By Tim Greenwood
You and I both have heard sermons about how 'Brokenness' is 'good' for us. How it softens our hearts and makes us sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit and how it develops spiritual maturity and character. And Psalms 51:17 is always quoted to support this teaching.

Psa. 51:17(KJV) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Let's talk about this scripture. The reason this scripture is always used is because it is the ONLY scripture in the Bible that 'seems' to say anything 'positive' about brokenness. I believe that a teaching should be based upon 'two or three witnesses' of scripture - but there are no others.

The first part of the scripture says: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. There is only one other scripture that refers to a 'broken spirit.' Let's take a look.

Prov. 17:22(KJV) A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Hmmm… something doesn't seem right. Well, something isn't right - but we'll get to that in a moment.

I believe that God is a GOOD God - All the time. And that He sent Jesus (among other reasons) to "…preach the gospel to the poor; … heal the brokenhearted, … preach deliverance to the captives, … recovering of sight to the blind, (and) to set at liberty them that are bruised…"

God wants you WHOLE, complete, nothing missing nothing broken! Physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, etc… That's what I believe - and the scriptures back it up. WHOLE is the complete opposite of broken.

Mat. 9:22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Mat.12:13 Then saith He to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

Mat. 14:36 And besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Mat. 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Mat. 15:31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

Acts 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

And this is without getting into the Greek breakdowns of the words "salvation" and "prosperity" - which also include the meaning WHOLE!

Next let's look at the second half of the scripture, which says: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

The sister scripture to this one is Psalms 34:18-19.

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

Psa. 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

What these passages are saying is simply this: God does not and will not condemn you for being broken in some way - but He does NOT want you to STAY broken!
The Hebrew word used here for the word "contrite" does not mean humble - but it rather means "crushed to powder."
The state of brokenness, being crushed and oppressed is NOT from God. However, God will NEVER leave you or forsake you. He will stay near you, and if you let Him, He will deliver you out of it!
In vs. 19 it says that these things are afflictions! BAD THINGS, not good things!

So then what's wrong with Psalms 51:17? When ever I come across a scripture that seems to conflict with several others, I dig into the original language to see what other definitions are available. When I did this here, I found it very interesting.

The King James English reads:
Psa. 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

In Hebrew the scripture reads:
zebach . 'elohiym . shabar . ruwach. Shabar . Dakah . leb . 'elohiym . bazah
… and can also be translated as follows:

Sacrifice to God is the birthing of the Spirit. - or - Sacrifice to God is the quenching of anger.
A humble heart God will not condemn. - or - A broken/crushed/oppressed heart God will not condemn.

As you can see, the ONLY scripture that is used to support a doctrine of "Christian Brokenness" is highly likely to have been at least partly mistranslated and wholly misunderstood.

Now I know what people MEAN when they say that a Christian should become "broken." They really mean bringing the body (flesh) and soul (mind, will and emotions) under the control of the spirit. And that IS completely scriptural! But that process, starting with the renewal of the mind, is a process of becoming WHOLE!

You (the real you) are a spirit, you have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and you live in a body (your Earth suit). When the Bible refers to your "heart" it's not referring to your "blood pump."

In the Bible the HEART is the combination of your SPIRIT and SOUL. When you are born-again, your SPIRIT is renewed but your SOUL is not. Therefore even the born-again Christian can still have a broken HEART. It was completely broken, but now that your SPIRIT is made new, your HEART is half way healed.

Now through the Word of God, The Name of Jesus and the broken body of Jesus we are instructed to begin the process of the renewal of the mind. Once that process is under way, the will and emotions will follow. The further you progress through this renewal process, the more WHOLE your heart becomes.
God doesn't BREAK you so that He can make you WHOLE any more than you would break your child's leg so that you could nurse him back to health! That's sick!

Christian WHOLENESS and "Christian Brokenness" are completely incompatible. Every Christian should fully appropriate EVERYTHING that Jesus has done for us to make us WHOLE in every way. Even though some Christians may remain broken in some areas of their life, no Christian should be content in remaining broken. And NO Christian should EVER seek to become broken in any way.

Now I've just touched the surface of this issue. I could and just may write a whole book about this. This doctrine is really a small part of a larger doctrine - "The Suffering Doctrine," about which I HAVE written an e-book, which can be read both on the TGM website ( and on ( It is also available as a cassette audio-teaching series from our online catalog ( TGM