This has been one of my favorite verses amongst favorite verses for the longest time.

It comes from my favorite psalm, psalm 34, which I enjoy so much cos almost every single verse is really great and powerful (seriously, just go and read the whole thing if you don’t know it!).

But verse 34 is a very special one: The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Now, I don’t know about you, but for me those two descriptions seem to speak into the lowest of the low places a human can fall to:

Having your heart broken.

Having your spirit crushed.

I’m not sure it gets any worse than that?

If you have ever really loved someone and they loved you back for a time, and then something happened, and they stopped returning your love, but yours continued to burn at the same, or even greater intensity, then you will likely understand what I am talking about. Your heart did not literally break, but it might as well have, because the intensity of the pain and brokenness you felt, and maybe even still feel, sure made it feel that way.

In a similar way, if you really felt strong love for someone for a long period of time, and it was never reciprocated, then you will likely have some understanding of what the psalmist is referring to. Especially the moment when you heard that person had decided to give their love to someone else.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.

And what about having your spirit crushed? My mind immediately goes to someone who has been tortured or in prison for a very long time. Where through extreme pain, or possibly extended isolation, your spirit, your life and passion and emotional energy and very will to live, is very slowly and methodically stripped down, piece by piece, until there is really not much left at all.

But most of us will not go through a spirit-crushing that extreme I imagine. For many people the crushing of a spirit can happen gradually over time, as dreams remain unrealised or expectations are dashed; as relationships are seen to break down or perhaps seem like they are beyond repair; as one or both parents remain out of work and are getting beaten down by unsuccessful job application after application; and more…

The Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The message of this psalm, and specially this particular verse, is that God is bigGER. And maybe more importantly, God is there. The message of the bible is seldom that God will take away the crap or hardship in your life, but that He will Presence Himself in it, that He will come alongside you, that He will not let you fall and abandon you. God is there! When your heart is breaking. He knows and He loves you and wants you to find your refugee in Him. When your spirit has increasing pressure weighing down upon it, Good is right there, within arm’s reach and He invites you to crawl into Him.

God knows and is there and He loves you and He is mighty to save.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; and save those who are crushed in spirit.

[For my next favourite verse, click here]

[For the growing list of all my favourite verses, click here]