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The Bruised Reed (Puritan Paperbacks)

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  1,163 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews

Richard Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes"

The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax; is a masterful exposition of Matthew 12:20. In this the author explains what the reed refers to, then he explains what is to be "a bruised reed."

Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 1620)
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Jeff Shelnutt
"A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall not He quench; He shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20).

Beginning with this verse in reference to its fulfillment in Christ, Richard Sibbes, in classic Puritan fashion, seeks to extract the essence by exploring the whole of Scriptural teaching on the subject.

Sibbes defines the "bruised reed" as one who "is sensible of sin and misery, even unto bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, is carried with re
Derek Brown
Jun 22, 2013 Derek Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think Martin Lloyd Jones' endorsement of this book is a good place to start: "I shall never cease to be grateful to...Richard Sibbs who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil...I found at that time that Richard Sibbes who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as 'The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes' was an unfailing remedy."

There are many reasons why we may feel like t
I read this book as part of a Puritan challenge, and have found it to be a very worthwhile book. The book was written by Richard Sibbes, who lived from 1577 to 1635, and was one of the most influential figures in the Puritan movement in the early part of the 17th century.

The book is based on Isaiah 42: 1 - 3
Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
Isa 42:2 He will not cry aloud or li
Alexis Neal
This exposition of Isaiah 42:3 ("A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench . . .") is, I believe, Sibbes' best known work. It has been consistently praised by theologians and preachers I respect and seems to be very highly regarded by all who've read it.

Except me, apparently.

Honestly, I found it rather underwhelming. Maybe I've just heard it talked up too much; maybe my expectations were unreasonably high. Whatever the reason, this book was kind of a letdown for
Philip Mcduffie
I have committed myself to reading this book every year. This is my third time reading it, and every time it brings much encouragement to me. I cannot help by have my affections stirred for Christ as I work my way through the pages of this beautiful piece of literature.

"His love to us moves him to frame us to be like himself, and our love to him stirs us up to be such as he may take delight in."

"So, though sin cleaves to what we do, yet let us do it, since we have to deal with so good a Lord, an
Alex Stroshine
I think this is the fourth Puritan book I've read (fifth if you count J.I. Packer as one ;) ) and this is my favourite one. This is an encouraging spiritual classic that refreshes those beset by sin and draws the reader closer to the heart of Christ. Richard Sibbes reveals how even in the midst of temptation, the "smoking flax" of the believer will not to extinguished by a merciful and gracious God.
Dec 26, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to Sibbes. Very fine work and a source of great encouragement for me being at a pause between two busy seasons of ministry.

Lloyd-Jones said:I shall never cease to be grateful to Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onsalughts of the devil. I found at that time that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as "The Heavely Doctor Sib
Feb 24, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this title out of (to be honest) self-pity, wanting some comfort because I felt like I was being badly treated (thus, a bruised reed, right?). However, Sibbes' main premise is that every Christian is a bruised reed or a smoking flax, who still holds weakness even while emitting light. Sibbes' ethos throughout is both compassionate and erudite, hardly representing the stereotypical Puritan I grew up hearing about in public school.

Perhaps my favorite part, surprisingly, was Sibbes' enc
Joel Rockey
Jul 07, 2016 Joel Rockey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pastor friend of mine recommended this book to me. I always enjoy reading the old Puritan writers, but at the same time I feel like I just scratch the surface. Quite frankly, I have a hard time understanding what they write sometimes. There were great truths scattered throughout this book, but I'll probably have to read it again to get more out of it. All-in-all it was very good.
so wonderfully written. he must have been an amazing shepherd, you can almost hear the gracious tone of his voice as he deals so carefully and gently with the downcast and burdened. chalked full of truth this book is like salve for the saved, but yet a heralding hope for the lost and castaway. a good read for any season but especially in times of hardship and dejection.
D Powell
This was a fascinating look into early seventeenth century Puritan thinking. Richard Sibbes' classic treatise first published in 1630 has had its language modernised a little and headings inserted to make it easier for the modern reader to follow but otherwise is the author's voice as was.

The book is a commentary on Isaiah 42:1-3 and centres on the prophesy of Jesus that "a bruised reed shall not he break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench."

For all the modernising, Sibbes language is stil
Sep 10, 2012 Jeanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading the works of those long before us. Their work will stand because of the integrity to the glory of God. The Bruised Reed is a work of the broken and bruised in spirit. It has reflection on the government of Jesus and the Gospel. I thought this was most insightful.
Steve Thomasma
Dec 12, 2013 Steve Thomasma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book. The first half of this book was very engaging and hard to put down. The second half of the book, while theologically sound, was extremely dry. I do not regret reading this, but it did take a lot longer than it should have.
Abigail Hartman
Jul 18, 2016 Abigail Hartman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
"The Lord reveal himself more and more to us in the face of his Son Jesus Christ and magnify the power of his grace in cherishing those beginnings of grace in the midst of our corruptions, and sanctify the consideration of our own infirmities to humble us, and of his tender mercy to encourage us. And may he persuade us that, since he has taken us into the covenant of grace, he will not cast us off for those corruptions which, as they grieve his Spirit, so they make us vile in our own eyes. And b ...more
Mitch Majeski
Oct 22, 2010 Mitch Majeski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The mercy and favor of God towards the redeemed... this book may have been the most important for my soul this year.
Very encouraging. Simple gospel truths to store up and meditate on in order to fan the smoking flax into flame.
Matt Tyler
Apr 30, 2015 Matt Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I am so encouraged by Sibbes' meditation on Isaiah 41:3. Jesus in his great mercy will not break a bruised reed and he will not quench a smoking flax.

