Psalm 34:18
The LORD is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 34:18. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart — Ready to hear and succour them; though, by the course of his providence toward them, he may sometimes seem to themselves and others to stand afar off. “God is near to all men; for in him they live: but he is near to the broken in heart, in a peculiar sense, as he is ever ready and able to help them; as men are much more capable of assisting those they value, when present with them than when absent from them; from which this form of speech, as applied to God, is taken.” — Chandler. And saveth such as be of a contrite spirit — Those whose spirits are truly humbled under the hand of God, and the sense of their sins, whose hearts are subdued, and made obedient to God’s will, and submissive to his providence.34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart - Margin, as in Hebrew: "to the broken of heart." The phrase, "the Lord is nigh," means that he is ready to hear and to help. The language is, of course, figurative. As an Omnipresent Being, God is equally near to all persons at all times; but the language is adapted to our conceptions, as we feel that one who is near us can help us, or that one who is distant from us cannot give us aid. Compare the notes at Psalm 22:11. The phrase, "them that are of a broken heart," occurs often in the Bible. It refers to a condition when a burden "seems" to be on the heart, and when the heart "seems" to be crushed by sin or sorrow; and it is designed to describe a consciousness of deep guilt, or the heaviest kind of affliction and trouble. Compare Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 66:2.

And sayeth such as be of a contrite spirit - Margin, as in Hebrew: "contrite of spirit." The phrase here means the spirit as "crushed" or "broken down;" that is, as in the other phrase, a spirit that is oppressed by sin or trouble. The world abounds with instances of those who can fully understand this language.

17, 18. Humble penitents are objects of God's special tender regard (Ps 51:19; Isa 57:15). Nigh; ready to hear and succour them; though by the severe course of his providence towards them he seems to themselves and others to stand afar off, as David complains, Psalm 10:1.

Such as be of a contrite spirit; by which he understands either,

1. Those whose spirits are oppressed, and even broken, with the greatness of their calamities. But this may be, and frequently is, the lot of wicked men. And therefore in this sense, and to such persons, this proposition and promise is not true. Or rather,

2. Those whose hearts or spirits are truly and deeply humbled under the hand of God, and the sense of their sins, and God’s displeasure for them, which was David’s case, Psalm 6:1, &c.: Psalm 32:3,4, whose proud and self-willed hearts are subdued and made obedient to God’s will, and submissive to his providence; for to all such, and to such only, this promise is verified. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart,.... Who are pressed and bore down with afflictions, by the sorrow of heart under which their spirits are broken, Proverbs 15:13; or with a sense of sin, and sorrow for it, for which their hearts smite them, and they are wounded by it, and broken with it: to these the Lord is "nigh"; not in a general way only, as he is to all men, being God omnipresent, but in a special manner; he comes and manifests himself to them in a gracious way, pours in the oil and wine of his love, and binds up their broken hearts; yea, comes and dwells with them: he does not pass by them and neglect them, much less make the breach worse; he does not break the bruised reeds, but he heals their breaches;

and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit; not in a legal, but in an evangelical way; who are humbled under a sense of sin, and melted down in true repentance, under a view of the love and grace of God; and are poor and mean in their own eyes: to these the Lord has respect; the sacrifices of a broken and contrite spirit are not despised by him, but accepted through faith in Christ; and such he saves with an everlasting salvation in him.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a {l} broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

(l) When they seem to be swallowed up with afflictions, then God is at hand to deliver them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. nigh &c.] Cp. Psalm 119:151; Isaiah 50:8; and the contrast, Psalm 10:1. The broken in heart and crushed in spirit are those who have been broken down and crushed by sorrow and suffering (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 61:1; Jeremiah 23:9); in whom, it is implied, affliction has borne fruit, and all self-asserting pride has been subdued and replaced by true contrition and humility.Verse 18. - The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and sayeth such as be of a contrite spirit. On the value in God's sight of a broken and contrite heart, see Psalm 2:17; and on his mercy towards the truly contrite, see Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 57:15; 69:2. He "is nigh" to such persons, he "dwells with" them, "looks to them, .... revives their heart, .... heals" them, "saves" them. (Heb.: 34:12-15) The first main division of the Psalm is ended; the second (much the same as in Psalm 32:1-11) assumes more the tone of a didactic poem; although even Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:9 have something of the didactic style about them. The poet first of all gives a direction for fearing God. We may compare Psalm 32:8; Psalm 51:15 - how thoroughly Davidic is the turn which the Psalm here takes! בּנים are not children in years or in understanding; but it is a tender form of address of a master experienced in the ways of God to each one and to all, as in Proverbs 1:8, and frequently. In Psalm 34:13 he throws out the question, which he himself answers in Psalm 34:14. This form of giving impressiveness to a truth by setting it forth as a solution of some question that has been propounded is a habit with David. Psalm 14:1; Psalm 24:8, Psalm 24:10; Psalm 25:12. In the use made of this passage from the Psalms in 1 Peter 3:10-12 ( equals Psalm 34:13 of the Psalm) this form of the question is lost sight of. To חפץ חיּים, as being just as exclusive in sense, corresponds אהב ימים, so that consequently לראות is a definition of the purpose. ימים signifies days in the mass, just as חיּים means long-enduring life. We see from James 3:2., where Psalm 34:13 also, in its form, calls to mind the Psalm before us, why the poet gives the pre-eminence to the avoiding of sins of the tongue. In Psalm 34:15, from among what is good peace is made prominent, - peace, which not only are we not to disturb, but which we are to seek, yea, pursue it like as the hunter pursues the finest of the herds. Let us follow, says the apostle Paul also, Romans 14:19 (cf. Hebrews 12:14), after those things which make for peace. שׁלום is a relationship, harmonious and free from trouble, that is well-pleasing to the God of love. The idea of the bond of fellowship is connected with the corresponding word eiree'nee, according to its radical notion.
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