The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NKJV)
Psalm 34 is a Psalm of David and is a cry out to the Lord for deliverance and protection. David shows that he is poor in spirit throughout this passage. It is interesting to note that this Psalm is said to be written concerning the events of 1 Samuel 21:10-15 when David escaped from King Achish by pretending to be insane. David does not recount his sin of acting to be something other than what he was, but recognizes it was God who delivered him from the situation despite his sin. David, though flawed, was a man poor in spirit and that gives me comfort as I try to live this life Christ has called me to live. In verse two he states, “My soul shall make its boast in the LORD, the humble shall hear of it and be glad.” No boasting in self, but boasting in the Lord God. Self possesses nothing worthy of boasting; it is God, and God only who gets all the praise. Who is it that is glad when God gets the glory due His name? The humble man who is poor in spirit is glad, happy, or blessed, which is what our text in Matthew 5:3 tells us. God’s Word is consistent! Our happiness comes from boasting in the Lord.
The LORD is near. That should be our desire, our hope. God is near to and resides in His people, but it takes one who is poor in spirit to recognize that fact and to take complete comfort in it. When the man poor in spirit sees God is near he can lay down self and let the Lord work as He pleases in a situation to the Believer’s benefit. When we try to solve the problems in our lives we tend to screw it up because we do not have the long-term perspective that only God knows. In Exodus 19:21 Moses instructed the priests who ministered before the LORD to consecrate themselves because they came near the LORD and Leviticus 10:3 shows us the danger of not being poor in spirit, by being prideful, which led to the deaths of the Nadab and Abihu. Numbers 16:1:-40 recounts a rebellion in the wilderness wanderings of some of the Levites where God showed who was able to draw near to The LORD – those who are holy and poor in spirit. Psalm 73:28 tells us it is good to draw near to God, trusting in Him, and declaring His works. Psalm 145:18 indicates to us that those who are near to the Lord call upon him. Jeremiah 30:21 shows us it is by God’s initiative that man draws near to Him.
Those who have a broken heart. God is near to those with a broken heart, in other words, those who are poor in spirit. Those with a broken heart are those who once lived after the self-life believing they were living for their dreams based on their plans. When they are broken they realize that they were not living after something of substance, something life generating, rather they lived in a miserable existence never obtaining the peace we all desire as they gathered more material possessions or personal achievements. When we come to the end of ourselves we come to the beginning of God. Psalm 147:3 reminds us that the Lord will heal the brokenhearted – good news for those poor in spirit. Jesus personally takes upon Himself to fulfill this promise of healing for the brokenhearted in Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18.
Saves such as have a contrite spirit. Deliverance from self comes from being contrite in spirit. Contrite means destruction, a crumbled substance; an object crushed into a powder, or pulverized dust. That is what our self should become when we become sold out for the Lord and become poor in spirit. We need to take a hammer to the self-life and replace the broken life with the God-life. The Lord saves those who have a spirit such as this. We condemn our spirit and the Father graciously fills us with the Holy Spirit, submissive to His will for us. Isaiah 57:15 tells us that the Lord revives the contrite heart; a heart crushed in its selfishness is revived in its godliness. Isaiah 66:2 reminds us that God will look upon the man with a contrite spirit (poor in spirit) and who lives with reverence of His Word. That should be our desire.
Alan Redpath says the following about a broken spirit in The Making of a Man of God:
Do you really desire that God may bring you into victory and blessing today? Then the moment you stand with a broken heart amid the ruins of your self-life, acknowledging the futility of fighting against God; when you turn your eyes upon Jesus and lift your tear-stained face to your wonderful Lord, at that moment He not only lifts you up, but brings you victory and sends you out to pursue your enemies – and His. If you want that in New Testament language, here it is: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” (Romans 7:18). Nobody says that with genuineness until it is spoken with a sob to the throne of God.
Read and pray Psalm 34 in its entirety. Notice the blessings that are available to the person who is poor in spirit. Pray that your desire is to become that person, the person submitted to a loving Father who wants what is best for His child. It will cost you. It will cost you a broken life headed nowhere for the life has God wanted for you: a life of blessing.