When you think of broken people what comes to mind? An alcoholic that dulls his or her pain by throwing back a fifth of this, or a twelve pack of that? What about a drug addict that just cannot seem to break the need for another hit of meth or whatever drug they use to cope with life’s challenges? Is this what brokenness looks like? What do you do with a broken person?
Most of us would attempt to help them in one way or another. Some of us may ignore them to their detriment and our comfort. But what does God think of the broken?
According to David in Psalm 51:17 God accepts them. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” To understand this verse, we must first understand the larger context.
David, who was the greatest and most beloved king in the history of Israel, was also a great warrior and an equally great sinner. One season of war, when he should have been out with his troops, he stayed at home and looked out over Jerusalem. When he did, he observed a beautiful woman bathing on her roof; which was a custom of the time. He sent for her.
Well one thing led to another and she became pregnant with the king’s child. What makes it worse is that this young woman was also a young wife. Her husband was a warrior in the king’s army.
To make a long story short, David set this man up to be killed in action on the battlefield. He then made her one of his wives. All this, to hide his sin from both God and man. He failed on both counts.
A man named Nathan was called upon by God to present a story before the king about a man who had sinned before God. Nathan did as he was told, and when David angrily declared that whoever had sinned so is worthy of death, the prophet Nathan pointed at him saying “you are that man.”
David was broken by the magnitude of his own evil. He wrote the famous Psalm 51as a result of his confrontation with the prophet of God. David did not and could not sneak his sin past God; maybe before the people but not God.
The King of Israel could’ve reacted in various ways, but David had a heart for God. He fell to his knees and pleaded for forgiveness, and the sweet Psalter of Israel sang the song of Psalm 51.
As he processes his sin before God through agony of spirit, some of the most beautiful words to come as a result of sin flow out of a heart that misses God’s presence.
Yes, David could have “done” a lot of things in an attempt to please God and get himself out of trouble, but he chose to humble himself before God and confess his sin against God to restore the fellowship he had with the living God.
His words reach their crescendo in verse 17. But what does he mean by these words?
Three key words are “Broken”, “Contrite” and “Despise.”
David had come to realize that he did not “have it all together.” In fact, life as he knew it became unraveled in an instant, leaving him broken. He had grown proud and set himself up as an idol in place of God.
There was no sacrifice or good deed powerful enough to expunge David’s sin. So the earthly king approached the King of kings, and saw clearly, maybe for the first time, that he was nothing without fellowship with God. David now destroyed the last idol in his life (himself) that kept him from experiencing the intimate life with God that the Creator promised to those who loved Him.
David was not only “broken” but he was also “contrite” or crushed because of his sin against God. A note here is that all sin is against God as verse four spells out. When one is contrite, one is emotionally crushed by the weight of their sin. They have no way out, with God being the only relief for their intense guilt.
Why only God? Because He will not “despise” the one who comes to Him “broken” and “contrite.” When you “despise” something it means that you accord little worth to something. So God does not treat our brokenness lightly, but rather accepts us when we call out to Him; even after we have broken His heart and severed our fellowship with Him.
The first letter that John the apostle wrote to the churches in modern day Turkey states the same thing in different words. John wrote: “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Maybe you feel 10,000 steps away from God as you read this and you just can’t seem to break free from the sin that has held you down. You may have been consumed by this sin for so long that you feel God cannot possibly hear you anymore, or worse, care. But He does hear you, and through the grace of His mercy, those 10,000 steps become merely one…a step back to God.
Come to Him now, though smashed to smithereens and crushed beyond recognition, and you will find a God who will forgive and restore. He bids you “come as you are” and believe in what Jesus did upon the cross and you will find rest for your sinful and weary soul. He will make you brand new. Lay down your pride and accept the reality that God truly gave his Son to rescue the “broken.”
Many are familiar with the concept of revisionist history — the rewriting of past events to reflect a particular bias — but there is a contemporary example that receives far too little attention in our American media, that being the history of Jews in the Middle East.
Palestinian apologists have made a major industry out of creating a past for themselves by distorting the archeological record. What cannot be distorted is ignored, and what cannot be ignored has, in some cases, been destroyed. Not surprisingly, this particular form of historical reconstruction invariably finds the lowly Jew to be an interloper in the Middle East — not only now, but throughout all of discernable history.
One such apologist, Mr. Maen Rashid Areikat, “honored” our fair city of Omaha, Nebraska recently when he spoke at the invitation of the Global Studies Conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Mr. Areikat is the director-general at the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department and a close advisor of Mahmoud Abbas. He is presently the chief representative of the PLO delegation to the United States.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently described Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He might wish to apply that description to Areikat, a man for whom the phrase may well have been coined.