This book served me in two primary ways: it caused me to want to be more like Jesus. Jesus shows himself to be one who deals tenderly with bruised reeds. I want to grow in my own efforts to comfort and encourage those who are "bruised." Second, bruised reeds are all those who realize their own sinfulness and need for grace. I am a bruised reed and
Mar 24, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short but wonderfully encouraging book on how Christ works in us. If you've ever struggled with wondering if Christ is "for" you or are facing spiritual discouragement, this is a great book for you. Below are a few select quotes.

"O beloved, it is a comfortable thing to conceive of Christ aright, to know what love, mercy and strength we have laid up for us in the breast of Christ. A good opinion of the physician, we say, is half the cure. Let us make use of this mercy and power of his every day i
Chad Gibbons
Jul 25, 2011 Chad Gibbons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, the Puritans have gotten a bad rap as killjoys, but these guys were awesome. They came on the scene in the mid 1500s and over the span of about a hundred years, they revolutionized nearly everything they came in contact with. These were a people who loved life, art, music, politics, religion and anything else they found worthy to be loved. Their heavy impact can still be felt today in nearly every aspect of the English speaking world.

One of their foremost influences was on literature. Duri
Sep 07, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: devotional
This, I think, will be one of those rare books that I read again and again. Almost every page was encouraging and helpful. I would read a page or two before reading my Bible in the mornings and I found it well-suited for that. Sibbes is gentle without excusing sin as he deals with weak Christians, or really I should say Christians in general, since I suppose we all feel our weakness in one way or another. He is also profound without being hard to understand. One of my favorite quotes is on page ...more
Olanma Ogbuehi
Apr 04, 2015 Olanma Ogbuehi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in early 2000 and found that it was so helpful at a difficult period of life. It reminded me of the compassion of Christ. It gave me hope in his mercy and grace again. It helped me to look at Christ, in my trembling, feeble condition, and trust that he would receive me and help me in my weaknesss.
Jun 24, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, jesus
At times it was plodding and difficult to follow [it was written in 1630], but in many other places it was encouraging and helpful. Like most of the Puritan Paperbacks, the parts that people quote are the best parts, there are few hidden treasures. I would have given it a 3.5 if I could give halves.

I did find interesting in the last chapter that Sibbes says:
Satan will object, 'You are a great sinner.' We may answer, 'Christ is a strong Saviour.'

I had always heard that quote/idea "I am a great si
John Nash
Dec 30, 2014 John Nash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, 2014
Richard Sibbes is a legend! As Spurgeon said, this man really does "scatter emy arms and diamonds with both hands." I suppose it's worth noting that, besides the titles obvious allusion to Isaiah, this work is not an exegetical work by any means. It is a work for the heart; each and every sentence aimed at relieving some sorrow or pain in the reader. His definition of a smoking flax or a bruised reed are obviously his own creation, yet they are born from a thorough knowledge of our Lord and his ...more
Nathan Moore
Jun 05, 2016 Nathan Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. My favorite of all the Puritan Paperbacks I've read so far. This little book will be my lifelong companion.

Believer... "What a comfort this is in our conflicts with our unruly hearts, that it shall not always be so! Let us strive a little while, and we shall be happy forever." Richard Sibbes
Won Ho Kim
Apr 15, 2016 Won Ho Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very edifying book overall. Great nuggets of pastoral wisdom and encouragement. But I did feel like it was a bit repetitive, and because the language it a bit archaic, it's hard for me to give it a 5-star rating now.
Available through Librivox at:

hmm, it's not so much that I think the points he's making are wrong, it's just I'm not sure they really are necessarily so definitely related to the Isaiah bruised reed passage. He kind of just takes that image and runs with it, making all sorts of connections I'm not sure are there with respect to the bruised reed passage. But I'm not a scholar, so maybe they're there....

while I technically finished, I really didn't pay clos
Amazing. It's pretty deep though, and since it was first written in 1630 it's no light read. It requires concentration and thought, and I'm willing to bet I'll be able to reread it multiple times and get more and more from it. In fact, that's what I plan on doing.

I'm surprised I've never heard of this before, because Richard Sibbes writes words of comfort and, more importantly, truth. Even though the writing sometimes has difficult wordings, he makes the truth of God very clear and simple. I wou
Debbie Brandenburg
All I can say is "WOW"! Such gospel love! Such a worshipful spirit! Was greatly encouraged by this little book.
J. Alfred
Apr 17, 2012 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful collection of sermons preached on that verse in Isaiah: "the bruised reed he will not break, and the smoking flax he will not quench." In Sibbes' (who was a puritan writing just before the English Civil War) hands this verse means that everyone who is in Christ is a bruised reed ("Christ bruises reeds that they may know that they are not oaks") and smoking flax (our good works [fire] are still always shot through with sin [smoke]). It is encouraging, sweet, and sound. At one point, he ...more
Oliver Pierce
Definitely worth digging into and putting some effort in. There many gems to be found and overall it's a very encouraging book. Yet still it is a Puritan book and you have to slow down a bit to think through the grammar. However also as Puritan book, it is soaked with scripture and worth the slow pace. I probably will re read this later and get even more out of it .
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Richard Sibbes was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577 and went to school in Bury St Edmunds. His father, 'a good sound-hearted Christian', at first intended that Richard should follow his own trade as a wheelwright, but the boy s 'strong inclination to his books, and well-profiting therein' led to his going up to St John's College, Cambridge in 1595. He was converted around 1602-3 through the power ...more
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“Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies.” 11 likes
“God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives.” 7 likes
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