The Long-Suffering of Messiah
Isaiah 42:3-4
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment to truth.…

A passage setting forth the gentleness of the new Prince of Righteousness promised to Israel.


1. Few of nature's forms are more lovely and symmetrical than the tall cane of the reed rising by the marsh or river edge. One of the elements of our pleasure as we look at it, is derived from our sense of its marvellous power of resisting the pressure of the wind or the dashing of the waves. It is one of the triumphs of nature's architecture. Yet let but a rough stroke fall suddenly upon it, and all its glory is abased. Every passing wind only aggravates the injury. Of what good is it henceforth, but to be cut down and cast into the oven! Yet this, which we should esteem reasonable in the husbandman, is precisely what the Messiah does not do with respect to souls that have been similarly injured.

2. The other illustration of the prophet is from the home or the temple. The oil-lamp was one of the most common objects there. The wick fed by the oil is able to sustain a flame which, although feeble, is clear, and sufficient for the small chambers of the poor. The oil, however, is supposed to be exhausted, and the wick is sending forth a weak, smoky, disagreeable light, soon to subside into darkness. Would it not be better, one might ask, to put out such a light altogether than to endure its disagreeable stench, or, all unprepared, find ourselves plunged in darkness? These two images set before us suggestions of what would be reasonable actions on the part of man, when considering merely human ends.These two things are —

1. Types of spiritual states.

2. Suggestions of judicial action.

II. THE ULTIMATE AIM OF HIS FORBEARANCE. "Until He bring forth judgment unto truth." The gentleness of Christ without some such obvious explanation might appear moral indifference, or amiable eccentricity, or insane belief in the inherent goodness of men. This aim gives it an entirely new, a far nobler aspect.

1. To every man is given an opportunity of putting himself right with God. The force of circumstances will be counterbalanced so that the will and affections may work freely; inequalities, opposition, etc., will be neutralised or allowed for in so far as they affect conduct.

2. Judgment will be withheld until the career of man is complete. Good and evil alike will work themselves out. There is a tragic power of evolution latent in all sin. Righteousness, too, is as a seed.

3. The character of this judgment, therefore, will be final and absolute.

(St. J. A. Frere, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

WEB: He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a dimly burning wick. He will faithfully bring justice.

The Compassion of Christ
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