“I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel” (Psalm 31:12).
Psalm 31 is a song of trust. David, who was in constant danger and trouble, always implicitly trusted in God. This is a very encouraging Psalm as a whole. It speaks of great victories and trust in the Lord. It speaks of God strengthening the heart and preserving the faithful. However, in the middle of this encouraging Psalm, we find some verses that that are not very encouraging. David said, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel” (Psalm 31:12).
If we live long enough we will feel this way sometimes, as though we are a broken vessel, shattered and broken by the cares of this life. In Bible times, when a piece of pottery was fired, sometimes it didn’t turn out right or was broken either intentionally or accidentally. However, the broken pieces were not thrown away, as there were many uses for broken pottery.
Broken pottery pieces, called “potsherds,” were used to write on. They would take ink or a stylus and write on a sherd instead of using an expensive piece of papyrus. God can take the painful “messages” of your life and use them to encourage and help someone else.
They also made pathways out of broken pieces of pottery. When the pieces were laid in mortar they made a nice path for someone to walk on. Your broken pieces may be used to make a path to guide someone else.
When a wall became cracked, they could not fill it with whole pots or bricks, so they took broken pieces to fill the gaps and would stucco over them. Your broken pieces may allow you to stand in the gap for someone else.
Broken pottery pieces were used to scrape the wounds of the afflicted. When Job was afflicted with sore boils from the top of his head to the sole of his feet, the Bible says, “And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes” (Job 2:8). Perhaps the Lord will use your broken pieces to help relieve someone who is hurting.
They also used broken pieces to dip water. The wounded out yonder on the battlefield cannot hold a canteen, and a well would drown them! Yet, you could take that broken vessel and use the pieces like a spoon or small cup to dip a little water for the wounded soldier. Your broken pieces may be used of God to refresh someone in their time of deepest need.
So what’s the bottom line? If you feel as though you are a broken vessel, do not throw the pieces away! There are blessings in brokenness! An unknown songwriter expressed it this way:
Pick up the broken pieces, and bring them to the Lord;
Pick up the broken pieces, trust in His Holy Word.
He will put you back together and make your life complete;
Just place the broken pieces at the Savior’s feet.