THE GENTLE: makarioi hoi praeis: (Mt
11:29; 21:5; Numbers 12:3; Psalms 22:26; 25:9; 69:32; *marg:; Psalms
147:6; 149:4; Isaiah 11:4; 29:19; 61:1; Zephaniah 2:3; Galatians 5:23;
Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1Timothy 6:11; 2Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2;
James 1:21; 3:13; 1Peter 3:4,15)
Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous,
spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and
salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the
mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!
Happy are those who claim nothing,
for the whole earth will belong to them! (Philips)
William Barclay gives an
extra "amplified" translation of this verse "O THE BLISS OF THE MAN WHO IS
ALWAYS ANGRY AT THE RIGHT TIME AND NEVER ANGRY AT THE WRONG TIME, WHO
HAS EVERY INSTINCT, AND IMPULSE, AND PASSION UNDER CONTROL BECAUSE HE
HIMSELF IS GOD-CONTROLLED, WHO HAS THE HUMILITY TO REALISE HIS OWN
IGNORANCE AND HIS OWN WEAKNESS, FOR SUCH A MAN IS A KING AMONG MEN! (Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible -online)
Beloved, if you've had any doubt
that the first two qualities (poverty of spirit, mourning over sins)
Jesus calls His subjects to exhibit, then surely His charge for us to
assume this naturally impossible trait of meekness should
convince you to think otherwise.
None of the character traits that Jesus mentions in the beatitudes are
natural traits so by default they can only be
supernaturally produced. Gentleness or meekness especially
highlights the supernatural origin as it is mentioned as one of the
components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
says "A man can never be meek unless he is poor in spirit. A man can never be
meek unless he has seen himself as a vile sinner. These other things
must come first. (Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
One needs to keep the historical
context in mind when interpreting the meaning and significance of
"blessed are the gentle (meek)". Remember that Jesus is speaking
primarily to Jews in this sermon which was likely His first major
message. Can you imagine the expectation that buzzed through the Jewish
crowd as they prepared themselves to hear from their Messiah Who would
lay out His plans to conquer the hated Roman oppressors! Nothing could
have come to them as more of a shock than these eight beatitudes, but
this one, the third, must have been especially shocking. "Blessed are
the meek". How much further from their expectation of a materialistic,
military kingdom could Jesus' statement have been!
As John MacArthur writes "in whatever way various groups of
people expected the Messiah to come, they did not anticipate His coming
humbly and meekly. Yet those were the very attitudes that Jesus, the one
whom John the Baptist had announced as the Messiah, was both teaching
and practicing. The idea of a meek Messiah leading meek people was far
from any of their concepts of the messianic kingdom. The Jews understood
military power and miracle power. They even understood the power of
compromise, unpopular as it was. But they did not understand the power
of meekness. The people as a whole eventually rejected Jesus because He
did not fulfill their messianic expectations...This strange preacher
could hardly be the deliverer they were looking for. Great causes are
fought by the proud, not the humble. You cannot win victories while
mourning, and you certainly could never conquer Rome with meekness. In
spite of all the miracles of His ministry, the people never really
believed in Him as the Messiah, because He failed to act in military or
miracle power against Rome...Jesus’ teaching seemed new and unacceptable
to most of His hearers simply because the Old Testament was so greatly
neglected and misinterpreted. They did not recognize the humble and
self-denying Jesus as the Messiah because they did not recognize God’s
predicted Suffering Servant as the Messiah. That was not the kind of
Messiah they wanted.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
D Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his
classic treatise on the Sermon on the Mount draws a parallel with much
of the modern church movement asking "is there not a rather pathetic
tendency to think in terms of fighting the world, and sin, and the
things that are opposed to Christ, by means of great organizations? Am I
wrong when I suggest that the controlling and prevailing thought of the
Christian Church throughout the world seems to be the very opposite of
what is indicated in this text? 'There', they say, 'is the
powerful enemy set against us, and here is the divided Christian Church.
We must all get together, we must have one huge organization to face
that organized enemy. Then we shall make an impact, and then we shall
conquer.' But 'Blessed are the meek', not those who trust to their
own organizing, not those who trust to their own powers and abilities
and their own institutions. Rather it is the very reverse of that. And
this is true, not only here, but in the whole message of the Bible. You
get it in that perfect story of Gideon where God went on reducing the
numbers, not adding to them. That is the spiritual method, and here it
is once more emphasized in this amazing statement in the Sermon on the
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
means spiritually prosperous, independent of one's circumstances because it is a
state bestowed by God and not a feeling felt.
To reiterate, notice that the
beatitudes are not random statements but exhibit a logical order --
poverty of spirit, a recognition and acknowledgement of one's
spiritual bankruptcy apart from God (and Jesus) naturally leads to a
state of mourning over living a life independent of God's good
and perfect will, a lifestyle which grieves the heart of the Father but
from which flows a genuine meekness established in the heart by
the comfort the contrite sinner receives. Now as gentle men and gentle
women, we meekly (as used in the Bible) bow our knee to the Father and
say "What pleases Thee O Father is
our heart's desire."
Spurgeon says it is "Not your high-spirited,
quick-tempered men, who will put up with no insult, your hectoring,
lofty ones, who are ever ready to resent any real or imagined
disrespect, there is no blessing here for them; but blessed are the
gentle, those who are ready to be thought nothing
of. They are lowly-minded, and are
ready to give up their portion in the earth; therefore it shall come
back to them. They neither boast, nor contend, nor exult over others,
yet are they heirs of all the good which God has created on the face of
the earth. In their meekness they are like their King, and they shall
reign with him. The promised land is for the tribes of the meek: before
them the Canaanites shall be driven out. He has the best of this world
who thinks least of it, and least of himself.
