“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Explanation and Commentary of Psalm 34:18
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Scholars debate whether this should be considered a command to be poor in spirit, or whether it is only the statement of a fact: those who happen to be poor in spirit are blessed because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
In this Psalm, it seems clear that those who are going through trials are the ones who are crushed in spirit. In light of the promises made by the Psalmist for those who take refuge in the Lord (Ps 34:8) we can assume that he is talking about those who find trouble, not because of their unrighteousness, but because there is trouble in this world. He promises that “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;”
In the same way, Jesus gives encouragement to the “poor in spirit,” the Psalmist wants to let the righteous who are suffering know that God will be close to them and deliver them. Jesus said that to them belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Psalm 34:18
#1 “The Lord is close…”
In Psalm 46:1 we see that God is ever-present. Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” This may be bad news for those who want to escape the watchful eye of God and his judgment, but for those who love Him, it is meant to be a great source of comfort.
#2 “…to the brokenhearted…”
But it is often the broken-hearted who see him best. Many a self-satisfied, self-righteous, nominal Christian has leaped to greater faith and spiritual strength by some great trial or suffering. God loves his children too much to allow us to go undisciplined away from his presence. While it is impossible to escape his presence, it is more than possible to pretend he is not there.
#3 “…and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
For salvation from hell or from trial, one has to call out to the God who is there waiting. If the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, it is because of the surrender that comes when one gives up being one’s own god and living in one’s own strength. Do not wait for trouble. Surrender and follow him. “The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned” (Ps 34:22).
Expert Overview of Psalms
Biblical Translations of Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
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.