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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

October 23, 2023

The Bible Edge

Practical Points to Ponder from Proverbs


Proverbs 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.


The phrase “broken spirit” is used only twice in Scripture. The first usage is in Psalm 51, that great penitential Psalm written by David after his adultery with Bathsheba. There it states plainly: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. That type of broken spirit is likened to, and in company with sacrifices of God. Anyone who has ever come to know Christ, believing that He was and is the sacrifice for sin unto God the Father knows of this broken spirit. They were broken by sin; they searched, hungered, and thirsted even for peace and forgiveness from God and found it in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary. The broken spirit spoken of here accompanies forgiveness of God through Christ. That is a good broken spirit.


The broken spirit in today’s verse is not so good. For clearly, a broken spirit drieth the bones. This is both a spiritual truth, and a physical truth. Health of the bones, including the marrow, is vital to a healthy body. Somehow continual, consistent, ongoing, and oppressive brokenness of the spirit of a person can hinder the movement of oxygen through the body, the production of red and white blood cells, skeletal issues, and other serious life-threatening illnesses. Unfortunately, this is where many people live. A broken spirit is their “comfort zone” having been broken for so long.


The antidote is a merry heart. Consider the two other times the phrase “merry heart” is used in Proverbs.


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


Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.


So, get merry! Get active, get involved, get going, get on top side and stay there a while! Get over the hurt, the misunderstanding, the difficulties, the things that work to break your spirit. If you are in Christ, you have a great future, a wonderful home awaiting you beyond the skies, a Father in Heaven that loves you, and a life on earth worth living. So, go out and live it. If all you can focus on is your hurts, your turmoil, and your problems, go find someone else who is worse off than you and help them. That will be an ointment to your soul, will put a super charge in your spirit, and a spring in your step. If you are not in Christ, you can be. He is your sacrifice to a Holy God, offered in a broken spirit, which will mend your broken spirit.


As the old comedian once said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine and if some of you don’t start laughing, you’ll be dead by midnight!”


William T. Howe, Ph.D.

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