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Summary: How do you handle pressure? How can you keep from cracking under pressure?

I. Cracking Under Pressure

A. Text: Psalm 119:81-83

“[81] I am worn out waiting for Your rescue, but I have put my hope in Your Word. [82] My eyes are straining to see Your promises come true. When will You comfort me? [83] I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, but I have not forgotten to obey Your decrees.”

B. Allow me to explain the events surrounding this passage that David wrote.

C. Psalm 119 was written as an overall summary of everything David wrote in the Psalms.

D. Psalm 119 is divided up into 22 sections, each with 8 verses and a corresponding letter over each section. These letters are the letters of Hebrew alphabet.

E. The particular section that we take our text from is listed under the 11th letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Kaph; {kafe}

F. The alphabet was assigned to each section in order to create an acrostic of sorts – for easier memorization. Within each section, all 8 verses begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

G. For example, the second section of Psalm 119 – found in verses 9-16, has been assigned the Hebrew letter – “Beth,” the second letter of the alphabet.

H. The word ‘beth’ in the Hebrew means ‘house,’ or ‘the foundation of the house.’ Bethlehem means ‘house of bread.’

I. If you were to read the ‘beth’ section of Psalm 119 – you would discover that the Psalmist is building a foundation for a person’s life. Verse 9 says: “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your Word..” and then goes from there. This, of course, is a good spiritual foundation.

J. So, what does this say about our text today – in verses 81-83?

K. This is the portion of the text where David is saying –“What about me?” ‘Why is my life in a crisis at this time?’

L. He said, “Sometimes I feel like an old wineskin in the smoke.’

M. What does that mean, really? What is he referring to?

N. First, what is the significance of the letter “Kaph?” ë,ê

O. You’ll remember how we’ve discussed that every Hebrew letter has a corresponding numerical value. The value assigned to the letter Kaph is 20.

P. This letter, kaph, translates directly as "palm (of the hand or tree)" and is the symbol of Crowning Accomplishment--with a dual meaning that encompasses both the beginning and the ending. Kaph also relates to the principle of the "four crowns": priesthood; kingship; the Torah, or Word of God; and a good name.

Q. King David’s ‘crowning accomplishment’ was to remain faithful to God’s law – His Word – even after he had failed God.

R. This passage is David’s lament after he faces the consequences of the sin committed with Bathsheba.

S. David got caught in what I like to call “The Sin Cycle.” First he coveted Bathsheba. Secondly he lusted after Bathsheba. Next, he committed adultery with her. Thirdly he lied about it. Lastly he committed murder to cover it up.

T. And yet, his crowning achievement at this point in his life is that he can at least say he has not given up searching God’s Word for an answer. This is David’s lament for repentance.

II. Under Pressure

A. At this point in David’s life – he is cracking under pressure.

B. Why did he refer to himself as a wineskin in the smoke? What does that mean?

C. The KJV version says “a bottle in smoke.” This doesn’t really mean a glass bottle – it is literally referring to a wineskin – pieces of dried out animal skins sewed together to carry drinking water or wine.

D. You can still travel to the Middle East today and find a Bedouin tent out in the wilderness somewhere. And inside you will find a fire with the smoke billowing out of an opening in the top of a tent (much like a Native American tepee).

E. And they would hang their wineskins around the edges of the tent inside and the smoke from the fire would dry out the wineskin.

F. That’s why David said he was like a wineskin in the smoke.

G. On the wineskin, as the skin dries out, it would begin to crack under the pressure of liquid on the inside and smoke on the outside.

H. Once it begins to crack – it can no longer hold what is inside it.

I. If enough heat gets in or near it – and it dries out – it can no longer take the pressure – and it begins to crack under pressure and begins to expose, or spill out what’s inside.

J. You are a temple…you are a container…you are a vessel. As a container, have you ever cracked under pressure?

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