Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Grandpa Wooderson had a quarter horse that was part thoroughbred on the farm. Her name was Caroline. In her earlier years, she ran in county fair races. I thought she could “run like the wind,” and I wanted to ride her. Finally, my brothers and I had the opportunity. Dad put my brothers and me on her back. My oldest brother held the reins. My oldest brother said, “I know what makes this horse go.” He kicked the horse on her flanks. Caroline reared up quickly and descended with her back arched and forelegs stiff. My brothers and I flew up into the air and landed on the ground. Once again, Dad put my brothers and me on her back.
Similarly, Caroline reared up quickly and descended with her back arched and forelegs stiff. Again, my brothers and I flew up into the air and landed on the ground. My younger brother hit a light pole. Caroline didn’t want us on her back. Never again did I try to ride her because it was useless. The Greeks used the word translated “meek” to portray a domesticated horse (a tame horse). A horse that is not tame can be destructive.
Blessed are the meek was a shocking statement to the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day. It was because it called for a different standard of living. The Jewish leaders were spiritually proud. They were comfortable with their rules and regulations and their external form of religion. When the Messiah came, they expected Him to be pleased with their extraordinary spirituality.
There is a clear progression of thought in the beatitudes: first, one senses his own sinfulness Matthew 5: 3, which results in mourning Matthew 5:4. Then he focuses on God’s holiness, which produces meekness Matthew 5:5. We are to be poor in spirit because we are sinners, and we are to be meek because God is so holy.
In today’s world, the statement, Blessed are the meek may be even more shocking. For many people today, “meek” means “submissive and weak.” People associate blessed (happiness) with success, power, confidence, and conquest. However, W. E. Vine says the Greek word translated as “meek” in Matthew 5:5 (stands for) “gentle or mild.” Jesus’ Kingdom is for those who are meek. (John MacArthur).
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Old Testament prophets prophesied about Israel’s Humble King and Savior coming. The prophet Zechariah wrote about the arrival of Israel’s Humble King and Savior. In Zechariah 9:9, the prophet rejoices and says, Your King comes to you! He is lowly and riding on a donkey (considered an animal of peace).
The Gospel of Matthew has a similar message as Zechariah 9:9. Behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey (Matthew 21:5). The figure of another great King and deliverer emerges. He was not a human conqueror. Jesus would be a divine-human Prince of peace; not rich and powerful, but poor and meek.
Jesus says, Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29). The people to whom Jesus spoke were already wearing a yoke of the law. Jesus was talking about the voluntary wearing of other kinds of yokes. Jesus pleads that we must wear the yoke of faith in God, demonstrated by doing what is right in the sight of God. We must wear the yoke of love, demonstrated by our allegiance to Christ. These are yokes of meek obedience to God.
Peter says, in the hidden person of the heart, in the incorruptible adornment of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (! Peter 3:4). The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, and patient (2 Timothy 2:24).
Meekness refers to staying under control. To have complete control of ourselves is beyond our capacity. We must have God’s help.
The word “meekness” also speaks of humility. Blessed is the person who has humility. The humble man knows God is the greatest. We only reach true maturity when we are aware we are the creature, and God is the Creator. Without God, we cannot do anything.
Humility forbids all pride. Humility indeed describes the only attitude that we should have toward God. Without humility, there is no such thing as love. The principle of love comes from a sense of lack of merit. Without humility, there is no true religion because true religion begins with a sense of our lack of self-character.
The meek are people who know when to be angry at the right time and know when not to be angry. John MacArthur says that the Greeks used the word “meek” to “describe a soothing medicine (or) a gentle breeze… ”.
John MacArthur says: “A meek person is gentle, tenderhearted, patient, and submissive. The apostle Paul said, “Now I Paul, myself, entreat (plead with) you by the humility and gentleness of Christ; I who in your presence am lowly (humble) among you… ” (2 Corinthians 10:1). It is a consequence of being humble before God. Ephesian 4:26 says, “Get angry and don’t sin. Don’t let the sun set on your anger.”
Meekness is not a lack of character. The meek person is not: spineless, weak, cowardly, self-affirming, or greedy. Moses and Jesus were the most unassuming men, but they were also the most powerful of men. Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than all the men on the earth’s surface (Numbers 12:3). “Moses’ declaration of humility is not having too high of an opinion of himself. It is a statement required to have a full and correct interpretation of all the circumstances and was made quite objectively regarding the character of Moses had not given to himself but had acquired through the grace of God.
We need to be mindful that Moses was not a creature who never got angry. William Barclay says, “Moses’ wrath was on a leash to be released when the time was right.”
Jesus was not a creature who never got angry. For example, do you remember the cleansing of the temple? “Jesus entered the temple of God, and he drove all those who sold and bought in the temple and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called the House of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers”’ (Matthew 21:12-13). The action Jesus took could have been because the temple of God was a house of prayer for all nations.
According to The Interpreters’ Bible, the meek are humble in the strength of reverence. Aware of their obligations. They walk in silent godliness. The Apostle Paul says, ‘Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. It is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,” says the Lord”
(Romans 12:19). The meek are content to walk in the shadow where God watches his own.
What are the results of meekness? We will be happy (blessed). “… the humble shall inherit the land and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11, WEB). In a sense, the Kingdom is ours now, as if it were a written agreement.
The ingredients of meekness (John MacArthur):
1. Gentleness – a meek person is gentle, tenderhearted, patient, and submissive.
2. Being like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 10:1 says, Now I Paul, myself, entreat you by the humility and gentleness of Christ; I who in your presence am lowly among you. It speaks of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. “If Jesus had any special purpose in riding into the city, it was to make it clear to all beholders that he came for peace and had no intention of exercising force” (TIB). “He rode on an animal that was (a) symbol of quietness, not on a war horse” (YIB).
3. Power under control. Meekness is a by-product of humbling oneself before God. It is taming of a lion – not the killing of it. Proverbs says, Like a city that is broken down and without walls is a man whose spirit is without restraint (Proverbs 25:28). One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; one who rules his spirit, then he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32). Be angry and don’t sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (Ephesians 4:26). Anger must be under control and expressed for the right reasons at the right time. A spirit not given to vengeance. A meek individual can joyfully accept the plundering of his possessions because he knows he has “in heaven a better and enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34). Because he has died to himself, he doesn’t worry about injury, and he bears
F. F. Bruce says in Ephesians, chapters four and five, the Apostle Paul lists eight things that are sinful and eight things that are not sinful:
SINFUL (evil) NOT SINFUL (morally superior)
4:25 – Falsehood 4:25 – Truth
4:26-27- Resentment (anger) 4:26-27 – Self-Control
4:28 -Stealing 4:28 – Generosity
4:29-30 – Evil Speech 4:29-30 – Edification (building up as needed)
4:31 – 5:2 – Malice (grudge or ill-feeling) 4:31 – 5:2 – Love
5:3-14 – Impurity (sexual immorality) 5:3-14 – Chastity (purity)
5:15-17 – Imprudence (foolish talking) 5:15-17 – Wisdom
5:18-20 – Debauchery (drunken with wine). 5:18-20 – Joy
George Mac Donald says: “Meekness only makes the spiritual retina (interior of the eyeball) pure to receive the things of God as they are.” Because we are a part of the Kingdom of God, we see the world differently than those who are not believers.
All of the Scripture passages are based on the World English Bible (WEB)-
By C. Paul Wooderson