Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. There is no hammer like it. Our Lord died of a broken heart, and reproach had done the deed. Intense mental suffering arises from slander; and in the case of the sensitive nature of the immaculate Son of Man, it sufficed to lacerate the heart till it broke. "Then burst his mighty heart."
And I am full of heaviness. Calumny and insult bowed him to the dust; he was sick at heart. The heaviness of our Lord in the garden is expressed by many and forcible words in the four gospels, and each term goes to show that the agony was beyond measure great; he was filled with misery, like a vessel which is full to the brim.
And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none. "Deserted in his utmost need by those his former bounty fed." Not one to say him a kindly word, or drop a sympathetic tear. Amongst ten thousand foes there was not one who was touched by the spectacle of his misery; not one with a heart capable of humane feeling towards him.
And for comforters, but I found none. His dearest ones had sought their own safety, and left their Lord alone. A sick man needs comforters, and a persecuted man needs sympathy; but our blessed Surety found neither on that dark and doleful night when the powers of darkness had their hour. A spirit like that of our Lord feels acutely desertion by beloved and trusted friends, and yearns for real sympathy. This may be seen in the story of Gethsemane: --
"Backwards and forwards thrice he ran.
As if he sought some help from man;
Or wished, at least, they would condole --
It was all they could -- his tortured soul."
"What ever he sought for, there was none;
Our Captain fought the field alone.
Soon as the chief to battle led,
That moment every soldier fled."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. Mental emotions and passions are well known by all to affect the actions of the heart, in the way of palpitation, fainting, etc. That these emotions and passions, when in overwhelming excess, occasionally, though rarely, produce laceration or rupture of the walls of the heart, is stated by most medical authorities who have written on the affections of this organ; and our poets even allude to this effect as an established fact.
"The grief that does not speak,
Whispers the over fraught heart, and bids it break."
But, if ever human heart was riven and ruptured by the mere amount of mental agony that was endured, it would surely, we might even argue, a priori, be that of our Redeemer, when, during those dark and dreadful hours on the cross, he, "being made a curse for us," "bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows," and suffered for sin the malediction of God and man, "full of anguish," and now "exceeding sorrowful even unto death." There are theological as well as medical arguments in favour of the opinion that Christ, in reality, died from a ruptured or broken heart. If the various wondrous prophecies and minute predictions in Psalms 22 and 69, regarding the circumstances connected with Christ's death, be justly held as literally true, such as, "They pierced my hands and my feet," "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture," etc., why should we regard as merely metaphorical, and not as literally true, also, the declarations in the same Psalms, Reproach hath broken my heart, "My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels," Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870), in W. Stroud's "Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ."
Verse 20. I looked for some to take pity, but there was none. Even under ordinary circumstances we yearn for sympathy. Without it, the heart will contract and droop, and shut like a flower in an unkindly atmosphere, but it will open again amidst the sounds of frankness and the scenes of love. When we are in trouble, this want is in proportion still more pressing; and, for the sorrowful heart to feel alone, is a grief greater than nature can sustain. A glance of sympathy seems to help it more than the gift of untold riches; and a loving look, even from a little child who is sorry for us, or a simple word from some homely friend, will sometimes brace the spirit to new exertions, and seem almost to waken life within the grasp of death. Charles Stanford, in "Central Truths." 1859.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 20. The Saviour's broken heart.
Broken hearts, such as are sentimental, caused by disappointed pride, penitence, persecution, sympathy, etc.