The Bruised Reed Kindle Edition

  • Price: ($.99)
  • Length: 138 pages
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English



Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), the most celebrated of the Puritans of the seventeenth century, published his The Bruised Reed to encourage Christians who have been “bruised” during the course of their lives, when they have failed to obey God perfectly. Sibbes’ treatise provides hope and comfort to hurting hearts by reassuring them God will not “break,” nor cast hopelessly aside the bruised, crushed thing. He will restore it; and yet again, His breath filling it, the melody of joy and health shall be heard therefrom, all the more that the instrument has been restored by the hand which at first made it.


This is my second book I have read written by a Puritan author and another work of acclaim by many. Sibbes follows Matthew’s interpretation of this text, seeing it to be fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 12:18-20). His exposition breaks down into three basic parts: (1) Christ will not break the bruised reed; (2) Christ will not quench the smoking flax; (3) Christ will not do either of these things until he has sent forth judgment into victory. Sibbes explains the main text under these three headings and then intersperses searching application throughout the book.  In his book The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, the Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes provides a tenderhearted, Christ-exalting exposition and application of Isaiah 42:1-3. Since its initial publication in 1630, The Bruised Reed has been a source of encouragement to people at every stage of their spiritual journey alike; regardless if you are searching for God, just starting a relationship with Him, striving in your relationship with God or surrendered to God and His will; this book can be helpful for you. With this in mind, it is a book that was originally written in 1630 there are some editions that are more modernized than others, so keep this in mind in selecting one.

Here are a few things I enjoyed about this book:

  1. Centrality of ChristSibbes doesn’t just point out the sinfulness in the heart of man. He wants the heart of his readers to be captivated by Christ. According to Sibbes, God mercifully bruises followers of Jesus in order to soften their hardheartedness and awaken love for Christ. He writes: “This bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig-leaves of morality will do us no good” (4).

This kind of Christ-centeredness is found throughout the book: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us” (13). “We are only poor for this reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ” (61). “In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet” (62). “He who died for his enemies, will he refuse those, those desire of whose soul is towards him?” (65). “Whatever may be wished for in an all-sufficient comforter is all to be found in Christ” (66). Sibbes reminds readers of the importance of always keeping Christ at the center of everything we do especially in ministry to others.

  1. Clear Concise Sentences

I recall during one of my college writing courses coming to an understanding of communicating in short concise sentences as opposed to long narrative. This is one of the things I loved about Sibbes work. He not only makes complicated ideas plain but makes statements so concise they are easily tweet-able.

For example, Sibbes asks the probing question, “What is the source of discouragements to duties?” At this point, one might expect a complicated reply. But instead, Sibbes gives this simple, three-fold answer: “Not from the Father…Not from Christ…Not from the Spirit… Discouragements, then, must come from ourselves and from Satan, who labours to fasten on us a loathing of duty” (56-57). If you feel discouraged about going to God in prayer, then Sibbes exhorts you to preach to yourself that this discouraging lie is coming from your flesh or from the Devil, the father of lies. The holy, loving Triune God longs for his children to boldly draw near to his throne of grace.

Here are a few examples with some of my favorite quotes included:

  • “It is not sleepy habits, but grace in exercise, that preserves us.”.

  • “In time of temptation, believe Christ rather than the devil. Believe truth from truth itself”.

  • “Cast yourself into the arms of Christ, and if you perish, perish there”.

  • “Our discord is our enemy’s melody”.

  • “The lower Christ comes down to us, the higher let us lift Him up in our hearts”.

  • “They seek for heaven in hell that seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart”.

  • “A Christian conquers, even when he is conquered”.

  • “Grace conquers us first, and we, by it, conquer all else”.

  • “Weakness is the keeper of virtue. We take deeper root by shaking.”

  • “It is the bent of our wills that makes us good or ill.”

  1. Wise Counsel For All

Many people who have read Sibbes have been comforted in various seasons of their journeys of finding and following God, especially those serving in ministry. For me in my reading, I used it more so a devotional read on a retreat day. However, the style in which Sibbes writes is one that provides care, comfort and counsel for many. The Bruised Reed contains many examples of basic, helpful, pastoral counsel.

  1. To the wandering follower of Jesus who lacks assurance, Sibbes writes: “Willful breaches in sanctification will much hinder the sense of our justification” (61).
  2. To the stubborn follower of Jesus who is blinded to areas of sin, Sibbes writes: “[W]henever He savingly shines on the understanding He gives a soft and pliable heart…Where grace has subdued the heart, unruly passions do not cast such a mist before the understanding that it does not see in particular cases what is best” (88-89).
  3. To the struggling follower of Jesus who is clinging to Christ by faith, Sibbes writes: “A little thing in the hand of a giant will do great things. A little faith strengthened by Christ will work wonders” (92).