The blessings of the Beatitudes
are for those who are realistic about their sinfulness, who are
repentant of their sins, and who are responsive to God in His
righteousness. Those who are unblessed, unhappy, and shut out of the
kingdom are the proud, the arrogant, the unrepentant-the self-sufficient
and self-righteous who see in themselves no unworthiness and feel no
need for God’s help and God’s righteousness. (MacArthur, J:
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
some sources state it originates from paos = easy, mild or soft)
for in depth study of the related noun translated "gentleness' =
describes those who are of a
quiet, gentle spirit, in opposition to the proud and supercilious
Scribes and Pharisees and their disciples. We have a compound word
gentleman, which once fully expressed the meaning of the
word meek, but in our modern society has almost wholly lost its original
Praus is used 4 times in the NT in
the NASB (Matt 5:5; 11:29; 21:5; 1 Pet 3:4)
and is always translated "gentle" but could be translated as
“meek” or “tender.” It refers to an
inward grace of the soul. Here are some variations in translation...
"who don’t trust in their own power”
“whose strength is in their
Praus - 14x in the
- Num 12:3; Job 24:4; 36:15; Ps 25:9KJV; Ps 34:2; 37:11;
76:9; 147:6; 149:4; Isa 26:6; Dan 4:19; Joel 3:11; Zeph 3:12; Zech 9:9
Numbers 12:3ESV Now the man
Moses was very meek (Lxx = praus), more than all people who were
on the face of the earth.
Psalm 37:11ESV But the meek
(Lxx = praus) shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant
In Classical Greek praus was used to describe
tame or gentle animals (an unbroken colt was useless), a soothing
medicine (medicine that was too strong would harm rather than cure), a
mild or soft word (cf Pr 15:1), a gentle voice (emotion out of control
would destroy and tear down) or a gentle breeze (wind out of control
would bring destruction).
And so a person without meekness is
city that is broken into and without walls” (Pr 25:28).
“He who is
slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit,
than he who captures a city” (Pr 16:32).
As Barclay relates...
It was the
lack of that very quality which ruined Alexander the Great, who, in a
fit of uncontrolled temper in the middle of a drunken debauch, hurled a
spear at his best friend and killed him. No man can lead others until he
has mastered himself; no man can serve others until he has subjected
himself; no man can be in control of others until he has learned to
control himself. But the man who gives himself into the complete control
of God will gain this meekness which will indeed enable him to inherit
the earth. (Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible -online)
As someone has said praus is a word with a
"caress" in it. In this regard it is interesting to note John Wycliffe's
translation of Mt 5:5 as...
MacArthur writes that...
is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek person, for
example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property, knowing that he
has infinitely better and more permanent possessions awaiting him in
heaven (Heb. 10:34). The meek person has died to self, and he
therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or about loss, insult,
or abuse. The meek person does not defend himself, first of all
because that is His Lord’s command and example, and second because he
knows that he does not deserve defending. Being poor in spirit and
having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle person stands
humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend himself.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
As noted above the Greeks characterized meekness as
power under control and in the case of the Spirit filled believer this
means that he or she is under the control of God's Spirit. From a
practical standpoint, the individual who is "praus" exhibits a
freedom from malice, bitterness, or any desire for revenge. The only way
to truly define meekness is in the context of relationships
because it refers to how we treat others. A gentle spirit
should characterize our relationship with both man and God.
Meekness/gentleness also implies self-control. Aristotle explained that
it is the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness. So
the man who is meek is able to balance his anger. It is strength under
control. The meek person is strong! He is gentle, meek, and mild, but he
is in control. He is as strong as steel.
Meekness implies submission to
God but it is not a passive submission that shrugs its shoulders and
says, "Oh well, I can't do anything about it anyway," but it is an
active submission, a choosing to accept God's ways without murmuring or
Meekness is not cowardice,
emotional flabbiness, lack of conviction, complacency, timidity or the
willingness to have peace at any cost.
Neither does meekness suggest
indecisiveness, wishy-washiness, or a lack of confidence. The meek
person is gentle and mild in his own cause, though he may be a lion in
God’s cause or in defending others.
Meekness is not shyness or a
withdrawn personality, as contrasted with that of an extrovert. Nor can
meekness be reduced to mere niceness. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones
explains it this way...
people who seem to be born naturally nice. That is not what the Lord
means when He says, `Blessed are the meek.' That is something purely
biological, the kind of thing you get in animals. One dog is nicer than
another, one cat is nicer than another. That is not meekness. So it does
not mean to be naturally nice or easy to get on with. Nor does it mean
weakness in personality or character. Still less does it mean a spirit
of compromise or 'peace at any price. How often are these things
mistaken. How often is the man regarded as meek who says, 'Anything
rather than have a disagreement.
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
Meekness is not
weakness, but meekness does not use its power for its own defense or
selfish purposes. Meekness is controlled strength or power completely
surrendered to God’s control. It is an attitude of heart in which all
energies are brought into the perfect control of the Holy Spirit.
The courage, strength,
conviction, and softness of meekness come from the Spirit (see
Galatians 5:23), not from self. This spirit of meekness is ultimately the
spirit of Christ Himself. Peter records our Lord's example of meekness
that we might follow...
you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for
you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT
FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while
suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who
judges righteously (see notes
1 Peter 2:21;
Notice that in meekness Jesus did not attempt to defend Himself nor
did He return evil for evil even though accused and suffering unjustly.
