Is it right to assert that our Lord died of a broken heart, in accordance with the words of Psalm 69:20?
It is surely very important “rightly to divide” the Psalms, as the rest of Scripture, distinguishing what may represent the actual experiences of the Psalmist, from what goes much further either to those of the future faithful remnant of Israel, or to our Lord Himself. Such a Psalm as Psalm 38 would apply all through, one would judge, to the faithful remnant, and perhaps in parts to Christ, but it is truly a shocking misapplication to attempt, as has been done sometimes, to interpret such words as are used in vv. and 7 of our Holy, spotless Lord. Even in the most clearly Messianic Psalms, a serious mistake is made in applying, or attempting to apply, everything to Christ, e.g., such verses as Psalm 40:12, and Psalm 69:5 (“Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me... they are more than the hairs of my head,” and “Oh God, thou knowest my foolishness and my sins are not hid from thee”). It is blessedly true that He bore our sins, but they were “ours” all the time, not His. “He suffered once for sins,” but it was also as “the just for the unjust,” for even as the sin-offering He was most holy (see Leviticus 6:29). There was never any confusion between Him, the guiltless, Holy One and those for whom He suffered—the guilty and defiled.
As for the special verse in question, I regard it as quite erroneous to maintain that our Lord “died of a broken heart,” even though some medical authorities have asserted it; but doctors differ here as elsewhere. How can it be possible to apply the ordinary diagnosis to One whose side had been pierced, since death, with a spear? Any symptoms might occur, one would think, under such circumstances. Above all let it be remembered we are speaking of One who strictly speaking did not “die of anything”, but laid down His life. He did not gradually collapse, as an ordinary dying man; “He dismissed His Spirit” (Matthew 27:50, lit, translation). He died “too soon” in fact, as all testified. He did not die of shock or heart attack, for as He died, He cried with a loud voice and uttered two memorable, articulate sentences: “It is finished,” and “Father into Thy hands I commend my Spirit.” But this being said, I see no difficulty whatever in applying to our Lord the words in question, “Reproach hath broken my heart.” They are clearly used in a figurative sense; for the verse runs on: “I am full of heaviness and I looked for some to take pity but there was none.” Is it not evident that our Lord continued to live after His heart was “broken” in this sense? Heart- breaks, as some know, are not always physical, but moral, and they may not be less poignant for that. But this is quite distinct from the sentimental and mistaken view combated above, that our Lord died in any sense from a broken heart.
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