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  • Pamela Mattox

The Grace of a Broken Heart

Breaking the body bends the will. — thoughts from Psalm 10:15


When I read through the Psalms a couple years ago I got hung up in my spirit on ill wishes found in the psalmists words, calling down the wrath of God, so to speak. As a woman who strives to hold no malice in her heart, their words were hard to read. Especially those written by David, known to be a man after God’s own heart. Take a look at a few examples...


Pour out Your wrath on them; let Your fierce anger overtake them. (David in Psalm 69:24)


Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. (David in Psalm 3:7)


...rouse Yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. (David in Psalm 59:5)


Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise. (David in Psalm 140:10)

...pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. (Asaph in Psalm 83:15)


The compassionate side of me that carries women to the feet of Jesus to find healing for their wounds wanted to stand up and flail her arms, getting the writers attention to say, “Wait! Don’t send the wicked to slaughter just yet! Something inside of them is broken and needs to be mended. Our God has the power to reach even the most vile heart and turn it to Himself.”


It is one thing to ask God to rise to my defense, contend for me, and vindicate me in His righteousness (Psalm 35:23-24). And entirely another to ask God to hurt those who hurt me. Doing so would be letting my woundedness do the talking.


Tables turned, I think about times where I may have hurt someone with my words or my actions, and how I would feel if the one I hurt or offended asked God to hurt me in return!

Then I studied Psalm 10 and it was as if the Lord was holding a diamond, twisted it slightly to the right, and I gained a new perspective on the matter as a new facet caught the light and started to glimmer. In verse 15, David once again seems to wish ill on his adversaries saying, “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness...”

Call him to account for his wickedness.


That means, call him to account for his sin.


Glancing at Psalm 83 again, Asaph goes on to say in verse 16, “Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek Your name, O LORD.”

...so that men will seek Your name, O LORD.

That means, shame is meant to drive us to the feet of the Father.


I began to connect the dots a little differently this time around. David asks God to protect and rescue him over and over in the Psalms because the wicked seem to strut around doing evil, thinking their vile acts go unnoticed. God, being slow to anger, appears to be dragging His feet in David’s eyes, not vindicating His own fast enough. So David pleads with Him in prayer to rise up against them so they will terrify him no more.


Ultimately, the breaking of the wicked man’s body by the hand of the Lord is meant to bend his will to the Father. To call him to account for his crimes. To disable his destructive tendencies. To draw his attention to the One who holds his fate in His hands. David’s ill wishes then, are in all actuality, a plea for God to show the wicked Who is in charge. They are meant to hold them accountable for their wrongdoing and turn their hearts to the Father.


Matthew 5:44 challenges us, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...”


Sometimes, it takes breaking the man to bend the will toward heaven. Sometimes that man is us. Sometimes "we" need a shattering to show us who God is. An abrupt interruption to our sin. Or a sudden shift in our perspective so we will stop viewing God through smudged lenses. Through the lies we didn't even know we were believing about God, ourselves or our circumstances. We often see Him more clearly through the lens of suffering than we ever did through the lens of status quo.

In the long run, it is the breaking that makes the heart bow. It is the breaking that calls sin and shame to account. It is the breaking that reveals buried wounds that need to be mended. So praying for God to call wickedness to account and have His way in hearts — theirs or our own — becomes a grace. Even, and especially, when it breaks the heart or heaps burning coals on the head in the process, because it is God's intent that it would be delivered with healing in its wings.


RECLAIM YOUR HEART


Father God, do I have any hidden sin or shame in my heart that needs to be called to account? I want Your healing in the deepest parts of my being. Show me what I need to know from You.

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