It might not be our image today, but it was the psalmist’s image: “I am like a wineskin in the smoke” (119:83). Or as the JPS translator has it: “Though I have become like a water-skin dried in smoke.” What does this image evoke, for it is from this point that this section (koph) of Psalm 119 takes its departure?
Dried up to the point of cracking.
Hard to the point of no flexibility.
Parched to the point where moisture is the only hope.
What makes you dry up? What hardens you? What parches you? Do you know what it is that leads you into such a condition?
But this psalmist is beyond simply recognizing his personal condition and clear needs — in spite of being dried up and parched, “I have not neglected your laws.”
Sometimes our personal condition absorbs us; we can think of nothing but ourselves; we become self-preoccupied to the point of obsession. We need self-awareness; self-absorption we don’t.
In spite of our needy condition, the psalmist reminds us that even when we are parched to the point of cracking, we are to have a wineskin hope — the hope of a wineskin parched and drying but still pining away for some moisture, and that moisture comes from the Water who is God.