Wednesday, December 31, 2008

bruised reeds and smoking flax

Today is weird scripture Wednesday, and Isaiah is a wonderfully unfailing source of strangeness.

Isaiah 42:3

A bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not
quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Here, Isaiah uses reeds and wicks as metaphors for people. A reed is, in scripture,
the emblem of weakness,
so a bruised reed is really weak.

From this verse, I learned that:

• we are not cast off because of our imperfections-

• the Lord wants to save us because we are dear to him.

Lydia Mountford wrote:

”A bruised reed he shall not break”

A shepherd spent much time alone with his sheep in
desert solitudes; and his reed pipe, a frail little instrument
of two reeds bound together, hollowed out and with holes
on the side, helped him to pass the hours cheerfully. He
learned to play many little tunes on it. It was very easily
broken and if it fell and was crushed by a careless foot, its
music was stilled. It was of almost no value – and a new
one could easily be made and the bruised pipe could be
left by the wayside to rot.

But the shepherd had a sentimental feeling about it;
he would not let it go, not at all. He picked up the
crushed reed, and tenderly repaired it, binding up its
broken parts, until once more he drew from it the
music he dearly loved. The sound after mending was
sometimes a bit out of tune, but that didn’t bother
him. He felt that it made the music more interesting.

What a picture this is of his children, sometimes
bruised and broken by sin, of no apparent value, lying
by the wayside. We are shown God’s love and concern
and His desire to restore each broken life.

“The smoking flax shall he not quench.”

Here in this
Scripture we see a little clay lamp, with its wick
floating in an hour’s supply of olive oil. The oil has
burned out, the wick smokes. We would probably say,
“Throw it out, get a fresh wick; this one smokes and
it is of no value.” But the owner does not agree to
that, “The old will do, all that is needed is oil,
then the wick will burn as brightly as ever.”

I know that when I have been short on the spiritual “oil” required for
shining, I have been the source of my own smoky environment.

A modern example might be like a candle that has to be trimmed
each time before it is re-lighted to prevent smoking. Perhaps as
human ‘candles’ sent into the world to show forth the Lord’s light, we can do our part by cheerfully “submitting to all that the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon us” especially when some trimmings might hurt our pride.


  1. This isn't as great as chatting with you in person...but I'll take it!

    You always remind us of the Savior's love for us. Thank you:)

  2. I mean to's just makes me miss hearing you tell me in person. ;)

  3. I wish to have that privilege one of these days.
    Donna, you don't know me yet...I was given this blog by Joanne Miller, my friend's Mike Mother.
    It's a long story....but I am so grateful to be able to read your words and the thoughts of your heart. You and Joanne have come to life for some very special purposes and I know you both are answers to prayers. I have felt many times as the broken reed spoken so poetically of by the Prophet Isaiah...thank you.
    Hopefully we'll get to meet the meanwhile I will continue to read your blog and to feel the Spirit through you.
    Giulia Petrollini Rogers

  4. Donna that was a wonderful way to liken that scripture to ourselves. I'd never thought about it at all until you mentioned it this way.

    Just as an aside, bruised reeds and smoking flax also refer back to Egypt, and can be euphemistic for those things we lean upon that are not strong enough to support us, or are false (including those things set up speficially to misguide us, such as false priests, false doctrines, and bad government).

  5. I often feel like a bruised reed. Thank you for teaching me that God doesn't want to condemn me. He desires to heal, teach, and show me. Understanding and feeling this kind of love is new to me.