Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I am a gamer.
Lately, my game of choice has been Fortnite Battle Royale. The battle royale style of gaming allows you to drop into a map with 100 other people and play a new twist on the king of the hill game.
You start out in what they call the “Battle Bus” which is flying above the map. You jump out and, through the use of a glider (or victory parasol if you have won matches like myself), you drop down into the map. One of the most popular strategies is to drop on top of a house or building and then use your pickaxe to break through the roof into the attic where there is usually a golden chest with some great loot.
If you pick the wrong place on the roof you could break through and drop not into the attic, but through a hole into the next level of the house. You then have to take the time and build a ramp to get back up to the attic, leaving yourself vulnerable to other people and with weak defenses.
You broke the roof in the wrong way.
The strategy didn’t work well. The plan didn’t go as, well, planned.
Have you ever been through something that broke you?
How did you handle it?
The Bible gives a plan for using our brokenness. If we choose not to follow Biblical instruction then we can find that, like falling through a hole in Fortnite, we are left more vulnerable and defenseless.
Psalm 51:17 – My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
If we decide to listen to our own desires rather than Biblical instruction, we get our hearts hardened, we become bitter, sarcastic, cynical, and, sometimes, proud.
This world sees the broken as without value. Being broken is something we try to avoid. No one wants to ever say that their finances are broken. Having a broken marriage usually means you are steps away from a divorce. Being broken emotionally can lead to depression and anxiety.
But God has a different view of broken things.
God takes pleasure in broken things while the world turns away from them. In fact, God requires that we be broken before He can begin using us. We need to come to the end of ourselves before we can come to Christ.
Brokenness brings you closer to God.
Psalm 51 is a testament to the fact that God uses the broken.
This Psalm was written when Nathan, the prophet, went to him after David had done his business with Bathsheba. For more on what happened, check out 2 Samuel 11-12.
Verses 1-2 start with David desiring true repentance. He had repented of his sin and now he craved the cleansing from his iniquity. This lays the foundation for the rest of the Psalm, a cry out to God to see what true repentance looks like.
In verses 3-4 David admits to us that his sin is “ever before” him. He is saying that his unconfessed sins are not forgiven. He realizes his sins against God and asks to be justified.
Verses 5 and 6 has David telling us theological truth, we are all born into sin. This theme does not go away as you continue to read the Bible. Even in the new Testament Paul is claiming the same truth (check our Romans 5 or 1 Corinthians 15).
David starts talking about hyssop in verses 7-10. Hyssop was a plant that had cleansing properties. This was an illustration to God that he wanted to be cleansed of his sin. He is asking God to regenerate him, which is, according to 2 Timothy 2:25, a work of God.
2 Timothy 2:25 – Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth
David was concerned. He is worried that he committed apostasy, which would have completely removed God’s Holy Spirit from him. He is asking God in verses 11-13 to restore the “joy of his salvation.” So, I don’t believe that David is truly worried that he is no longer saved, but he is worried that he will no longer know the joy of the Holy Spirit. He is asking for that to return. He is also asking God to restore him so that he will be able to teach others not to sin the way he had. Later in the Psalms we see that David’s joy was restored and he also used his opportunities to teach others.
In verses 14-15 David is asking God to forgive the murder that he committed. Along with this, David is not only asking God to forgive him, but to open his lips and mouth to declare His praise.
The true repentance, and example of his brokenness, is found in verses 16-17. David knows that a simple burnt offering or sacrifice will not atone for what he has done. Only his completely crushed and broken spirit can prove that he is repentant. As he continues into verses 18-19, David is not dismissing the sacrifice system that God has created. David is simply saying that before a sacrifice can be acceptable the heart needs to be repentant.
So how are you broken?
Are you broken correctly? Or are you wrong in how you are broken?
If you simply take the brokenness and build to your sin through pride or bitterness then you are wasting the opportunity for Christ to use you.
Using David’s example, we can see what being broken properly looks like and apply it to our lives so that we don’t give superficial sacrifice but have a completely repentant heart to God.