Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalm 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.


MEMORY VERSE: For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! —II Corinthians 7:10-11


CENTRAL THOUGHT: God desires the repentant heart to be broken and sorrowful, not because of the humiliation of being caught, or even for the hardship sin has brought, but because of the broken relationship with Him, the realization of the awful price Jesus paid for our sins and transgressions, and the guilt and shame of disobedience to God’s will.




Psalm 34:18 and Psalm 51:17 “Broken”: shattered; broken in pieces. “Contrite”: crushed; pulverized to powder (also Isaiah 57:15).

Joel 2:12 “Weeping”: continual weeping; an overflowing.

Joel 2:13 “Rend”: to tear [a garment], as a sign of grief or distress.

Zechariah 12:10 “Supplications”: earnest prayer; intreaty for a favor.

II Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow”: sorrow according to God, or what His will approves; what is conformable to His will or desires.




The Psalms and the prophets give us a good picture of the attitude of heart that is pleasing to God when someone sets their heart to seek after Him. David is said to have written Psalm 34 after God delivered him from the Philistines. This incident must have reduced him to the lowly and contrite state of mind that pleased the Lord, and though He is omnipresent, and thus near to each of us at all times, we can access His help more readily when we are broken. “‘The broken in heart’ are those in whom the egotistical, i.e., self-loving life, which encircles its own personality, is broken at the very root; ‘the crushed or contrite in spirit’ are those whom grievous experiences, leading to penitence, of the false eminence to which their proud self- consciousness has raised them, have subdued and thoroughly humbled” (Keil and Delitzsch).

Psalm 51, as we have noted in an earlier lesson, was David’s prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Here David notes, as have Isaiah and other prophets, and even Christ Himself, that God truly does not desire the blood and smoke of animals, sacrificed in a ritual that may not include the heart at all. His real desire is the cry of a heart truly broken and done with its self-reliance and arrogance.

Joel’s prophecy possibly contains a double meaning; literally of devouring locusts and drought, but also figuratively of military destruction upon Israel and Judah. The four different kinds of insects described in Joel have been speculated to represent four different times of attacks upon the Israelites by the Chaldeans; four different kingdoms that came against Israel— Assyrians and Chaldeans, Medes and Persians, Greeks, and Romans; or four different Assyrian/ Chaldean kings. To prepare their hearts for repentance, the prophet called for a solemn assembly, a time of restraint, of total abstinence from food or secular employment; and the elders and representatives of the people were to gather at the temple to cry for mercy.

Zechariah’s prophecy takes in the time of the crucifixion of the Messiah, directing us to the weeping and repentance of the people in response to Peter’s message to the crowd after Pentecost, when he proved to them that they had crucified the Holy One sent from God.

Jesus spoke to the multitude about the Kingdom of Heaven and the blessed ones who would be able to enter. He began by describing the meek, the poor in spirit, and those who mourn as being the ones who could receive the kingdom. This mourning specifically means the brokenness one must feel before God because of the conviction of his lost condition before Him.

Paul also described that brokenness as the sorrow that is “godly” or after God.

—Angela Gellenbeck




  1. The Psalmist said God was ______ to the repentant, broken spirit; Isaiah said God would ________ with the broken and contrite person. Describe what these terms mean.
  2. What were Joel’s requirements for seeking the Lord?
  3. Joel said, “Who knows if God will change His mind?” What other group of people (in a previous lesson) said this same thing?
  4. The mourning Zechariah describes is the emotion a parent has for the sufferings and death of an __________ _______.
  5. “The sorrow of the world worketh death.” What does this mean?




The mourner’s bench—a rejected concept in many churches. Yet we can see by the Scripture that godly sorrow is a vital element of turning back to God. Why is it so? What is the importance of shedding tears before God?

Certainly it’s not just tears that count with God. There are pretended tears—dramatic, theatrical performances that don’t involve heart-repentance at all. But surely we can grasp the meaning of brokenness before God. Coming to the end of myself; my endeavors, my schemes, my well-crafted religious pretenses. Realizing how utterly undone and shameful and needy I am and reaching the place where I’m ready to surrender to God’s requirements. Comprehending the depth of my personal rebellion and sin against God and the great love He had for me in sending His only Son to take my place. I was the one who should die. It was my sin that nailed Him to the cross.

Reader, have you ever reached this place?

—Angela Gellenbeck




“And he [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9 ).

Several points can be observed from this passage. The Pharisee presented himself and prayed while the publican stood afar off, not lifting his eyes. The Pharisee was thankful that he was not a sinner while the publican admitted that he was a sinner. The Pharisee told of all of his good deeds while the publican smote upon his breast. The Pharisee prayed thus with himself while the Lord heard the prayer of the publican. The Pharisee exhibited pride, while the publican displayed humility.

When we can fully recognize who we are, then we can understand that we are in desperate need of God’s mercy and salvation. “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee” (Luke 14:10). It is always best to present yourself before the Lord, to the world, and to each other in true humility.

—LaDawna Adams