My Soul Faints

"My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in your word. My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, 'When will You comfort me?'" (Psalm 119:81. 82)

The nation of Israel waits for salvation. The wait has not been easy and over time, the soul of the nation faints. The promised Kingdom and salvation seem delayed, prolonged, distant. Meanwhile, Gentile hatred and hostility causes great suffering and distress for Israel, making their need for deliverance all the more urgent. Understandably, Israel longs to be comforted with the joy of His salvation. Indeed, all Creation awaits the day of redemption.

Since the Psalmist wrote these words, the people of Israel have endured the Babylonian captivity. They have avoided the annihilation decree of the Medo-Persian reign (Purim). They have outlived the Greek oppression of forbidding Torah observance. They have resisted the might of Rome. They have survived the Roman Catholic inquisitions, the Christian Crusades, the years of being exiled from countries such as England and Spain, the decades of pogroms in Europe. And, in recent times, they have endured the refusal by the nations to make a homeland and the subsequent Holocaust, which resulted in six million people old and young being murdered simply because they were Jewish.

The words of the Psalmist have become the reality for Israel: "My soul faints for Your salvation . . . "

The people of Israel are waiting in every place. From the isolated frozen places in Eastern Russia, to the jubilant streets of Jerusalem, the descendants of the Ancient Covenant People are waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. To those who watch, the signs are there.

Observe the picture, "My soul faints . . . ". Visually, externally, this is a limp and lifeless form. All movement is contained within, there is none at the exterior to indicate life.

The picture of this lifeless form is complimented by the statement, "My eyes fail from searching Your Word."

Consider the eyes. They blink, they wink, they open wide and they shut close, all without a sound. A person may clap their hands, stomp their feet, shout out loud. In fact, the movement of different body parts make various sounds, all of which indicate life. It is not so with the eye. The eye is silent in its movement. You may blink as fast as you like, and as hard as possible but still the eye makes no sound. It is this aspect of silence which makes the eye compliment the picture of lifelessness.

Undoubtedly, when the nations observe Israel they do not detect any sounds or movement that would indicate anything other than a lifeless form.

Observe a picture of contrast, in the days of the High Priest Eli, when the Children of Israel had gathered together to fight against the Philistines. The battle was joined and Israel lost four thousand men. (1 Samuel 4:2-3) When they returned to camp it was concluded that the reason for the defeat was that the ark of the covenant was not among them.

When Joshua and the Children of Israel had defeated the inhabitants of the land initially they had the ark of the covenant of the Lord with them. Thus, they reasoned, their defeat was due to the ark being absent. So the ark was brought up immediately from Shiloh to the battlefield at Aphek.

"And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook." (1 Samuel 4:5) All Israel shouted and rejoiced because their King was among them. The Philistines heard the sound and felt the earth shake, and immediately wanted to flee.

Israel shouting and the earth quaking, in Eli's day, is in complete contrast to Israel's current image. Today, the people of Israel do not have the ark of the covenant of the LORD. There is no earth-shaking shout by ALL Israel. To the contrary, surrounded by the nations, the soul of Israel faints.

The verse continues, "My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, 'When will You comfort me?'" Note that speech is given to the eyes, yet, the eyes have no mouth or vocal cords with which to speak. So then, the communication is also in silence. This points to the special relationship between God and His People. No one hears the communication, it's only between the silent eyes, Israel, and the One in whom his soul waits, His Redeemer-King. They communicate on a level not heard by the nations.

As the Chosen Nation, Israel has delivered to the world community the knowledge of the One True God. They have received the commandments of God, the instructions for righteous living, and the covenants and promises of the Coming Kingdom; and they have brought forth the Messiah. However, world leaders and experts choose to overlook these special gifts from the Chosen Nation and prefer to relegate them as fable and no longer relevant. This is ingratitude at its utmost directed at Israel, but, ultimately, at the God of Israel.

Despite the injustice and evil, Israel continues to live because God is faithful and will fulfil His word. Israel will possess his inheritance.

There is more to Israel waiting in silence.

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven . . .  A time to keep silence, and a time to speak . . . " declares the son of David. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7)

Whilst an earth-shaking shout is fitting for Israel when the King is among His people, when the enemy is near and is in control, any sign of loyalty to another is viewed as a threat to the present regime, and will attract unwarranted attention. For Israel, this is especially important during the times of the Gentiles when the nations have a greater influence over the Land and People of Israel.

The Coming Kingdom is a glorious hope and future for both Israel and the nations. Yet, not everyone wants the future King or His kingdom. Evil tyrants, and evil regimes must run their course. "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)

The prophet Daniel was shown this vision which speaks of the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom. A period of time has been determined "For your people (Israel) and for your holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." (Daniel 9:24) Evil must run its course, and then the end will come.

"At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.

"And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

"Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." (Daniel 12:1-3)

The soul of Israel faints, but it is not without hope. The eyes search His word because only His word contains the promise of deliverance and redemption, the foundation to faith, and the instructions to a life of righteousness. The promises of God are not found at the negotiation tables of world leaders. His faithfulness will not be the discussions of diplomats and experts. His word is the source of life and hope.

Israel will not receive salvation, deliverance or relief from international rulings because God's word is ignored. Indeed, Israel is rebuked and criticized because the international community does not esteem His word.

The Psalmist continues, "For I have become like a wineskin in smoke." (Psalm 119:83) Smoke will blacken a wineskin causing it to look unsightly, and possibly, no longer fit for use, and therefore, requiring it to be replaced. Usually a wineskin is used over a long period of time. Initially, the time it takes for the new wine to mature. Then, eventually, when the wine is consumed, a wineskin can be reused to store mature wine. For this reason, a wineskin portrays a long period of time.

The Psalmist says that he has become like "a wineskin in smoke" This is a true portrayal of Israel's suffering, over the lengthy period known as the times of Gentiles, which began with the Babylonian captivity with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This time period has currently been in existence for more than 2,500 years, and is set to conclude, when the Messiah comes, " . . . to bring in everlasting righteousness." (Daniel 9:24).

A wineskin is used to store and carry wine. The wineskin is symbolic of the people of Israel, while the wine is a symbol of joy. Joy is a prominent feature and therefore speaks of the Messianic era, the Coming Kingdom. At that time Jerusalem will be the joy of the whole earth. (Psalm 48)

As wineskins, Israel will bring joy and gladness to all the nations, during the Coming Kingdom. From the Land and the City of joy, Israel will fill the whole earth.

Hear the word of the prophet Isaiah. "In that day sing to her, 'A vineyard of red wine!' I, the LORD keep it, I water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day. . . . Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit." (Isaiah 27:1-3, 6) Israel is depicted here as being kept and protected specifically by the LORD, so that Israel will fruit like a vine producing joy for the nations drink. Israel will have a vital role in the nations' prosperity and peace. The nations, at that time, will sing of Israel's fruitfulness, and of the LORD's faithfulness to His people. It will be a time of great joy for all nations.

Of that day, the prophet Zechariah declared: "For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give its fruit, the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew – I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these. And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing, do not fear let your hands be strong." (Zechariah 8:12-13)

Again the prophet Isaiah declared: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 35:10)

The soul of Israel faints but it is not without hope. Salvation and deliverance will come. God is faithful and will fulfil His promises to His people Israel, who are destined to be the bearers of joy and gladness to all the nations, and indeed to all the earth. May that day speedily come.

Mark Warren