“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3
Heals = râphâh – lit. to mend (by stitching); fig. to cure, heal, repair, make whole
Binds = châbash – to wrap firmly
I love the word pictures in this verse. The word for heal here literally means to stitch or to mend, so when it says God heals the brokenhearted, it means He takes our hearts, and He sews the pieces back together; He carefully, meticulously stitches the broken seams, the tattered and torn places of our hearts.
I don’t sew, but having watching my sister sew (she’s amazing at it!), I know it requires precision and accuracy—it cannot be rushed. And to stitch, to make repairs by hand, is an even slower process. So this work that God is doing when He is healing our broken hearts: it’s careful, it’s calculated—and it’s slow.
But the end result is beautiful because within this same word, râphâh, it means to make whole. So He doesn’t just start stitching and mending and then set us aside to work on someone else. No, He carefully holds our hearts in His hand, and with needle and thread, He sews, He stitches, He mends our brokenness—until we are whole, until we are healed.
The other verb here—to bind—is equally as tender. Literally, this means to wrap up, and the Lord gave me this beautiful picture of taping an ankle that’s been broken or sprained. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to practice wrapping someone’s ankle (or even harder—your own!), such as for an athletic event, but let me tell you, it’s not easy! Those who are skilled in taping ankles will tell you it takes a lot of practice. And what I’ve learned is that there is a definite pattern and technique. You can’t just wrap the tape like so—you have to follow an order, a pattern so that the ankle is tight and secure. Wrapping of this kind is an art.
And in the same way, the Lord takes our wounds, and again, He skillfully and knowingly wraps them; He binds them up in the perfect way, to keep the wound covered, secure, and in place. His binding of our wounds is His protection. He doesn’t leave our wounds gaping open. No, He tenderly wraps them as He knows how and allows our wounds to heal under His protective covering. This, too, takes time.
This week the Lord showed me that too often I guard my heart, even from Him. I try to protect it on my own because if I really risk it, if I really “go for it,” I could get hurt.
I take soft risks. Calculated risks. Risks I know I can win. Ask anyone who has ever “bet” me: I only bet when I know I’m right, when I know I can win.
Last weekend we went to a parenting conference (even though, yes, we’re not yet parents). The whole message was incredible, but one thing that really spoke to my heart was how we can teach our children to fail; if they never take risks—and risk the chance that they’ll fail—how will they ever succeed?
I’ve said it in another post that I think my parents did a great job teaching us how to fail—but of my siblings, I’m the most reserved risk-taker, which means I have the greatest fear of failing.
Blame it on being the youngest, or being an introvert, or being extremely analytical—whatever the reason: the truth is I like to play it safe. But my Daddy—my heavenly Father, who wrote the textbook on parenting, wants me to succeed, and so, I must also learn how to risk…and maybe even fail.
What the Lord showed me is that I play it safe with my heart, with my faith. If I really believe, if I fully give in, then it might not happen; I might be hurt and disappointed. And so I hold back.
But the beauty of râphâh and châbash is that He holds my heart—and because He mends the brokenhearted, because He binds up the wounded, I am safe and free to risk it all. This is why the psalmists declare over and over that He is our safe place, our hiding place, our shelter, our protection, our covering.
He holds me and secures me and covers me and protects me—so that I can be free to fully believe Him, unrestricted, uninhibited. Because to really believe Him for the desires of our heart—whatever that desire may be—is always a risk, and it’s costly. But, really, it’s a safe bet—even if it doesn’t feel like it:
Because He is for me.
Because He is with me.
Because in Him, I am safe and covered.
And in Him, I am free to risk it all because He’s got my heart securely in His hand.