The Lord Is Close to the Brokenhearted

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NEHEMIAH 11:1-12:26 | 1 CORINTHIANS 10:14-33 | PSALM 34:11-22 | PROVERBS 21:14-16

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Nehemiah is recounting a job well done.  As governor of Judah, under the auspices of the Persian king of the day, he is successful in returning to Judah to rebuild and fortify the gates and walls of the city of Jerusalem.  But his greater achievement lies in reawakening the conscience of the Jewish people that has returned from exile, and in resettling them in their homeland promised to them by the God of their ancestors. 

These newly returned exiles return, become resettled, and this chapter offers a detailed account of the tribes and families that participated in this reoccupation.

Turning now to our reading in the book of I Corinthians, we find Paul exhorting his reader to avoid any and all practices of idolatry.  The young Christians that comprised the church in Corinth, Greece were in need of such frequent reminders as they had newly come out of environs where pagan practices of idol-worship to a pantheon of gods was practiced. 

The Greeks had a god for every element of the earth, and there was no dearth of gods and goddesses to petition.  From such a framework, came many of the Gentile, i.e., non-Jewish people who adopted the Christian faith, and to these people, Paul writes these words of instruction. 

Paul acknowledges the believer’s freedom in all things, and yet cautions that one’s behavior ought not become a stumbling-block to another.  He says, 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

Paul concludes this topic with these words:  31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Turning next to our psalm for the day, we find the psalmist offering the most useful words of instructions to the young in these verses.  He says:

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Then, there is encouragement offered to the believer, in these verses:

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

6
but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

Finally, a very matter-of-fact verse from the book of Proverbs:

16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

4 thoughts on “The Lord Is Close to the Brokenhearted

  1. Interesting that Paul’s ethics in this section are about individuals doing the right thing but they’re set very much in the community. “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” Everything we do has an impact on those around us, both the good and the bad.

    1. Yes, that is exactly what he’s saying. And remember, his reader is the new believer. He’s stressing the importance of setting a good example — all for the sake of the non-believer. Not so one can boast in their own good works, because he has established already that we are saved by faith and not good works.

      Good works are not tied to the state of our soul, our salvation, but good works set the tone for how we are perceived by our non-believing fellow-men. If we are not mindful of this, we might be doing more damage than we realize in that we “turn off” a non-believer by virtue of our actions.

      TFS. GBY.

      On Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 7:41 AM, Smriti "Simmi" D. Isaac wrote:

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  2. Reading this again I’m struck by the challenge that Paul faced in keeping such disparate groups of people living and working and acting in harmony in the young church of Corinth. Imagine Jews who’ve been devoutly keeping their religious laws their entire lives worshipping next to newly-converted Greeks who, as you point out, “had newly come out of environs where pagan practices of idol-worship to a pantheon of gods was practiced.” There were centuries of mistrust to overcome; hence Paul’s passion and persistence in teaching them to put the well-being of others, of the community, before all else.

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