This is our precious example of meekness beloved. Will you follow the
Savior's steps along this narrow path? You will be blessed now and
W E Vine writes that...
Meekness is an in-wrought grace
of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.
It is that temper of spirit in
which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without
disputing and resisting
refers to one who is not overly impressed by a sense of one’s
self-importance and is gentle, humble, considerate, meek and unassuming.
Lloyd-Jones explains that...
The meek man is not proud of
himself, he does not in any sense glory in himself. He feels that there
is nothing in himself of which he can boast. It also means that he does
not assert himself...He does not make demands for his position, his
privileges, his possessions, his status in life (see esp. Phil 2:5)...the
man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always
watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the
defensive...We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves. But when
a man becomes meek he has finished with all that; he no longer worries
about himself and what other people say. To be truly meek means we no
longer protect ourselves, because we see there is nothing worth
defending. So we are not on the defensive; all that is gone. The man who
is truly meek never pities himself, he is never sorry for himself. He
never talks to himself and says, 'You are having a hard time, how unkind
these people are not to understand you: He never thinks: `How wonderful
I really am, if only other people gave me a chance.' Self-pity! What
hours and years we waste in this! But the man who has become meek has
finished with all that. To be meek, in other words, means that you have
finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no
rights or deserts at all. You come to realize that nobody can harm you.
John Bunyan puts it perfectly. 'He that is down need fear no fall.'
When a man truly sees himself, he knows nobody can say anything about
him that is too bad. You need not worry about what men may say or do;
you know you deserve it all and more...A person who is of the type that
I have been describing must of necessity be mild. Think again of the
examples; think again of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mild, gentle, lowly—
those are the terms...But it also means that there will be a complete
absence of the spirit of retaliation, having our own back or seeing that
the other person pays for it. It also means, therefore, that we shall be
patient and long-suffering, especially when we suffer unjustly...But it
also means that we are ready to listen and to learn; that we have such a
poor idea of ourselves and our own capabilities that we are ready to
listen to others. Above all we must be ready to be taught by the Spirit,
and led by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Meekness always implies a
teachable spirit. It is what we see again in the case of our Lord
Himself. Though he was the Second Person in the blessed Holy Trinity, He
became man, He deliberately humbled Himself to the extent that He was
dependent entirely upon what God gave Him, what God taught Him and what
God told Him to do. He humbled Himself to that, and that is what is
meant by being meek. We must be ready to learn and listen and especially
must we surrender ourselves to the Spirit....Finally, I would put it
like this. We are to leave everything — ourselves, our rights, our
cause, our whole future — in the hands of God, and especially so if we
feel we are suffering unjustly.
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
Meekness speaks of a submissive and trusting
attitude toward God. It is an attitude which accepts all of God's ways
with us as good. It does not murmur or dispute (cf Phil 2:3, 14-16,
James 5:9, Pr 13:10 15:18). It neither rebels nor retaliates (cf Pr
20:22, Ro 12:17-21, Mt 5:39, 44, 1Thes 5:15, 1Cor 13:5, 1Pet 3:8-9). It
realizes that what comes to us from the hand of man has been permitted
by God's sovereignty (Da 4:34-35, Ps 103:19 Da 7:27, 1Ti 6:15),
has been filtered by His fingers of love, and will be used by God for
His glory and our ultimate good. God is sovereign and in absolute
control. Meekness looks beyond circumstances — no matter how upsetting
and hurtful — and bows the knee to the sovereign God
realizing that everything is permitted and used by Him for our
chastening, our purifying.
Meekness says, "Not my will, but Yours
Meekness bows before the throne and realizes that the
God Who sits upon that throne is an all-wise God. God makes His wise
plans on the basis of His righteous character. He has righteous ends in
mind and chooses righteous means to achieve those ends.
knows that the God Who sits upon the throne of the universe is a good
God. Meekness then, when faced
with adversity, bows the knee. Why? How? Because the meek individual has
come to know God's character. (Ponder a few of these passages - Isaiah 14:24, 27, Psalm 52:9, Psalm
107:9, Isaiah 45:5-7, Ecclesiastes 7:13-14, Psalm 31:14-15).
looks "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not
seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which
are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). meekness does not accuse
God of being unrighteous or unjust.
Meekness realizes that God is
holy. He is a morally excellent, perfect being, pure in every aspect. So
meekness makes itself low before His might and majesty.
Meekness whispers through its
tears, "God, I trust You. I know You are holy. I know You are righteous.
I know You are just. I accept everything that comes into my life without
murmuring, without disputing, without retaliation. I know, God, that You
are a God of wrath. I know that within You is a holy hatred for all that
is unrighteous — an unquenchable desire to punish all unrighteousness. I
know, God, that whatever is inconsistent with You must ultimately be
consumed. And I wait for that day when You, in righteousness and
justice, will move with wrath."
Meekness manifests itself in its reaction to evil — by turning
the other cheek, loving its enemies, and praying for those who persecute
it (Mt 5:39, 44).
Meekness can do this because it realizes that
the insults and injuries which evil men and women may inflict are
permitted by a sovereign God Who is in complete control and Who is
therefore able to use such events to purify and build godly character in
the one who is insulted or injured. As you can see meekness is
absolutely not a characteristic of man in his natural (fallen, sinful,
unredeemed, unregenerate) state but reflects an inwrought grace of God's
Spirit living in and through him!.
