“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 

David was a fugitive. The King of Israel, Saul, was trying to kill him. In his desperation, David sought refuge in a city inhabited by the Philistines, Israel’s enemy. Upon his arrival, he realized the magnitude of his mistake – out of the pot and into the frying pan – and began acting deranged, hoping the Philistines would release him instead of killing him. This narrow brush with danger caused David to run and hide in a cave. When his rag-tag group of desperate followers heard this, they joined him in seclusion. It was at this low point in David’s life that he wrote Psalm 34:18. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” 

Has your heart ever been broken? Or perhaps your spirit crushed? In the last few months, I’m sure the senseless deaths and ensuing violence have broken all our hearts. We grieve for all victims of brutality. The tumultuous divide existing across racial lines has crushed our spirits. This ever-widening polarity has caused a collective groan within the hearts of all who long for unity and equality. Quarantine, which Covid-19 began, has now shifted to curfews, fueled by societal unrest. During these desperate times, our homes have become “caves,” and in our seclusion, we find ourselves at our lowest. 

Rather than slipping deeper into seclusion or doing something foolish, David made a different choice. He chose to cry out to God, describing things he knew to be true. Sitting there together in the cave, with other broken and crushed people, David began to sing a song of praise. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…”

I’m sure his words provided as much comfort for his heartbroken followers as they offer us now. Think about it. We’re typically not drawn to those who’ve hit rock bottom, or when someone acts foolishly, the last thing any of us want to do is get close. But God does what we consider unorthodox. In our broken state, when our anger seeps out, and we act like a fool, He offers a steady hand, bringing peace to our turmoil. When injustice and violence devastate us, and we’re beaten down by all that’s wrong in this world, these are the very times when His reassuring voice provides the strength we need to make it. When we feel grief-stricken, choking back our tears and overwhelmed by sorrow and pain, God chooses the seat next to ours and holds our hand. He doesn’t run away from our brokenness or hide in times of trouble. He draws near. 

 “He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” 

David had first-hand knowledge that when God draws near, He doesn’t do so passively; On the contrary, when He comes close, He acts on our behalf and saves those who are crushed. While it may sometimes seem God is silent, behind the scenes, He is actively working to rescue us in times of trouble. 

What can we learn from these words of David? 

One, when you’re at your lowest, sing a song of praise to God. The simple act of reminding yourself about the truth of who God is can change your perspective. 

Two, when you’re at your lowest, God is near, and you are not alone. Knowing He is with you reminds you that you never walk alone. 

Three, when you’re at your lowest, God is moving to rescue you. Reminding yourself that God is working for your good, helps to dispel the lies that God has forgotten you. 

During these unsettling times, when we are in the depths of despair, thinking we are alone and forgotten, or weeping over our brokenness or shattered dreams, read these beautiful lyrics of David and remember. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 

– Chris Hardy, Director of Programs & Church Partnerships

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