Should Christians seek brokenness?

A Bible Study By Rev. Nate Wilson


A search through the King James Bible for the word “broken” turned up the following relevant passages:


Psalm 89:10 Thou hast broken[1] Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.


Psalm 38:8 I am feeble and sore broken1: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.


Psalm 44:19 Though thou hast sore broken1 us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.


Isaiah 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken[2], that it be not a people.


1Samuel 2:10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken[3] to pieces;


Psalm 109:16 Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken[4] in heart.


2Kings 11:6 And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken[5] down.


Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken[6].


Isaiah 33:20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken[7].


Leviticus 22:24 Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken7, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.


Isaiah 33:8 The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken[8] the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.


Isaiah 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken8 the everlasting covenant.


Job 16:12 I was at ease, but he hath broken8 me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.


Hos 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken[9] in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.


Leviticus 26:13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken[10] the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.


Job 38:15 And from the wicked their light is withheld, and the high arm shall be broken10.


Psalm 3:7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken10 the teeth of the ungodly.


Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken10 heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.


Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken10 and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.


Psalm 147:3 He healeth the broken10 in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.


Isaiah 14:5 The LORD hath broken10 the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers.


Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken10 off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favor.


Isaiah 36:6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken10 reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.


Jeremiah 23:9 Mine heart within me is broken10 because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.


Jeremiah 48:38 There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken10 Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.


Lamentations 2:9 Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken10 her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.


Ezekiel 6:4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken10: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.


Ezekiel 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken10 with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.


Ezekiel 30:21 Son of man, I have broken10 the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed, to put a roller to bind it, to make it strong to hold the sword.


Ezekiel 32:28 Yea, thou shalt be broken10 in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword.


Ezekiel 34:4, 16 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken10, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them… I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken10 , and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.


Ezekiel 34:27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken10 the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.


Matthew 24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken[11] up.


Romans 11:17, 20 And if some of the branches be broken[12] off , and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree… Well; because of unbelief they were broken12 off , and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:


1Cor. 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he broke[13] it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.


Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken[14]: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.


John 19:36 For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken[15].


Revelation 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken15 to shivers: even as I received of my Father.



From these passages, it is evident that brokenness is not something to be desired. No one in the entire Bible prayed for brokenness. Brokenness is a result of the wrath of God against sin.


God vented His just wrath against our sin upon Jesus, who was broken for us so that we do not have to be broken. This is why the bread of the Lord’s Supper was broken as a symbol.


God, in His grace, brings hardship into our lives to restore our relationship with Him. If we do not recognize our pride and rebellion, He will break us and make us realize how proud we have been so that we will turn to Him in humility and be restored.


If we have been broken by God because of our sin, we should not be hopeless, but turn to God and ask for restoration, placing our faith in His son, Jesus, and He will not despise us. Otherwise we will be utterly lost without Jesus. I believe this is the meaning of Psalm 51:17. David had been broken through sickness because of his unrepentant sin, but he knew that even when God breaks and punishes His people for their rebellion, He does not hate His people. He will always welcome us back when we repent, just as the father welcomed his prodigal son in Jesus’ parable.


I suspect that the current fad of Christians praying for brokenness and singing songs asking for God to break them is actually a misappropriation of the Biblical exhortations against pride. Throughout the Bible, God says over and over again that He hates pride, and we should indeed be humble. Therefore, I suggest that we let the Bible govern our vocabulary rather than popular culture. If our culture uses the word “broken” in a different way than the Bible does, perhaps we could the Biblical word “Humble” instead to express the same thing in Biblical terms.


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[1] דכא crumble; transitively to bruise (literally or figuratively): - beat to pieces, break (in pieces), bruise, contrite, crush, destroy, humble, oppress, smite. (Strong’s #1792)

[2]  חת crushed; also afraid; abstractly terror: - broken, dismayed, dread, fear. (Strong’s # 2844)

[3]  חתת to prostrate; hence to break down, either (literally) by violence, or (figuratively) by confusion and fear: - abolish, affright, be (make) afraid, amaze, beat down, discourage, (cause to) dismay, go down, scare, terrify. (Strong’s #2865)

[4]  כאה to despond; causatively to deject: - broken, be grieved, make sad. (Strong’s #3512)

[5]  מסח staving off; a cordon, (adverbially) or (as a) military barrier: - broken down. (Strong’s #4535)

[6]  נכא smitten, that is, (figuratively) afflicted: - broken, stricken, wounded. (Strong’s #5218)

[7]  נתק to tear off: - break (off), burst, draw (away), lift up, pluck (away, off), pull (out), root out. (Strong’s #5423)

[8]  פרר to break up (usually figuratively, that is, to violate, frustrate): - X any ways, break (asunder), cast off, cause to cease, X clean, defeat, disannul, disappoint, dissolve, divide, make of none effect, fail, frustrate, bring (come) to nought, X utterly, make void. (Strong’s # 6565)

[9]  רצץ to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively: - break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, struggle together. (Strong’s #7533)

[10]  שׁבר to burst (literally or figuratively): - break (down, off, in pieces, up), broken ([-hearted]), bring to the birth, crush, destroy, hurt, quench, X quite, tear (Strong’s #7665)

[11] διορύσσω to penetrate burglariously: - break through (up). (Strong’s #1358)

[12] ε̉κκλάω to exscind: - break off. (Strong’s #1575)

[13] κλάω to break (specifically of bread): - break. (Strong’s #2806)

[14] συνθλάω to dash together, that is, shatter: - break (Strong’s #4917)

[15] συντρίβω to crush completely, that is, to shatter (literally or figuratively): - break (in pieces), broken to shivers (+ -hearted), bruise. (Strong’s #4937)