Tim Challies is starting another round of his book club ‘Reading Classics Together‘. The book he’s chosen next is the Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes. I’ve never joined in before, but I’m on a bit of a Puritan drive at the moment, and the chapters seem pretty short, so I thought I’d give this one a crack.
The book starts off by discussing Christ’s ministry to the ‘bruised reeds’ of Isaiah 42:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
According to Sibbes, a bruised reed is “a man that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken.”
Sibbes emphasises that this bruising is a grace that causes us to know ourselves truely, and to set “a high price on Christ”.
What I particularly liked about this chapter was the way he applies the doctrine that bruising is a gracious act of God:
Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising. There must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who `was bruised for us’ (Isa. 53:5) that we may know how much we are bound unto him.
I’d be interested to know what others think of this quote. If I’ve understood him correctly, Sibbes is saying that we shouldn’t judge our own or others’ brokenness through sin, because in a way this identifies us with Christ’s suffering for sin. I don’t want to push it too far but I think this will definately change the way I think about someone who’s going through a hard time struggling with something. This is God bruising them, so that they be bound more closely to the one who was ‘pierced for our transgressions.’
If you can’t get hold of a paper copy, you can read the Bruised Reed online. Let me know what you think!