Have you ever felt like your spirit is crushed and your heart broken? Like you’ve been pounded into dust or smashed to smithereens?
Those are the definitions for the Hebrew words shabar (H7665, broken) and dakka (H1793, crushed). I bring them up because I want to talk about this verse from Psalms:
Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a crushed spirit. (Psalm 34:18, WEB)
When you’re ground down like dust and broken into pieces, God is there beside you. We often want Him to prevent or remove bad things but it seems that in most cases His preference is to walk with us through hardship rather than stop it from ever happening. We are promised deliverance, but in His timing, not ours.
Suffering and Deliverance
Let’s read some of the context for this verse (you can click here to read the whole Psalm).
The righteous cry, and Yahweh hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a crushed spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but Yahweh delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:17-19, WEB)
It’s clear from this psalm that righteousness doesn’t exempt us from bad situations. In fact, “many are the afflictions of the righteous” and they have to cry to Yahweh for deliverance. That holds true for believers throughout the ages.
I endured those persecutions. The Lord delivered me out of them all. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:11-12, WEB)
Here’s Paul, centuries after David, expressing the same truths. Those who follow God must expect to endure afflictions and persecutions, but they can also expect deliverance.
Even Jesus Was Crushed
That a godly life involves suffering was something the Biblical writers took for granted. They suffered, I’ve suffered, you’ve suffered, even the Messiah had to suffer.
He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect him. Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. (Is. 53:3-5, WEB)
Our Messiah and Savior, Jesus, is well acquainted with the feeling of being crushed and broken (both literally and figuratively). He went through all this suffering for us, not because of anything He did wrong. And because of His experiences, the writer of Hebrews tells us we can “draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16, WEB)
Increased Compassion and Mercy
Jesus Christ suffered so He could take the consequences of our sins on Himself. By dying in our place, He made it possible for us to be reconciled to God and receive eternal life as part of His family. But that’s not the only reason He did this.
Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:17-18, WEB)
Christ’s sufferings gave Him a first-hand experience with what it’s like to be a human being crushed in spirit and broken hearted. God has always been compassionate and merciful, but since the cross He is even more so. If David could say, “Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a crushed spirit,” then so can we.
We can confidently come to Jesus for help, knowing that He understands what we’re going through. Even if He doesn’t take the problems we’re facing away, He will fill us with His perfect power and help us face whatever comes (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
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