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  • Writer's pictureCandice Watters

Crushed for Our Joy (Proverbs 17:9, 22)

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. ²²A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:9, 22

What connects these two proverbs? Could it be that the love seeker, the one who covers, rather than takes, an offense is the one with a joyful heart? Think about someone you admire for putting others ahead of himself, for being quick to forgive, for refusing to gossip and instead speaking commendably about others. He's the sort who pivots conversation rather than indulging in complaining about something hurtful that was done to him. His joyful heart seems to overflow with grace that allows him to let wrongs he's suffered go. He's not embittered or burdened by past offenses. Might this same man be the sort whose bones are strong?

The Bible is full of references to a person’s bones. It describes how they’re affected by our attitudes and relationships, and how the health of our bodies can be a physical manifestation of what’s going on in our souls. Before orthopedists and x-rays could see and treat our skeletons, Solomon warned that “a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” 

It’s not just a crushed or depressed spirit that’s of concern. Elsewhere he says, “envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30) and a shameful wife is like “rottenness” in her husband’s bones (Proverbs 12:4). The OT saints may not have had the benefits of modern medicine, but they knew wounded bones could be lethal (Psalm 42:10). How much more lethal the sin in such metaphors.

In the second verse of our passage this week, we see both exhortation and warning: pursue joy because it (generally) leads to good health; beware of bitterness and depression because they’ll cause ill effects down to your bones. Long before health and wellness websites touted the physical benefits of a happy heart, Solomon knew the power of joy on the body’s functioning. (Research suggests that positive people are more likely to exercise and “regular physical activity helps build strong bones, increase energy levels, decrease body fat and lower blood pressure.”)

Proverbs is full of observations of what’s typical in our fallen world. In chapter 18 he says, “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (v. 14). Yet for all of the known downsides to depression and grief, who among us can make ourselves joyful or so control our circumstances as to avoid feeling crushed in spirit? If all we had was the book of Proverbs, we might read these verses and despair. But Solomon’s observation is more than a health alert. When read in light of the rest of Scripture, it’s a call to faith. 

It’s likely that David’s son would have seen first hand some of the physical effects of David’s grief and crushing leadership burdens–especially as he was on the run from Solomon’s half-brother, Absalom. And yet David did not try to carry those burdens alone.

Throughout his many temptations to despair he did not give in. Instead, he cried out to the Lord. In just one example he writes, 

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6)

David knew the wisdom of walking in obedience to God: 

Turn away from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears toward their cry. (vv. 14-15)

Despite massive troubles, he entrusted himself to the Lord and took comfort in His presence: 

“the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (v. 18)

The crushed spirit that would have dried out David’s bones, instead drove him to the Lord in dependent prayer. May God use our trials to do the same for us. When you feel weighed down by life’s trials, even to the point of despair, run to the Lord. Do you feel crushed in spirit? Turn to the One of whom Isaiah said:

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10, emphasis added)

When you feel bent down to the point of breaking under life’s burdens, or the weight of your own sin, look to the suffering Servant who is gentle, lowly, and faithful:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:1-3)

Whatever threatens to "dry up your bones," look to Jesus, the great physician. When the cares of your heart are many, let the consolations of the one who was crushed for you cheer your soul. (Psalm 94:19).


For Reflection

  1. Have you thought before about the negative physical side-effects of anxiety, grief, and fear?

  2. When you’re discouraged, anxious, or afraid, ask the Lord to help you cast your cares on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

  3. Give thanks to God that He knows your frame and the number of your days. Ask Him to restore to you the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12).


Candice Watters is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She edits the Fighter Verses blog in between loads of laundry and planning the upcoming VBS for Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. She and her husband Steve blog at


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1 comentario

09 jul

Thank you so much. Your blog post really speaks to me and gives me both hope and encouragement. I know God is using your blog post to speak to me today, and I feel so thankful for His message.

I’ve been struggling with depression for the past 8 months, and have suffered chronic bouts of depression for the past 25 years. I’m a born-again Christian who was saved by faith in God’s Word and feel ashamed every time I fall prey to the Enemy and allow him to cause me to stumble and fall. Despite believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that all my sins have been paid for by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I continue…

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