Question:Can you help me with the meaning of Psalms 56:8, especially the part "tears into thy bottle?"
"You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8).
Each phrase is a reference to God remembering or recording what has happened to David. This particular Psalm, we are told is "A Michtam of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath" (Psalm 56).
Number My Wanderings
Making an ordered list of where David has gone. David was constantly on the move trying to escape Saul, yet God has kept constant track of him during these hard times.
Put My Tears into Your Bottle
Commentator Adam Clarke noted, "Here is an allusion to a very ancient custom, which we know long obtained among the Greeks and Romans, of putting the tears which were shed for the death of any person into small phials, called lacrymatories or urnae lacrymales and offering them on the tomb of the deceased. Some of these were of glass, some of pottery, and some of agate, sardonyx, &c. A small one in my own collection is of hard baked clay."
So in other words, this was another method people used in the past to remember, in this case to remember griefs. David is saying that God has kept track of all his sorrows and remembers them. Just as God told Hezekiah, "Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD" (II Kings 20:5).
Are They Not in Thy Book
This is an allusion to the Book of Life. "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Revelation 20:12). Thus David is saying that God has also kept a record of everything he has done. "Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name" (Malachi 3:16).
David's point is that God cares. He knows what is going on and He hasn't forgotten His children or lost track of what has happened to them.
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man, that you think of him? What is the son of man, that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:4).