Rejoice16.  Rejoice

  “. . . let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.” 

– Psalm 51.8b

I’ve never broken a bone, have you?   The most dramatic bone breaking that I remember came in a Monday Night Football  game (if you’re a fan, you know where I’m going) and Lawrence Taylor of the NY Giants tackled quarterback  Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins and broke his leg, which was captured gruesomely on instant replay.   I can still hear the announcers saying “You might want to look away.”

Of course that was just football.  There are images from history that haunt us.  Images, for instance, of the killing fields of Cambodia with all of those skulls.   Or scenes of bones that were still in people, but just barely, such as with the gaunt survivors of the holocaust or famine victims from the Sudan or elsewhere.   All of those bones speak of suffering, much of it perpetrated by one human being on another.

At the front end of verse 51:8 our psalmist had written “Let me hear joy and gladness” — and now, part B, “let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.”   What a turnabout.  These crushed bones are a poetic expression of how devastated the writer feels under the weight and misery of their misdeeds.  Their bones feel crushed — but that’s not the end.  Now, the psalmist asks the Lord to allow that part of him which is most broken, most reduced, most devastated to not merely move on, not merely forget their sin, but to in fact rejoice.

When we think of a renewal among bones, perhaps you go to that valley that Ezekiel describes.  The prophet wrote, “The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.   He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.   Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.   I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”  (Ezekiel 37:1-6)

Whatever is crushed in us this Lenten season, let us receive the breath of the Lord, and live.


Dear Lord,

Wherever our lives feel most beaten down, most oppressed, most in despair — fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may not just make it from day to day, but rejoice in this gift of life that you’ve graced us with.  But we also pray for others around the world who in their bones feel helpless, hopeless and full of despair.  Give them, this season, cause to sing and dance.  Let them rejoice.