You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
This is not the life she dreamed for herself. She imagined life with a loving husband by her side. A man who knew her intimately and wanted to share life with her. A husband who would provide for her.
Instead, she lay in bed night after night, never knowing love or compassion. The men who lay with her were nameless. And faceless. She focused on forgetting their looks, rather than remembering. After all, who wants to remember someone who doesn’t know your name? Oh, they called her things. But never her name. She was know as “sinful” and “immoral.” The men in her life paid her only for what they could get from her. There was no love. No intimacy. No sharing. No life.
Slow tears dripped from the corners of her eyes. They would have dropped to the floor, gone forever, if not for her tear bottle.
The practice of collecting tears in a bottle has been around since about 1,000 BC. In times of grief and sorrow, ancient tear bottles were to catch and preserve tears of the owner. Archaeologists in Israel have discovered excavated tear bottles.
Scripture mentions tears used to wash the feet of Jesus:
And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume. Luke 7:37-38 CSB1
Can a person cry enough tears to wash someone’s feet? Maybe. If there was a way to collect all the tears.
Perhaps the sinful woman carried her tear bottle as well as the alabaster jar of costly perfume. She must have cried a river of tears over her sin and the choices she made. Some scholars believe her tears came from the bottle she carried.
In ancient times, Jewish females were given an alabaster jar of perfume by their parents. Tradition has it that each year a bit more of the costly perfumed oil was added to the jar. The expensive perfume would have served as a dowry or inheritance.
Carrying her tears and perfumed oil, the sinful woman went to hear Jesus speak. She wept in repentance at His words. She poured out her tears in the bottle as an act emptying herself of her old life and starting over. Jesus fulfilled her greatest need. His forgiveness washed her clean. In thankfulness, she anointed His feet with perfumed oil from the alabaster jar. Her new life begins with the fragrant aroma of faith in Jesus to forgive her of her sins.
-What can we “pour out” of our lives today, to live a life pleasing to Jesus?
-How can our lives be a fragrant aroma of Christ to others?
Father God, As we empty ourselves of our old way of life, I pray that our new life in Christ will be a sweet aroma to You. In Jesus name and by His power in us, Amen.
1 Our tour guide in Israel connected tear bottles with this scripture