“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”Isaiah 42:3
The prophet is writing about the Messiah in Isaiah 42. He notes that in his justice, the Messiah does not break a bruised reed or snuff out a faint wick.
A bruised reed? A faintly burning wick? What is this about?
It seems a bit random unless you know about the process of making linen cloth. Linen is made from flax. Flax stems have long fibers inside of a hard, outer bark that must be broken off and separated from the fibers. The stems are allowed to soften in the field before being beaten and combed to crack the bark and free the fibers for spinning. The process is called “scutching.” If you break the stems while scutching them, the fibers will get broken, too, making them less useful for cloth. So, when you refine flax, you bruise the reeds without breaking them.
I think the bruised reed is a metaphor for us. The Messiah may crack our hard outer shell, but he doesn’t break us.
As for a faint wick, one that has been poorly trimmed or contains impurities, it will give your lamp plenty of smoke. but little light. Quenching it might be logical, but if you are the little light, that might seem extreme. Thankfully, he won’t quench even a very dim little light!
(Sing it with me: “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let is shine…”)
Here is a true kind of justice for the ages. No matter how bruised you are, he won’t break you and toss you away as worthless. No matter how little your light, he values it. The Chosen One knows you are useful and he’s got a place for you in his kingdom.