Three times in his writings, Solomon mentioned a broken spirit.  He wrote in Proverbs 15:13, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”  He wrote later in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  Also, he wrote in Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”  In all three of these verses, the Hebrew word for ‘broken’ and ‘wounded’ is ‘nake’, which means to be stricken or distressed.  It is referring to someone who has been battered by events in their lives and these have caused them to be depressed and defeated; it is referring to a heart that has been crushed by affliction.  It is by ‘sorrow of the heart’ that someone becomes depressed.  When we focus only on the negative events around us; when we are so occupied with how others treat us, or how life seems so unfair, we will develop a ‘broken spirit’, which in turn will dry up our bones.  This means that a broken spirit can sap all our strength, leaving us weak and sickly.  There is an undeniable connection between our emotional and physical health, and these verses attest to that truth.

Notice how that in two of these verses a ‘broken spirit’ is contrasted with a ‘merry heart.’  This is an important key in understanding how to be healed from a broken spirit.  It is healthy for us to be cheerful.  How can we expect to be cheerful when the world is against us, when our friends forsake us, when we lose loved ones, or when we constantly struggle to support our families?  A merry heart does not deny the ‘negatives’ in our lives, but it does not allow the ‘negatives’ to overtake us and rob us of the joy that the Lord gave us in John 15:11 when He said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

The Lord has directed us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we should be “…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  We should allow the Lord to direct our thoughts.  We should think of the things that He wants us to.  What does the Lord want us to fill our mind with?  Let’s read Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  It is when we obey the Lord and occupy ourselves with these virtuous things that we are able to have merry hearts, full of the joy of the Lord.  Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

There is no need for the believer to continue to live with a broken spirit.  Look to the Lord; occupy yourself with Him; let Him fill you with precious thoughts.  We have the words of David in Psalm 94:19, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”  When our thoughts are of the Lord, He will indeed delight out souls.

Let me point out that if someone suffers from clinical depression, they should seek the help of a medical doctor for proper treatment, along with prayer that the Lord might deliver you from this serious condition.  The Lord tells us in Luke 4:18 that He came to “…heal the brokenhearted.”  Look to Him to heal you, to direct your thoughts to virtuous things and change your broken spirit to a merry heart.  (179.8)