(Adapted from Kay Arthur's highly recommended book
Lord, Only You Can Change Me: A
Devotional Study on Growing in Character from the Beatitudes
which covers Mt 5:1-16, see also her excellent complementary study on -
Lord, I'm Torn Between Two Masters: A
Devotional Study on Genuine Faith from the Sermon on the Mount)
describes the man or woman whose temper is always under complete
control. It means power put under control. The meek person knows when to be angry and when not to be angry.
They patiently bear wrongs to themselves but are ever
chivalrously ready to spring to the help of others who are wronged. When
the meek person becomes angry, he or she is aroused by that which
maligns God's Name or His work or is harmful to others, not by what is
done against himself or herself. There is in fact is a lack of anger
when they are harmed or criticized. And when they do demonstrate a
"righteous anger" (cf Eph 4:26), it is controlled and carefully
directed, not a careless and wild venting of emotion that spatters
everyone who is near. People who are angered at every nuisance or
inconvenience to themselves know nothing of meekness or gentleness or
prautes convey the idea of
tenderness and graciousness, and can be accurately translated
“meekness” and “meek” respectively. But unlike those English words,
the Greek terms do not connote weakness but rather power under
control. The adjective praus was often used of a wild horse that
was broken and made useful to its owner. For believers, to be gentle is
to be willingly under the sovereign control of God. Numbers 12:3
describes Moses as
“very meek, above all the men which
were upon the face of the earth.”
Yet that same
Moses could act decisively, and flared up in anger when provoked.
How would you
describe your attitude, beloved? Are you meek, humble, gentle, and mild,
or do you tend to display an arrogant, selfish attitude toward others?
Gentleness is a
God-honored character trait, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23) and is
never bitter, malicious, self-seeking, self-promoting, arrogant, or
Adam Clarke writes that the
English word "meek"
comes from the old Anglo-Saxon meca,
or meccea, a companion or equal, because he who is of a meek or gentle
spirit, is ever ready to associate with the meanest of those who fear
God, feeling himself superior to none; and well knowing that he has
nothing of spiritual or temporal good but what he
received from the mere bounty of God, having never deserved any favour
from his hand. (Clarke, A. Clarke's Commentary: Matthew).
The person who is
"gentle" or "meek" sees everything as
coming from God and accepting it without murmuring and without
The "gentle, meek"
person (empowered by the indwelling Spirit, gentleness being His fruit)
is enabled to say
"God, in this situation (whatever it
might be), You are in control. You are sovereign and You rule over all.
You have a purpose and that one aspect of Your purpose is to make me
more like Christ."
Robert Johnstone (in his excellent
nineteenth-century commentary on James) has some insightful comments on
meek or gentle writing...
"I do not know that at any point the
opposition between the spirit of the world and the Spirit of Christ is
more marked, more obviously diametrical, than with regard to this
feature of character. That “the meek” should “inherit the
earth”—they who bear wrongs, and exemplify that love which “seeketh
not her own,”—to a world which believes in high-handedness and
self-assertion, and pushing the weakest to the wall, a statement like
this of the Lord from heaven cannot but appear an utter paradox. The man
of the world desires to be counted anything but “meek” or “poor in
spirit,” and would deem such a description of him equivalent to a
charge of unmanliness. Ah, brethren, this is because we have taken in
Satan’s conception of manliness instead of God’s. One Man has been shown
us by God, in whom His ideal of man was embodied; and He, “when He was
reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but
committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously”; He for those who
nailed Him to the tree prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not
what they do.” The world’s spirit of wrath, then, must be folly; whilst
than a spirit of meekness like His, in the midst of controversy,
oppositions, trials of whatever kind, there can be no surer evidence
that “Jesus is made of God to His people wisdom.” (Johnstone,
Robert : A Commentary on James - online)
note on praus states that
"Meekness toward God is that
disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good,
and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are
those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend
them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing
God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to
purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time." (cf
has a lengthy
discussion of praus (and the related word prautes) writing that praus
has two main lines of meanings...
"(a) Aristotle, the great Greek
thinker and teacher, has much to say about praotēs (related to praus).
It was his custom to define every virtue as the mean between two
extremes. On one side there was excess of some quality, on the other
defect; and in between there was exactly its right proportion.
defines praotēs (related to praus) as the mean
between being too angry and never being angry at all.
The man who is praus is the man who
is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. (Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible -online)
Thus a meek individual is one
who is angry on the right occasion with the right people at the right
moment for the right length of time. Stated another way, meekness
is "anger under control" but not just any kind of anger. Meekness is
always the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness. The
man who is meek is able to balance his anger. Since a meek man is
not a self-centered man, the anger is not about that which happens to
him but is rather a righteous anger at what is wrongly done to others.
(See the examples of Moses and Jesus in this discussion)
Barclay goes on to add...
To put that in another way, the man
who is praus is the man who is kindled by indignation at the
wrongs and the sufferings of others, but is never moved to anger by the
wrongs and the insults he himself has to bear. So, then, the man who is
(as in the Authorized Version), meek is the man who is always angry at
the right time but never angry at the wrong time.
(b) There is another fact which will
illumine the meaning of this word. Praus is the Greek for an animal
which has been trained and domesticated until it is completely under
control. Therefore the man who is praus is the man who has every
instinct and every passion under perfect control. It would not be right
to say that such a man is entirely self-controlled, for such
self-control is beyond human power; but it would be right to say that
such a man is God-controlled. (cf Gal 5:23, 2Peter 1:6)" (Matthew 5 Commentary
- Daily Study Bible -online)
Barclay's point, it is notable that the Greek term for meekness
has its roots in the domestication of animals. Think of talk about a
horse that has been "broken," meaning that the animal has learned to
accept control by its master and is properly behaved. From there,
the term has been extended to include people who are properly behaved.
