May 18, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“The bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.”
Broken bones! What do they mean and what is their significance? We need to first consider the context of Psalm 51, and then go back to the first mention of broken bones in the Scripture.
What then is the setting for Psalm 51? The title of the Psalm reminds us that it concerns David’s grievous sin. The psalm itself details how God dealt with David to bring him to repentance. It was a dark day in David’s otherwise bright history. Sin had been added to sin. David continued on as though nothing had happened. God could not permit it in one He so loved, much less in a leader among His people.
The details of 2Samuel 12 are well known. In light of David’s background, his imagery is that of a shepherd and his sheep. A willful, straying sheep might require, as a last resort, to have a bone broken so that it could not stray; in light of its broken bone, it would need to be carried and brought close to the shepherd. David is rehearsing how God had to deal with him in order to restore him. He likens it to God having, as a Shepherd, broken his bones, causing him to stop in his willful and sinful way. This was all with a view to restoration.
Likewise, in Exodus 12, when God was giving instructions concerning the Passover lamb, He stipulated that no bone was to be broken. That which foreshadowed His Son was to be marked by the absence of any bone being broken.
Taking these two together and fast forwarding to John 19:36, the typology and theology are a cause for worship. A broken bone was a sign of self-will which needed to be restrained or broken. In our Lord Jesus Christ, there was no self-will; there was never rebellion. Never did He need to be restored, corrected, or restrained in His path. He is altogether lovely.
- The first mention of “bones” in Scripture is actually with Adam: “Bone of my bones.” Thus, to be technical, the first mention of bones is linked with a bride. Could that also be an indication of why no “bone” was to be broken?
- The next mention of bones in Scripture is with Joseph and the carrying of his “bones” up to Canaan. He does not specify his body, even though he was likely mummified in Egypt. If “bones” continues to speak of a man’s will, what does this say about Joseph and His surrender to the will of God under every circumstance? How does he foreshadow Christ?
- Psalm 51:17 reminds us of other broken things. Did the Lord Jesus have a broken spirit and heart? Or would it be more Scriptural to say that He was poor in spirit and meek and lowly in heart?