Isaiah 42:3 Meaning of a Bruised Reed

Isaiah 42:3
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”

Explanation and Commentary of Isaiah 42:3

Isaiah speaks of the Messiah who was to come. When he does come, he would not break a tender and fragile person. Indeed, Jesus was gentle to the lost and the least. He told the teachers of the law that he came to seek and save what was lost (Lk 19:10), that it was not the healthy that needed a doctor, but the sick (Lk 5:31). Those who were coming to Christ were “harassed and helpless” (Mt 9:36). The Pharisees sought to break all who they considered to be less than perfect keepers of the law. Christ sought to gently mend what was broken.

If there was a “smoldering wick,” rather than snuff it out, he would reignite it. Those who came to him were barely making it because of their poor situations, but Christ found any who had in them a spark of hunger for God. These were the ones who responded to his teaching and followed him. If we have any true faith in us, it can be fanned into a great flame if we will go to Jesus every day. The parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30) teaches us that a small endowment of faith can multiply as we make the most of what we have.

Although Jesus was incredibly gentle, he was absolutely faithful in his commitment to justice. God is perfect. This fact is difficult to comprehend because perfection is such a rare quality. Because he is perfect, his justice is perfect. This means that no one ever gets away with any sin. One way or another, anything amiss, dishonest, unrighteous, out of balance, or evil in any way will be corrected. Christ, while loving, was faithful in bringing forth justice, even in being the “just and the justifier” (Ro 3:26) of those who would believe. And when he returns at the end of days he will bring with him just recompense (Isa 40:10).

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Isaiah 42:3

#1 “A bruised reed…”
This is a good way to describe the state of a human. Some, in their pride, may not be aware of their spiritual and physical fragility, but “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” (1 Peter 1:24). Sin has devastated the human race in ways hard to comprehend. Christ came to restore and repair what was lost.

#2 “…he will not break,”
Many of his contemporaries assumed the Messiah would be a powerful and exacting judge and military leader. The religious authorities thought that he would be like themselves and come to clean up Israel of the filth of sinners. This was not his plan.

#3 “a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
As long as there is a “smoldering wick” God can transform a heart. A spark of faith can become a flame. Jesus came to find any who were waiting for him. He was the catalyst for a dying world that was almost burnt out. Still today there are “smoldering wicks” all around us, and the name of Jesus can ignite the searching heart.

Expert Overview of Isaiah 40-66

Biblical Translations of Isaiah 42:3

NIV
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.

NLT
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.

ESV
A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

KJV
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

NKJV
A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.

Isaiah 42:3 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.