In Isaiah 42:3 we read “A bruised reed He shall not break and the smoking flax shall He not quench.” (NKJV)
In the New Living Translation, it reads like this –
“He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle …”
Are you a bruised or weak reed? Are you the smoking flax or flickering candle? I have good news for you. This verse is really all about our LORD. It is a picture of His compassion and sympathy toward all of us who are weak and flickering.
The metaphors that Isaiah uses are really significant. A reed stands very tall and straight but is not all that strong and can easily be bruised or broken by severe wind or by careless human contact, or some animal.
We humans can look so confident, complete, and competitive, yet the strongest of us is frail and made from the dust of the earth. It is amazing how quickly we crumble. In Biblical times, flax was used to make wick for oil lamps. The wicks were well cut and had to be constantly trimmed; if they, weren’t they would give a glimmering light. A type of ash or crust would form on the top of the wick and in time, the light would go out.
I like to think that each of us is like a lamp. Jesus, the Light of the World, lit our spiritual wicks when we were saved. He wants us to shine brightly for Him but our wicks need to be neatly trimmed so that we give off the best light possible. How easy it is for us to get caught up in the affairs of life and our light begins to dim and in time, it hardly is seen, if at all.
It is interesting that our LORD would choose these two metaphors to describe some of His followers. We can become easily offended, easily discouraged, easily depressed. Instead of standing tall and erect or shining like a carefully trimmed wick, we struggle rather than living triumphantly.
On the farm, as I was growing up, we used kerosene lamps to light the house. My parents were always trimming the wicks. If they didn’t, the flame would begin to burn unevenly, start to smoke, and cloud up the lampshade. Before long, very little light was being given.
What is weighing you down and crushing the joy out of your life? What is smothering your spiritual wick and your life isn’t shining very brightly for Christ?
The amazing fact in these verses is how tender, loving and compassionate our LORD is when we are like a broken reed or smoldering flax.
In Lamentations 3:22-24, we read “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul. Therefore, I hope in Him.”
Our Father in heaven doesn’t want to destroy us even when we fail Him. Rather He wants to lift us up and clean us up so that we can shine forth His goodness and glory.
In Psalm 103:14 David, who had sinned greatly, confessed his sin and was restored said, “For He (God) knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
In Hebrews 4:15 we read about Jesus our Hight Priest. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, BUT was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Even when He was brutalized and nailed to the cross, He prayed “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” He doesn’t want to put us down. Rather He wants to raise us up, strengthen us and send us out to share His love and His light.
In Hebrews 4:16 Jesus, our High Priest, encourages us to “come boldly (confidently) to the throne of God’s undeserved grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Folks, think of Peter. On the night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Yet, after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus met with Peter, restored him, and on the Day of Pentecost, when the church was born, Peter gave that powerful sermon and 3,000 people were converted or born again. (Acts 2:14-47)
Perhaps you are a young Christian and you want to serve the LORD but you feel inadequate. Maybe you are an old Christian but have not grown and have compromised with the values of the world. It could be you are a backslider and have wandered away and are not following the LORD. He wants you back. He is doing everything to convince you that He still loves you and is seeking to turn you around so you can come home.
Just like the prodigal son, that we read about in Luke 15:11-20, who came to his senses and decided to come home and he was forgiven and restored. You can come back to Jesus. He is waiting right now to receive you and restore you and empower you to serve Him.