The meek are those of gentle behavior, loving and submissive.
Meekness is the attitude expressed by John Bunyan in
The Pilgrim’s Progress writing...
He that is down needs fear no fall,
He that is low no pride;
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
has a long note on praus, meekness, writing that it is
Another word which, though
never used in a bad sense, Christianity has lifted to a higher plane,
and made the symbol of a higher good. Its primary meaning is mild,
gentle. It was applied to inanimate things, as light, wind, sound,
sickness. It was used of a horse; gentle.
As a human attribute,
Aristotle defines it as the mean between stubborn anger and that.
negativeness of character which is incapable of even righteous
indignation: according to which it is tantamount to equanimity. Plato
opposes it to fierceness or cruelty, and uses it of humanity to the
condemned; but also of the conciliatory demeanor of a demagogue seeking
popularity and power. Pindar applies it to a king, mild or kind to the
citizens, and Herodotus uses it as opposed to anger.
These pre-Christian meanings
of the word exhibit two general characteristics.
1. They express outward
conduct merely. 2. They contemplate relations to men only.
The Christian word, on the contrary, describes an inward
quality, and that as related primarily to God.
The equanimity, mildness,
kindness, represented by the classical word, are founded in self-control
or in natural disposition. The Christian meekness is based on
humility, which is not a natural quality but an outgrowth of a renewed
To the pagan the word often
implied condescension, to the Christian it implies submission.
The Christian quality in its
manifestation, reveals all that was best in the heathen virtue —
mildness, gentleness, equanimity — but these manifestations toward men
are emphasized as outgrowths of a spiritual relation to God.
The mildness or kindness of
Plato or Pindar imply no sense of inferiority in those who exhibit them;
sometimes the contrary. Plato’s demagogue is kindly from self-interest
and as a means to tyranny. Pindar’s king is condescendingly kind.
The meekness of the
Christian springs from a sense of the inferiority of the creature to the
Creator (cf Mt 5:3), and especially of the sinful creature to the holy
God (Mt 5:4). While, therefore, the pagan quality is redolent of
self-assertion, the Christian quality carries the flavor of
As toward God,
therefore, meekness accepts his dealings without murmur or resistance as
absolutely good and wise.
As toward man, it
accepts opposition, insult, and provocation, as God’s permitted
ministers of a chastening demanded by the infirmity and corruption of
sin; while, under this sense of his own sinfulness, the meek bears
patiently “the contradiction of sinners against himself,” forgiving and
restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness, considering himself, lest
he also be tempted (see Gal 6:1–5). The ideas of forgiveness and
restoration nowhere attach to the classical word. They belong
exclusively to Christian meekness, which thus shows itself allied to
love. (Vincent, M. R. Word studies in the New Testament Vol. 1, Page
conveys the idea of "controlled strength" and is that humble and gentle
attitude that expresses itself in a patient submissiveness.
it...if gentleness or meekness governs the circumstances we encounter
rather than the circumstances governing us, it has to be powerful.
the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. The meek have a
special happiness because they are free of pride and ambition.
The gentle or
meek are those who accept all as coming from God and
demonstrate that same behavior to others in a gentleness of life, which
is the fruit of the Spirit.
an equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down because it
is not occupied with self at all.
There is no discord possible on the bassviol to a
string that does not exist, or that has not been brought to any tension.
(H. W. Beecher.)
J C Ryle says that the meek are...
He means those who are of a
patient and contented spirit. They are willing to put up with little
honor here below; they can bear injuries without resentment; they are
not ready to take offense. Like Lazarus in the parable, they are content
to wait for their good things (Luke 16:20). Blessed are all such! They
are never losers in the long run. One day they will “reign on the
earth” (Revelation 5:10). (Ryle, J. C. Matthew.)
J Vernon McGee asks...
How do you become meek?
Our Lord was meek and lowly, and He will inherit all things; we are the
heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. We are told that the
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, temperance, and meekness. Only the Spirit of God can
break you and make you meek. If you could produce meekness by your own
effort, you would be proud of yourself, wouldn’t you? And out goes your
meekness! Meekness is not produced by self-effort but by Spirit effort.
Only the Holy Spirit can produce meekness in the heart of a yielded
Christian... The Beatitudes present goals which the child of God wants
to realize in his own life, but he can’t do it on his own. You may have
heard of the preacher who had a message entitled “Meekness and How I
Attained It.” He said that he hadn’t delivered his message yet, but as
soon as he got an audience big enough, he was going to give it! Well, I
have a notion that he had long since lost his meekness. Meekness can
only be a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (McGee,
J. V. Thru the Bible commentary. Vol. 4, Page 30. Nashville: Thomas
Nelson) (Bolding added)
D Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes an interesting
observation regarding how meekness is contrasted with the first
two beatitudes noting that...
here (meekness) we are
reaching a point at which we begin to be concerned about other people.
Let me put it like this. I can see my own utter nothingness and
helplessness face-to-face with the demands of the gospel and the law of
God (the first beatitude, "poor in spirit"). I am aware, when I am
honest with myself, of the sin and the evil that are within me, and that
drag me down (the second beatitude, "those who mourn"). And I am ready
to face both these things.
