Are the words "broken" & "contrite" in

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

used as the attributes of Christ anywhere in the scripture or are they only characteristics of sinners?

Has Christ experienced these any time in His earthly life ?

Do people have to sin to experience both or any?

What is their real meaning?

  • Would Matthew 11:29 answer your question ?
    – Lucian
    Sep 8, 2019 at 5:32
  • @Lucian I could not see how. Could you please explain? Sep 20, 2019 at 4:20
  • The Greek text of both has one word in common (meek, contrite), though this is not entirely obvious from the King James or Cornilescu versions.
    – Lucian
    Sep 20, 2019 at 6:09

2 Answers 2


Psalm 51:17 in the LXX:

Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; a broken and humble heart God will not despise.
(Psalm 51:17 [50:19 LXX])

θυσία τῷ θεῷ πνεῦμα συντετριμμένον καρδίαν συντετριμμένην καὶ τεταπεινωμένην ὁ θεὸς οὐκ ἐξουθενώσει

Both are used to describe Jesus. To humble, ταπεινόω, is used once:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8) [ESV]

ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ

Broken (συντρίβω) is also used once:

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12)

ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Ἰδού ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα ὁ ἀγαπητός μου εἰς ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου θήσω τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ οὐκ ἐρίσει οὐδὲ κραυγάσει οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τις ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν

It is translated a "bruised" but the Greek is the same. In addition it is used once in a negative sense:

For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” (John 19:36)

ἐγένετο γὰρ ταῦτα ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ ὀστοῦν οὐ συντριβήσεται αὐτοῦ

Not one of His bones were broken but His side was pierced:

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. (John 19:34)

If the spear pierced His heart, then the "unbroken" legs resulted in a pierced, or broken heart. συντρίβω literally means broken to pieces or shattered. One could certainly see Jesus whose legs were not shattered as having a shattered heart. The use fits, but it is only implied.


I presume you are asking the question because the translation you are quoting (ESV, I think) reads The sacrifices of God are ...

The Septuagint reads here A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit ... (θυσία τῷ θεῷ πνεῦμα συντετριμμένον ...). This is the way the Psalm appears in all Eastern Orthodox prayer books, where it is part of the daily morning prayers. The Psalm is not describing sacrifices that God (Jesus) makes, but rather the sacrifices we are to make.

I am not an expert in Hebrew, but I think it is correct to say that Hebrew has no cases, or at least case endings. The Jewish translators that compiled the Septuagint obviously understood the dative case here ("to God"). Perhaps someone else has some explanation as to why the majority of translators of the Masoretic Text seem to see a possessive.

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