“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones”
Solomon is contrasting the physical effects of joy and sorrow. He explains that joy is like a medicine to the body, actually providing a healing element, while deep sorrow can negatively effect our health. Solomon is making this observation, not as a medical professional, but from watching others, as well as from his own personal experience. He came to realize that a joyful heart is much healthier and more productive than a broken one. I think we would all agree. If we had to choose, we would rather be merry than broken. The question is, “How do we avoid a broken spirit and gain a merry heart?”
Paul declared, the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy (Galatians 5:22). A merry heart is the bi-product of a life connected to Christ. Jesus said, when we abide in Him, we would bear fruit in our lives that remains (John 15:16). If we want a heart that is filled with joy and merriment, the first step is to receive Christ, and the next is to walk step by step with Him. The more we invest in our relationship with Christ, the more this joy will fill our lives, replacing sorrow and becoming in us, a well spring of life.
In one sense a broken spirit is important, even necessary for the believer.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
Here, the broken spirit refers to one who has realized his sins, and is coming to God for pardon. That is critical. Without being broken, we can never be saved. Solomon is speaking of another kind of brokenness, though. Not the brokenness caused by realizing we have sinned, but the brokenness caused by being in sin. Sin causes sorrow because it breaks fellowship with God. Jesus said He came to give us abundant life. The devil, on the other hand, came to rob us of that life. Whenever we choose to be involved in the things the Bible forbids, we are actually robbing ourselves of joy, and taking steps toward a broken spirit and dried up bones.
The closer we walk with Jesus, the more our hearts will be filled with the healing medicine of merriment.