But how much more difficult
it is to allow other people to say things like that about me! I
instinctively resent it. We all of us prefer to condemn ourselves than
to allow somebody else to condemn us. I say of myself that I am a
sinner, but instinctively I do not like anybody else to say I am a
sinner. That is the principle that is introduced at this point. So far,
I myself have been looking at myself. Now, other people are looking at
me, and I am in a relationship to them, and they are doing certain
things to me. How do I react to that? That is the matter which is dealt
with at this point. I think you will agree that this is more humbling
and more humiliating than everything that has gone before. (Meekness) is
to allow other people to put the searchlight upon me instead of my doing
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
example of praus is our Lord Jesus Christ and how He walked and
responded even to those who mistreated and falsely accused Him
(1Peter 2:18-25). He did not operate with deceit, did not return derogatory
remarks and did not threaten even though He had more right to do so as
Creator than anyone ever created. He kept His mouth closed & prayed. He
continually entrusted Himself to God, knowing that God knew his unjust
treatment & that He would judge righteously. Jesus' purpose was not to
judge (at least not as a Man) but to win over the sinner. Jesus then is
the wife's (and all believer's) Example, Role model and most importantly
our Enabler (through the Spirit of Christ Who indwells all believers) to
supernaturally exhibit this gentle spirit. (1Th 5:24).
Meekness caused Joseph to look beyond the murderous
intentions and cruel actions of his brothers to the sovereignty of God.
And he was ready to accept all of God's dealings with him without
bitterness. As the brothers justifiably feared for their lives, in
meekness, the Joseph exhibits the perfect example of power under control
"Do not be
afraid, for am I in God's place? And as for you, you meant evil against
me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present
result, to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 50:19-20)
In the New Testament Jesus is our example of
perfect gentleness or meekness, in His famous invitation...
28 "Come to
Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest
(refresh you, cause you to cease from movement or labor in order to
recover your strength, which emphasizes the restorative character of the
29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle
(meek - praus) and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST
(noun form of "rest" in v28) FOR YOUR SOULS.
30 "For My yoke is easy (profitable, good for any
use, easy to bear chrestos see
chrestotes), and My
load is light." (Mt 11:28-30)
A yoke was a wooden frame which was put
on the backs of animals and around their necks joining the two animals
for a common task, such as plowing or pulling a load.
If you were yoked with Jesus Christ,
who do you think would "pull the load"? Obviously the Lord. And
so in order to manifest meekness we must yoke ourselves to Jesus, for He
is the very essence and epitome of meekness. He promises us that if we
take His we will find the rest of available in a meek, humble heart. The
picture would have been very familiar to Jesus' audience for in Biblical
times a young ox was commonly yoked to an older, more experienced ox so
that the older ox might train the younger to perform properly. For
example, by bearing the same yoke, the untrained ox would soon learn the
proper pace and how to heed the direction of the master. By analogy
believers learn by being yoked to Christ, as we surrender to His will in
every area of your life.
His yoke is "easy" in that it is good and profitable
and has nothing harsh or galling about it. Christ's yoke is not one
which chafes, irks or galls, but is smooth and even. Hence, the term
suggests that gracious nature which mellows that which otherwise would
have been harsh and austere. Christ yoke is "easy" in that it is
well-fitting. In Palestine ox yokes were made of wood. The ox was
brought, and the measurements were taken. The yoke was then roughed out,
and the ox was brought back to have the yoke tried on. The yoke was
carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of
the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox. And so is His
yoke for you beloved, for He is "gentle and humble in heart". Learn
meekness from the Master's touch.
Christ shows as alluded to earlier that meekness is
by no means a reflection of weakness or a spineless character. In fact,
as stated, genuine Spirit given meekness is
anger under control. Anger that is properly motivated and apportioned.
In short, it is a "righteous anger". It follows that meekness is not
apathy, not a milquetoast mentality, nor a doormat demeanor! Let's look
at how our gentle Lord manifested his "meekness" in appropriate anger...
Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and
doves, and the moneychangers seated.
15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple,
with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the
moneychangers, and overturned their tables;
16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things
away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise."
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE
WILL CONSUME ME." (John 2:17-18)
The meekness of Christ could not ignore the
moneychangers and sacrifice sellers. Instead we see His meekness
manifest at the right time against the right people and for the right
In fulfillment of Zechariah's
prophecy (Zech 9:9),
as Jesus prepares for His triumphal entry in His last week in Jerusalem,
"BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU,
GENTLE (praus), AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL
OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'" (Mt 21:5)
Kent Hughes sums up Jesus as the incarnation
of meekness noting that
displayed it in two ways, both of which showed his power. In respect to
his own person, he practiced neither retaliation nor vindictiveness.
When he was mocked and spat upon, he answered nothing, for he trusted
his Father. As we have noted, when he was confronted by Pilate, he kept
silent. When his friends betrayed him and fled, he uttered no reproach.
When Peter denied him, Jesus restored him to fellowship and service.
When Judas came and kissed him in Gethsemane, Jesus called him "friend."
And Jesus meant it. He was never insincere. Even in the throes of death,
he pleaded, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are
doing" (Luke 23:34). In all of this Jesus, meek and mild, was in
control. He radiated power.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
Crossway Books) (Bolding
Yet, when it came to matters of faith and the welfare of others, Jesus
was a lion. He rebuked the Pharisees' hardness of heart when he healed
the man's withered hand on the Sabbath (Mt 12:9-45). He was angered when
his disciples tried to prevent little children from coming to him (Mark
10:13-16). Jesus made a whip and drove the moneychangers from the temple
(John 2:14-17). He called Peter "Satan" after the outspoken fisherman
tried to deter him from His heavenly mission (Mt 16:21-23). All of this
came from Jesus, the incarnation of gentleness.
