Broken Sacrifices 

An Adult Devotional | By S.A. Keith

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" Psalm 51:17 (NIV).

I love creating stained glass mosaics. For more than ten summers  I have taught a one-week mosaics class to children at a FunArts camp. Sometimes we purchase precut glass. Other times we buy whole sheets of glass, which we then break into pieces for the children to use. 

I enjoy looking at the broken glass--it is beautiful. It reminds me of our relationship with God; how even though we are created in his beautiful image, sin has broken our lives. The uncut sheets of glass are uniquely beautiful, but if they remain isolated, they cannot become part of the mosaics. Is this not what God, the Master Artist, does with his children? He rescues us from brokenness and isolation, and then places us into a mosaic of believers, where together we are formed into the image of his beloved Son.

The Hebrew word for broken is shabar, it means to burst, crush, destroy. And contrite, dakah, means to collapse (mentally or figuratively), to break.

Today's Bible verse from Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" was written by King David during a time of great brokenness in his life. This dramatic story is recorded in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and she became pregnant. To cover up the pregnancy David had her husband, Uriah, sent home from the war, hoping he'd sleep with his wife. However, he didn't count on Uriah being an honorable man who wouldn't allow himself to enjoy the comforts of home while his fellow-soldiers were off fighting a war. David then tried getting Uriah drunk, hoping he would succumb to his passion and spend the night with his wife. But when David's plan failed again, he ordered Uriah sent to the front lines of the war. David knew Uriah would surely be killed, and he was. 

Shortly afterward, Nathan, the prophet of God, went to David and told him a parable: "There was a poor man who had nothing except one little lamb. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms. Now in the same town there lived a very wealthy man. One day a traveler came to visit the rich man. Rather than kill one of his own animals to feed his visitor, he killed the poor man's lamb." (Do you hear the echo in this story of our Good Shepherd, who tenderly cares for us, and the innocent Lamb of God who was slain for us?)

When King David heard of this terrible injustice, he said to Nathan, "That man deserves to die!" Then Nathan proclaimed, "You are that man!" and pronounced God's judgment on the king. After hearing the words of the prophet, David admitted his sin. Nathan told him that God would forgive him, but as a consequence for sinning, the child would die.

For seven days, David fasted and prayed, begging God to save his child. His servants were very worried about him and were unable to console him. David spent the nights lying on the ground---collapsed in his brokenness. Then on the seventh day, the child died. His servants were afraid to tell him for fear he wouldn't recover from such a great loss. But when David discovered the child had died, he got up, washed himself, put on lotion, changed his clothes, and then went to worship God. His servants were perplexed. They asked him, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!"

Then, out of David's broken spirit he spoke words of wisdom, healing words for all those who have lost loved ones, particularly parents who have lost a child. He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." David believed in the resurrection! 

Jesus, the King of the Universe, was broken---he was crushed for our iniquities (Is. 53:5) so that in our brokenness---broken dreams, broken relationships, broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken minds---we can fall at our Savior's feet, and in that vulnerable position of collapse, acknowledge that God is the only way to get back up and be put together. 

David's confession of brokenness can be ours too; one that God will not despise. He will not turn us away. The Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn 1:9).

At the beginning of FunArts camp, the children are excited to get started on their mosaics. By midweek some of them grow weary and just want to be done with their project. But I encourage them, "Keep at it. Don't give up. It will be worth it! Because when your mosaic is complete, not only will it be beautiful, you will be proud of your accomplishment!" They always do and are always glad they stuck with it!

God's children can also grow weary in the process of being made into the image of Christ---after all, there's so much for him to do! We too may sometimes feel like giving up. Yet Jesus reminds us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Mt. 11:28-30 (NIV). When God is finished writing our story, and we see him face to face, we will be grateful that we didn't give up. It will be worth it!

Prayer: Father God, thank you for healing, and continuing to heal my brokenness. Thank you for placing me into a mosaic of believers. Help me to speak words of wisdom and healing to other broken people. Amen.

(For your meditation, read Romans 12.)

At the time of this writing, the children created a Fire-Dove mosaic, symbolizing the power of God--through the Holy Spirit--who works in us (arranging our broken pieces) to will and to act according to his good purpose (Php. 2:13). 

Learn to create a Fire-Dove Mosaic!

Copyright 2013 - S.A. Keith

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