For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget your statutes.
The wine-bottles of the East were skins. Rosenmüller tells us that it was a custom of the ancients to hang skins of wine in the smoke of a fire, for very much the same reason that we stand a bottle of claret on the hearth, in order to mellow the wine by a gradual and moderate warmth, and to bring it to an earlier perfection. And in that custom the psalmist finds an illustration of the meaning, and of the mercy, of the afflictions to which he has been exposed. They have been sent to act on him like the warm smoke on the wine - to refine, mellow, and ripen his character; and because, under them all, he has refused to part with his faith in God and duty; because he has been true to God and God's statutes, they have had their intended and proper effect upon him (S. Cox). This explanation gives a fresh suggestion to the text, but it may be doubted whether the mood of the psalmist is fairly represented by it. The older view seems more in harmony with the general tone of the stanza. Though, under the severe pressures of trial and affliction, the good man shrinks and wastes and blackens like a wine-skin hung in the smoke of the chimney, he still remembers the Divine statutes, and holds fast his faith in God and duty. What seems to be in mind is a long waiting-time, which was also a time of suffering and strain. The watching for God was prolonged; no response seemed to come; much had to be borne while he was waiting; he seemed to get dry, shriveled, and blackened, like the wine-skin in the chimney that had waited so long (and seemed to get tired of waiting, even as he did) for the moisture and refreshing of being used, and filled again with wine. But the question of supreme importance was this - What was he doing during this hard waiting-time? He has the joy of this confident assurance - he was holding fast his integrity; he was keeping on his obedience and trust; he was persistently ordering his life according to the Divine statutes.
I. WAITING-TIMES ARE A PART OF THE DIVINE AFFLICTIVE DISPENSATIONS. It sometimes seems as if God would do more for a man by making him wait than by making him suffer.
II. WAITING-TIMES HAVE A PECULIAR INFLUENCE ON A MAN'S SPIRIT. It may be represented by the effect of smoke on an empty wine-skin.
III. WAITING-TIMES SHOULD THROW US UPON THE COMFORTING AND STRENGTHENING OF THE DIVINE WORD. Everything for us depends on the cherished moods of our waiting-times. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.