What Does Isaiah 42:3 Mean?

"A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

Isaiah 42:3(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Some of the most beautiful and moving descriptions of the Lord Jesus are found in the writings of Isaiah, the prophet. In chapter 42, the Lord God speaks of Jesus as His Servant Whom He upholds and in Whom He delights. We read of His gentle character, godly conduct, compassionate nature, and lowly actions. We hear that the Spirit of God is upon Him and that He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. 

He is not a person that is overbearing or self-obsessed. Rather, He is identified as quiet, considerate, gracious, and sympathetic. And in verse 3, we are given the most exquisite description of His tender-hearted disposition: "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. He will faithfully bring forth justice."

There is hardly a more frail or fragile object than a bruised and broken reed that has been lashed by the wind or buffeted by turbulent waters, and yet we read that He will not break down a little reed that has been crushed by the stormy weather. To an onlooker standing by the side of a fast-flowing river, a broken reed appears of no significance and little use. 

The bruised reed in this verse is an illustration of a man or woman who has been battered and broken through life's circumstances and whose faith is failing or whose Christian resolve has worn thin. But a broken and bruised heart that is given to God can become an instrument of value that He can use for His greater praise and glory.

We must never forget that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. When a broken life is placed in the hand of this skilled Servant of God, He is able to fashion it into an instrument that is of great value to the Lord. He can fashion it into a useful instrument that can be used for the glory of God, perhaps a cane for walking, a pen for writing, or even a flute to produce a melody that honours our gracious Saviour! 

Similarly, we read that Jesus, the tender-hearted Servant of the Lord, will not quench the smouldering wick of a flickering candle and He will not extinguish a smouldering flax. The flame of a candle can so be easily extinguished by a sharp gust of wind, as can the glowing embers of a few, waxy stalks of flax which have been coaxed into life through a spark from a flint. Rather our gentle Saviour will protect it and fan it into a living flame, for He is the light of the world and He has called us to reflect His light in a darkened world. By nature, the Lord Jesus is compassionate and righteous. He is gracious, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He will not abandon those that are struggling.

Others may consider a bruised reed or smoking flax to be good-for-nothing, except to be snuffed out or trampled underfoot. But the Lord Jesus is God's good and gracious Servant Whom He has sent to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim delivery to the captives, to recover sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised and broken. And He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He gives strength to the bruised reed and nurtures the smoking flax back to life.

We may face injustice in this world as the enemy of our soul seeks to discredit our testimony, discourage our hearts, and destroy our faith, but Jesus has promised never to leave us and to be with us whatever betides. Let us never forget that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and a day is coming when He will judge the world in righteousness and faithfully bring forth justice, in God's time and His way.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending the Lord Jesus to be our good, gracious, and gentle Redeemer Who is coming back to bring justice and to judge in righteousness. Thank You that He walked this earth before us and understands our weaknesses, our difficulties, and our disappointments. Thank You that He will not crush a broken reed or snuff out a flickering wick, but has come to heal the broken-hearted and provide the sufficient strength we all need as we journey through life, for His name's sake. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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