Mr. Areikat’s message is a simple one. Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians and, by extension, to Islam. Of course, his message has far fewer sharp edges when he delivers it to non-Muslims. He adopts a folksy, world-weary tone when calling for a Palestinian state, as if he has been single-handedly standing up to the recalcitrant Israeli leadership, and while desperate for help, he remains too humble to ask.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last year, Areikat presented the case that a Palestinian state is in Israel’s best interests. He championed the preferred narrative of the anti-Israeli left with a deftness born of mindless repetition, repeating the long-debunked argument that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is no stronger than that of the Palestinians. He goes on to contrast the “brutal” Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza against the Palestinian Authority’s altruistic efforts to normalize relations.
When he is not as guarded in his speech, Areikat reveals the white bone of Islamic inflexibility. Asked in an interview if the Jews ever had a Temple in Jerusalem, he demurred, saying only, “I’m not an historian.”
When pressed, he doubled down on his newly minted understanding of history, asserting that Jews were never part of Jerusalem — that the “Jewishness” of a place known for millennia as the “City of David” is in fact a myth, despite literally thousands of years of archeological evidence putting the lie to his self-serving construct.
While the concept of a historically non-Jewish Jerusalem is increasing in popularity among the anti-Semitic left, it remains curious that Arabs continue to demand control over Jerusalem, when it’s abundantly clear from the Koran itself that neither Allah nor Mohammed ever intended it for Muslims in the first place. As far as the Koran is concerned, Muslims have no more claim to Jerusalem than Jews have to Medina.
Jewish authority over Jerusalem should come as no surprise to Islamic scholars. In Surah 2:144-147, the Koran describes Allah’s gift of Mecca to Mohammed. In this passage, we find Mohammed pouting that he had been mocked by the Jews for making use of their city, Jerusalem, as a focus of worship. He didn’t deny Jewish authority over Jerusalem; he simply fumed that Islam had no place of its own — an unfortunate situation that Mohammed (er…I mean Allah!) moved to remedy posthaste.
From the very beginning, Mohammed appropriated much of Jewish and Christian tradition for inclusion in his new religion, but Islam was not yet complete, as it lacked a “Holy City” — a deficit that spawned a sixth-century version of “keeping up with the Joneses,” if you will.
According to Islamic tradition, Allah sent the angel Gabriel to “re-orient” Mohammed during prayers, pointing him toward Mecca. From a purely logistical standpoint, early Muslims could count themselves lucky that Mohammed assumed that Allah meant to give them Mecca and not, say, Zanzibar, which lay in the same direction, only a scant two thousand miles farther.
The point being, not only did Allah and his prophet Mohammed show clear deference for the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, but this reality was confirmed and continued under “Omar the Conqueror,” Mohammed’s successor and the most powerful and influential caliph in Islamic history.
While Omar is widely known as the conqueror of Jerusalem, what is not so well-known is that after he conquered the city he promptly repopulated Jerusalem with Jews, repatriating them from the Arabian Peninsula, providing an ironic prefiguration of the establishment of the modern state of Israel centuries later.
Clearly, Omar felt that Jerusalem was a city for the Jews and encouraged their residence in a homeland they hadn’t seen since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Omar constructed a small mosque in Jerusalem, allowing him the ability to maintain the spiritual health of the Muslim garrisons left to defend Jerusalem from the Romans, but otherwise granted Jews authority over their spiritual and ancestral home. Omar, successor of Mohammed, believed that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem was absolute, transcending five centuries of exile.
All this brings us full circle to Mr. Areikat, and his creative revisionism of long-established historical record. In the spirit of fairness, the level of silliness that has come to hallmark the Islamic attempts to write themselves into a history they themselves never experienced cannot be laid solely at the feet of Areikat. He simply parrots the narrative du jour, embellishing as needed to tailor the story to his audience.
To the uninitiated, Areikat’s words have a soothing quality, coaxing a long-ailing sense of hope from the listener, stirring a belief that at long last they may have encountered an authentic negotiating partner. It is important for us to realize, however, that Areikat is powerless without the hope harbored by non-Muslims that perhaps an acknowledgment of his viewpoint may herald a break in the present impasse.
It is the sanitized version of Maen Rashid Areikat our students heard speak in Omaha on the 3rd of October, 2013. It is Areikat’s revision of history that they carried away with them, greatly misinforming their view of the Mid-East conflict.
It’s regrettable that the students didn’t learn the unedited plan for the Middle East sought by Areikat — the version that declares any future Palestinian state must be “Jew-free,” requiring the forced removal of all Jews as a condition of Palestinian sovereignty.
Despite his rhetoric, perhaps even Areikat himself senses the weakness of his own argument. When asked about the decline of social interactions between Jew and Arab, he lets slip a glimpse behind the veils of obfuscation and fantasy that have characterized the “history” of the “Palestinian people.”
I remember when I traveled to Europe in the late ’70s, and to the United States in the early ’80s, yes, we thought of ourselves as Palestinians, but we were traveling with Jordanian passports. Publicly we are Jordanians, but deep inside we are Palestinians.
Therein lies the truth Areikat himself has tried so hard to conceal: there is no such thing as a “Palestinian.”
The Global Faith Institute