"a broken spirit"

Another place the Psalms speaks of the anawim (poor, afflicted, lowly, meek) as God's faithful ones is Ps 37.9-11:

The wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.

Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look well at his place, he will not be there. But the anawim shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
Here the anawim are contrasted with the wicked. (Notice also the parallel with Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.") Not just the poor, but the faithful poor.

So what distinguishes these poor, afflicted ones from others who suffer (and also from those who don't suffer but enjoy power and wealth)? They "wait for the Lord." They look to God for protection and deliverance. They don't trust in their own power or abilities or resources, and they don't trust in other gods or other people, but they trust the Lord. This is what sets them apart as the faithful, or righteous, as the psalmist calls them at the end of Ps 37:
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

It's easy to see how material poverty and powerlessness might lead us to stop trusting in our own strength. Wealth and power work the opposite way (hence, "Power corrupts"). Jesus chose a life of poverty and powerlessness to perfectly demonstrate what trust in God means, what the blessed life of complete dependence on God looks like. But there are those who are poor and weak who still do not trust God. I frequently meet poor people who trust drugs and alcohol instead, though these are slowly destroying them. It's incredible the depths that people will sink, and still convince themselves that they can handle their own lives. Last night a guy showed up again on our front porch, so drunk he couldn't walk, hadn't eaten all day, facing a 20F night with no blankets and no place to stay--and still he mumbles that he'll straighten his life out tomorrow. He's been saying this as long as I've known him.

What is required is admitting our own helplessness and turning to God in hope that he will rescue us. And he will. As David wrote in Psalm 51: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

This broken spirit is also the starting point in 12-step spirituality. It means admitting that we are powerless over our addictions, our problems, our lives. It's not just admitting that we can't handle drugs or alcohol (though that's usually what people admit first). The deeper truth is that we are powerless to make our lives and ourselves good so that we won't want to escape them. It's only when we let God change us and give us life as a gift that we can be happy and satisfied enough to not want those false (chemical, psychological, financial) escapes that ultimately destroy us. But this means giving up control of our lives. It is not easy. The 12-step programs recognize that great suffering is usually necessary to bring people to the point of admitting powerlessness, so they tend to let a person "hit bottom" so they can find the broken spirit that they need before God.

So there is a definite connection between real material need, affliction, humiliation, and the poverty of spirit, the brokenness of spirit we need to receive God's blessed life. But there are also many of us who suffer these things and yet refuse to be broken. These poor, afflicted ones are not the anawim that Jesus had good news for. These have no interest in Jesus. These are the ones whose lives have become a living hell, because they won't admit defeat.