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January 16, (Day # 16) – Bruised Reeds; Smoldering Wicks



Our Scripture readings today address three main issues that should challenge our thoughts. First, what began as a beautiful love story between Jacob and Rachel back in Genesis 29 has quickly deteriorated into a relationship contaminated by the sins of anger, bitterness, selfishness, jealousy, and greed. We read that “Jacob heard that Laban’s sons" were talking about Jacob “gaining all” Laban’s wealth, and he also noticed that "Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been” (31:1-2). At this point, the LORD intervened and told Jacob to “go back to the land of” his fathers (verse 3). Rachel and Leah feel “like foreigners” in their own home (verse 15). Jacob decides to leave; Rachel steals her father’s household gods, and the text says outright, “Jacob deceived Laban” (verse 20). The whole family seems fraught with accusations, problems, fighting, and sins to the extent that one wonders if any reconciliation is possible. The anger and bitterness are worthy of all-out family war. “Then God came to Laban and warned, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob’” (verse 24). Laban threatens Jacob (verse 29); Jacob is angry with Laban (verse 36); and they both argue over what belongs to whom (verse 43). Finally, Laban calls for a covenant between them (verse 44), and then - calling on God to witness between them - the two agree not to cross over “the heap and the pillar” (verses 51-53). It is a shame that family relationships can originate as a magnificent love story, but then, in a few short years, depreciate into an insufferable scandal of tabloid gossip. God never meant it to be this way. But Jacob’s worst nightmare (i.e., Esau) has yet to begin.


Second, we come today to the last eight verses of Psalm 9 where David continues his imprecation against “the persecutions of his enemies” (verse 13). He must have been feeling like a “smoldering wick” that day (cf., Matthew 12:20 and Isaiah 42:3), for he asks God to “lift him up from the gates of death” (verse 13). Thankfully, “the LORD is known by His justice” (verse 16), and “He will not let man triumph” (verse 19). Interestingly, David talks about the “nations that forget God,” but God ensures that the nations always “know they are but men” (verse 20).


Third, in Matthew 12:20 - the words of our Lord, quoting Isaiah 42:3, ring true: “a bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Personally, I sometimes become overwhelmed to the point of tears when I meditate on the meaning of these verses - that our God knows and realizes “that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14). I am so thankful for that. Sometimes I feel like a bruised reed or a smoldering wick – that tiny, surviving bit of life’s flame - so close to being snuffed out. We live with and within the weaknesses of our flesh - which is often the reason for our bruises. Truly, we have nothing of value or merit to offer Him in exchange for our souls, and if we’re honest, we admit that we fully deserve to be broken, snuffed out, destroyed, and consumed (Lamentations 3:22-24). Yet God’s mercy is new every morning, and He has withheld from us our just reward. He has granted us His gracious pardon - a truth beyond our comprehension! May we ever praise Him for this!


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