“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
I find myself a little hesitant about addressing the subject of grief. It is not because the Bible has nothing to say about the topic. It does. However, I am reluctant because I know that there many other people and pastors who have experienced much more grief than I have and have much more insight about grieving than I do.
Therefore, I seek to share what God’s Word has to say about grief and draw and conclusions about the subject from God’s inspired truth. Grief is deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. The Bible addresses the subject in many portions of the Old and New Testament concerning a variety of circumstances and situations.
For example, Isaac and Rebekah experienced grief when their son Esau married a Hittite woman (Genesis 26:35). God mourned the misery of Israel brought upon them by disobedience (Judges 10:16). Because she had no son, Hannah was sad—so much so that she appeared to be drunk while praying (1 Samuel 1:16). Similarly, Samuel, grieved at King Saul’s disobedience, prayed all night. Job was exceedingly sorrowful over his personal loss (Job 2:13; cf. 6:2; 16:6), and the psalmist poetically demonstrated distress and sorrow (Pss 6:7; 31:9–10; 69:26; 73:21; 95:10; 112:10). The book of Lamentations is devoted to the expression of grief, and the prophets in general speak of judgment because Israel had grieved a holy God.
In the New Testament, Jesus experienced sorrow and distress (Mark 3:5; John 11:33), including crying over the death of a friend (John 11:35). Isaiah 53:3 describes Jesus as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
The Jews are said to have been grieved as the apostles taught about Christ (Acts 4:2). The apostle Paul instructed believers not to grieve one another (Rom 14:15) and did not want to cause any sorrow himself (2 Corinthians 2:1–5). Most of all, the believer is not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). A believer may, of course, experience grief and suffering in an alien world (1 Peter 2:19).
Jesus explicitly said to His disciples that in this world, they, and all disciples who seek to follow the Lord, would experience trouble and tribulation (John 16:33).
Today’s text is taken from Psalm 34. It is a Psalm of David. The occasion for the psalm was when David pretended to be insane before King Abimelech (I Samuel 21:10-19). It is a psalm addressing the blessing of those who trust in the LORD.
David is stating that Yahweh is close by and near to those who are crushed and despondent in their inner person and soul. In other words, the Lord is particularly near to His people who are experiencing great grief in their minds, emotions and wills. What a precious promise.
Dr. R.C. Sproul’s thoughts on grief are particularly insightful. He writes, “When we speak of the reality of grief, we are talking about pain. The pain that we describe by the use of this word, however, is not the pain of a minor irritation. It is not the pain of a broken bone, a fractured leg, a pierced shoulder. It is a pain that penetrates the skin of a person and plunges to the deepest recesses of the person’s being. It is a pain that grips the soul with a vise-like pincer that brings with the pain an excruciating sense of mourning. We use the term grief to describe pain that assaults the deepest level of our being. We often use the metaphor of the broken heart, yet we know that hearts don’t break like a glass that falls on the floor or like bones that are shattered in an accident. The broken heart really describes a weeping soul, a soul that is cloaked in the darkest night.”
My family is currently grieving the death of a stillborn child. Many friends and acquaintances have shared with me their own personal stories of having experienced this same event and the resulting grief and pain they felt. I am truly amazed as to how many families have suffered this type of loss. I am also comforted by those who understand what me and my family are experiencing (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
May you take comfort in that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted. May you also comfort, and be comforted by, those who are grieving a similar loss as you.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!