Tag Archive: crushed in spirit

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]

psalm 19 is a tough one. because there is just so much in it. it is a beautiful, beautiful psalm. make sure you read the whole thing.

It starts so powerfully with a declaration of who God is:

‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.’ [Psalm 19.1] This makes me think of Jesus calming the storm in the boat [‘The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” [Luke 8.24-25]] and when Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly [‘When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19.37-40]

the message is that God will be praised and if we can’t do it then nature will take over. the glory and creativity and imagination of God are all revealed through nature. take a moment to praise God and add your voice or the meditation of your heart to the chorus…

verse 4 [‘In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun’] got a little more chaotic when i read it to my wife [aka the beautiful Val] because it reminded both of us of a really funny awkward sermon moment which happened here.

but back to more serious things. STOP LAUGHING!

this next section i just loved the poetry in the writing:

‘The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.’

The first time i read over this psalm i read the word ‘warned’ in verse 11 as ‘warmed’ and i think it works both ways… because when you start to know and experience the character, heart and faithfulness of God, then even His commands/law/statutes warm you – there is a confidence and sense of being able to trust this God who promises to be with you even when you are ‘broken-hearted’ or ‘crushed in spirit’ [psalm 34.18] and even when you are walking through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ [psalm 23.4] – He won’t take all the bad away, but He will strengthen and comfort and walk alongside you…

verse 12 and 13 ask for protection and forgiveness from sins we are aware of and even those we may not be which is a good reminder of the accountability we need to have with other people who can help point out our weaknesses in love as we invite them to.

and then the psalm ends powerfully with: ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.’ [vs 14]

if only all Christ followers, myself included, could start each day with that prayer and then try and back it up with our actions, we would completely start to transform the world…

‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

that is how this psalm starts and it reminds me of that old – ‘if there is a huge distance between you and God, guess who moved?’ – which in some dimensions might be a cheesy christian car bumper sticker, but actually there is a lot of truth to it and i am reminded of a couple of verses instantly:

‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ [psalm 34.18]

‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ [psalm 23.4]

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” [deuteronomy 31.6, repeated in hebrews 13.5]

and then this conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 33:

‘Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”’ [vs. 12-17]

Again, the psalmist is just speaking his heart when he cries [because i get the strong impression it’s a cry or a wail]: ‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

Whereas God has promised again and again that He will be there. He won’t necessarily remove bad times [which is why we end up feeling like He is not present] but He has promised to be near when they strike: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ [Romans 8.28]

And once more the psalmist ends at the point of realising this and pointing it out for himself – the undeniable strains of the character of God revealed in ways like this: ‘The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.’ [psalm 10.16-18]

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