in great measure.

Givest them tears to drink in great measure. Reference must be to the dreariness and hopelessness and misery of the captives in Babylon. There was no other time in the national history when the expression was so suitable. The misery is forcibly pictured in Psalm 137. When the eyes of the exiles were full of tears, it was bitterness indeed to be asked to sing "one of the songs of Zion." "How could they sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" Eastern people are very expressive in their grief, and shed tears very freely; but the expression here is poetical. Men are thought of as having so much trouble in their lot that they seemed to feed upon their tears. Stanley says, "The psalms of the time answer to the groans of Ezekiel, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as deep to deep. No human sorrow has ever found so loud, so plaintive, so long protracted a wail. We see them in the places of their final settlement, often lodged in dungeons with insufficient food, loaded with contumely, their faces spat upon, their hair torn off, their backs torn with the lash. There were the insults of the oppressors, there were the bitter tears which dropped into their daily beverage, the ashes which mingled with their daily bread." This subject may be profitably treated by recalling the fact that our Lord Jesus is recorded to have wept tears on three occasions, and these occasions may be regarded as representative. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus; Jesus wept in sight of unreceptive Jerusalem; Jesus wept in the garden of Gethsemane.

I. THE MISSION OF THE TEARS OF BEREAVEMENT. Tears seem specially sacred to such times. They are, indeed, nature's relief. We feel anxious when our bereaved friends cannot weep. Tears are brain relief as well as emotional relief; but they are the sign of the broken heart, the unavailing regret, the love that has become only a memory. But see the mission of such tears.

1. They call out sympathy.

2. They satisfy our feeling that we ought to feel.

3. They honour our departed friends.

4. They are silent prayers which God heeds.

II. THE MISSION OF THE TEARS OF CONCERN FOR OTHERS. Illustrated by our Lord's concern for Jerusalem. Observe that tears are not becoming while there is any hope of their yielding to gracious influence. The tears come when those we would bless seem determined to "resist the Holy Ghost." As long as Jesus could hope to save Jerusalem, there was no room for tears. They came when Jesus was compelled to say, "Now they are hid from thine eyes. Your house is left unto you desolate." We weep when we are forced, in hopelessness, to let alone those whom, from our very hearts, we desire to bless.

III. THE MISSION OF THE TEARS FORCED OUT BY MENTAL STRAIN. Illustrated by our Lord's tears in Gethsemane, Times when we want to understand, and cannot; when we want to believe, and cannot; when we want to obey, and cannot; when we want to see our way, and cannot; when we want to submit, and cannot. Such was the condition of the exiles. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.

WEB: You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in large measure.

The Refusal of Prayer
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