Bringing this all together, we have an amazing picture. The one who is
meek has a gentle spirit because he trusts God. Indeed, there is a
caress about his presence. At the same time the meek person possesses
immense strength and self-control, which he exhibits in extending love
rather than retaliation against those who do him evil. He stands up
fearlessly in defense of others or of the truth as the occasion arises.
(Hughes, R. K.
Hughes goes on to note some practical
benchmarks by which you can assess whether you are manifesting the
meekness Christ's calls for...
Harshness: If you are mean in your treatment of others, if there is
an absence of gentleness in your treatment of others, take heed.
• Grasping: If you make sure you always get yours first, if
numero uno is the subtle driving force in your life, if you care little
about how your actions affect others, beware.
• Vengeful: If you are known as someone never to cross, if you
always get your "pound of flesh," be on your guard.
• Uncontrolled: If rage fills your soul so that life is a series
of explosions occasioned by the "fools" in your life, watch out.
Again, this is not to suggest that you are not a Christian if you fall
into these sins, but rather to point out that if they are part of your
persona, if you are a self-satisfied "Christian" who thinks that the
lack of gentleness and meekness is "just you" and people will have to
get used to it, if you are not repentant, you are probably not a
Christian. (Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
Crossway Books) (Bolding added)
Matthew Henry has an excellent summary of
are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to His word and to His
rod, who follow His directions, and comply with His designs, and are
gentle towards all men (see note
Titus 3:2 ); who can bear provocation without
being inflamed by it; are either silent, or return a soft answer; and
who can show their displeasure when there is occasion for it, without
being transported into any indecencies; who can be cool when others are
hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls, when they
can scarcely keep possession of any thing else.
the meek, who are rarely and hardly provoked, but quickly and easily
pacified; and who would rather forgive twenty injuries than revenge one,
having the rule of their own spirits. (Matthew Henry's
Commentary on the Whole Bible)
Barton explains that...
realize their position before God (Mt 5:3) and gladly live it out before
their fellow humans. They do not look down on themselves, but they do
not think too highly of themselves either. Such people exemplify the
Golden Rule. They are not arrogant; they are the opposite of those who
seek to gain as much for themselves as possible. Ironically, then, it
will not be the arrogant, wealthy, harsh people who get everything.
Instead, the meek will inherit the earth. (Barton,
B. B. Matthew. Life application Bible commentary. Page 77. Wheaton,
Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how one can know
when he or she is truly meek. Here is his test...
who is truly meek is the man who is amazed that God and man can think of
him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do."
(Lloyd-Jones, D. M.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
As Hughes notes this
"test as to
whether we are truly meek is not whether we can say we are poor sinners,
but rather what we do when someone else calls us vile sinners. Try it!
(Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
Why is meekness so important? Why not just be
Christians who have good manners and a good standing in the community?
Our Lord is not calling us to business as usual but to be radical
believers who emulate His character, character that shows the reality of
His life in and through our lives, especially as seen in this
paradoxical trait of non-retaliatory power under control. The world is
dead in its trespasses and sins and desperately needs to see the meek,
gentle spirit of Christ in and through you dear follower of Christ. Will
you surrender to His call?
proposition I shall insist on, is that meek people are blessed people.
For the right understanding of this, we must know there is a twofold
meekness. Meekness towards God, meekness towards man.
1. Meekness towards GOD, which implies two things: submission to his
will; flexibleness to his Word.
 Submission to God's WILL: when we react calmly, without swelling or
murmuring, under the adverse dispensations of providence. 'It is the
Lord's will. Let him do what he thinks best' (1 Samuel 3:18). The
meek-spirited Christian says thus: 'Let God do what he will with me, let
him carve out whatever condition he pleases, I will submit.' God sees
what is best for me, whether a fertile soil or a barren. Let him chequer
his work as he please, it suffices that God has done it. It was an
unmeek spirit in the prophet to struggle with God: 'I do well to be
angry to the death!' (Jonah 4:9).
 Flexibleness to God's WORD: when we are willing to let the Word bear
sway in our souls and become pliable to all its laws and maxims. He is
spiritually meek who conforms himself to the mind of God, and does not
quarrel with the instructions of the Word—but with the corruptions of
his heart. Cornelius' speech to Peter savored of a meek spirit: 'Now
here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given
you' (Acts 10:33). How happy is it when the Word which comes with
majesty, is received with meekness! (James 1:21).
2. Meekness towards MAN. Basil calls this 'the indelible character of a
gracious soul.' 'Blessed are the meek'. To illustrate this, I shall show
what this meekness is. Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by the
Spirit of God to moderate our angry passions. It is a grace. The
philosopher calls it a virtue—but the apostle calls it a grace, and
therefore reckons it among the 'fruit of the Spirit' (Galatians 5:23).
It is of a divine extract and original. By it we are enabled to moderate
our passion. By nature the heart is like a troubled sea, casting forth
the foam of anger and wrath. Now meekness calms the passions. It sits as
moderator in the soul, quieting and giving check to its distempered
motions. As the moon serves to temper and allay the heat of the sun, so
Christian meekness allays the heat of passion. Meekness of spirit not
only fits us for communion with God—but for civil converse with men; and
thus among all the graces it holds first place. Meekness has a divine
beauty and sweetness in it. It brings credit to true religion; it wins
upon all. This meekness consists in three things: the bearing of
injuries, the forgiving of injuries, the recompensing good for evil.
(See full message
FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH:
hoti autoi kleronomesousin (3PFAI) ten gen: (Psalms
25:13; 37:9,11,22,29,34; Isaiah 60:21; Romans 4:13)
Spurgeon comments that...
