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A Bruised Reed, He Will Not Break (Isaiah 42:1-4)

Posted by Pastor Tan Meng Geok on

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional thoughtfully penned by leaders in DUMC arising from their daily devotions. The devotional’s title, “Our Best Thought” is taken from the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” as a reference to God: “Thou my best thought, by day or by night.” Publishes on Sundays.


Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 
He will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.


The Book of Isaiah can be dated to Israel’s exile in Babylon. The Babylonians defeated Israel. Their temples were destroyed, national treasures plundered, and even the Judahite survivors were marched off to Babylon in chains.  The defeat was devastating and absolute. There was utter destruction of Israel’s political, social, and religious way of life that they had known for centuries.

During a time when God seems to have abandoned His people, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah that is to come. God uses Isaiah to remind His people that in spite of this moment of defeat in history, God has a larger purpose.

He will send a spirit-filled person, not a conqueror nor a warrior, to bring about a course in history that will bring justice. Even a bruised reed, he will not break (v. 3) – indicating someone who is gentle to the lost and the least, who is revealed in the New Testament as Jesus.  


When I read the passage, my mind immediately thought of Matthew 12:16-21, where Jesus quoted the exact same passageHe is the fulfillment of it.

Furthermore, in Luke 5:31, Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the Law that it is not the healthy who needed a doctor but the sick. The Pharisees tended to judge harshly those who broke the law, whereas Jesus in contrast sought to gently mend those who are broken. Those who came to Jesus tend to be the poor and the sick.

Even if was just a “smouldering wick”, Jesus would not snuff it out. He would tend it until it is “reignited”. If anyone has just a small spark of hunger for God, if we go to Jesus, He will fan it into a flame – a flame of faith.

I grew up in a family where my grandma did ancestral worship, but the rest of the family were quite irreverent in matters of the divine. Money was the most important thing in my family, in place of God. But God turned this tragic family into a family with hope.

One day a relative was diagnosed by his doctor of having only 2 years to live. A family friend brought a pastor to pray for him, and he miraculously lived on for another ten years. His doctor said it was a miracle because there is no medical explanation.

As a result, my grandma in her late eighties was baptised, and my parents accepted the Lord. I begin to seek God, and at 20 years old, I accepted the Lord.

 A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

Thirty-nine years on, this bruised reed and smouldering wick is a zone pastor in DUMC to answer God’s call in this season in my life. Jesus turned what would have been a family tragedy into a family with hope. 


Lord, thank You for your grace and mercy upon my life.

Having experienced you in my life, help me to be obedient to answer your call to:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”.

Matthew 28:19, 20

May I not turn to the right nor the left but resolutely focus my eyes on You, so that the obedience from my heart will allow Your plans and purpose in my life to be fulfilled.

I pray too for many who are tragically lost, that You will turn your face and show Your favour so that they too may be found by You.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Pastor Meng Geok is Zone Pastor for PJ South 2.

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional that follows DUMC's Bible Reading Plan. Posts on Sundays.