The quiet-spirited, the gentle, the
self-sacrificing,-It looks as if they would be pushed out of the world
but they shall not be, “for they shall inherit the earth.” The wolves
devour the sheep, yet there are more sheep in the world than there are
wolves, and the sheep, continue to multiply, and to feed in green
Who is the man who fears the LORD? He
will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in
prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. (Psalm 25:12,13)
Spurgeon on His seed shall
inherit the earth.
God remembers Isaac for the sake of
Abraham, and Jacob for the sake of Isaac. Good men's sons have a goodly
portion to begin the world with, but many of them, alas! turn a father's
blessing into a curse. The promise is not broken because in some
instances men wilfully refuse to receive it; moreover, it is in its
spiritual meaning that it now holds good; our spiritual seed do inherit
all that was meant by "the earth," or Canaan; they receive the blessing
of the new covenant. May the Lord make us the joyful parents of many
spiritual children, and we shall have no fears about their maintenance,
for the Lord will make each one of them princes in all the earth.
Sermon by Spurgeon on
Psalm 47:4 A Wise Desire
(autos) is emphatic placed first in the Greek construction which
means "they" and "they only" will inherit the earth. Only the meek. None
other! A present and a future inheritance as explained below.
kleros [word study]
= First a pebble, piece of wood
used in casting lots as in Acts 1:26 then the allotted portion or
inheritance, and so a lot, heritage, inheritance + nemomai = to
possess; see word study -
Kleronomos) means to receive a share of an inheritance, inherit a portion
of property or receive a possession as gift from someone who has died.
Kleronomeo - 18x in 17v -
Matt 5:5; 19:29; 25:34; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25; 18:18; 1 Cor 6:9f;
15:50; Gal 4:30; 5:21; Heb 1:4, 14; 6:12; 12:17; 1 Pet 3:9; Rev 21:7
Kleronomeo - 133x in thenon-apocryphal
- Gen 15:3f, 7f; 21:10;
22:17; 24:60; 28:4; 47:27; Exod 23:30; Lev 20:24; Num 14:24, 31; 18:20,
23f; 21:35; 26:53, 55; 27:11; 32:19; 33:54; 34:17; 35:8; Deut 1:8, 21,
39; 2:9, 24, 31; 3:12; 4:1, 5, 14, 22, 26, 38, 47; 5:33; 6:1, 18; 7:1;
8:1; 9:1, 4ff, 23; 10:11; 11:8, 10f, 23, 29, 31; 12:2, 29; 16:20; 17:14;
20:16; 21:1; 23:20; 28:21, 63; 30:5, 16, 18; 31:13; 32:47; 33:23; Josh
1:15; 12:7; 14:2; 16:4; 17:6, 14; 18:2f; 19:9; 22:9; 24:4; Judg 1:18ff;
3:13; 11:2, 21, 23f; 18:9; 1 Kgs 21:15f, 18f; 2 Kgs 17:24; 1 Chr 28:8;
Ezra 9:11; Neh 9:15, 22f, 25; Ps 5:1; 25:13; 37:9, 11, 22, 29; 44:3;
69:35; 83:12; 105:44; 119:111; Prov 3:35; 11:29; 13:22; Isa 14:21;
17:14; 34:17; 49:8; 53:12; 54:3; 57:13; 58:11; 60:21; 61:7; 63:18; 65:9;
Ezek 35:10; 36:12; Hos 9:6; Obad 1:20; Zeph 2:9; Zech 9:4
But the humble will inherit the land,
and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (Ps 37:11)
Psalm 37, which encourages God's
people (in context the Jews, but in application all who have been
grafted into the rich root of the olive tree, cf Ro 11:17-24, 8:17) not
to fret because of evil, but rather to trust because of this sure
For those blessed by Him will inherit the land; but those cursed by Him
will be cut off. (Ps 37:22) (Summarizes the entire Psalm)
Hughes has an interesting explanation of the believer's
inheritance of the earth even in this life writing that...
there is also a present inheritance
that abundantly enriches our earthly existence. There is a sense in
which those who set their minds on riches never possess anything. This
was given classic expression by one of the world's wealthiest men when
asked how much is enough money. "Just a little bit more," he answered.
He owned everything, yet possessed nothing! (Ed note: possessions
usually do that to the natural, unregenerate man - they possess him!)
It is the meek who own the earth now, for when their life is free from
the tyranny of "just a little more," when a gentle spirit caresses their
approach to their rights, then they possess all. As Izaak Walton
I could there sit quietly, and
looking on the waters see fishes leaping at flies of several shapes and
colors. Looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with woods and
groves. Looking down the meadows, I could see a boy gathering lilies and
lady-smocks, and there a girl cropping columbines and cowslips, all to
make garlands suitable to this present month of May. As I thus sat,
joying in mine own happy condition, I did thankfully remember what my
Saviour said, that the meek possess the earth.
The meek are the only ones who
inherit the earth. The "they" in "they shall inherit"
is emphatic: "They alone, only they, shall inherit the earth." They are
rich right now; and fifty billion trillion years into eternity they will
be lavishing in the unfolding of "the incomparable riches of his grace"
(Ephesians 2:7). (Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
D Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes
The meek already inherit the earth in
this life, in this way. A man who is truly meek is a man who is always
satisfied (cf meaning of makarios, blessed, as fully satisfied
independent of one's circumstances), he is a man who is already content.
Goldsmith expresses it well when he says: 'Having nothing yet hath all.'
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
George MacDonald puts it
We cannot see the world as God means
it in the future, save as our souls are characterized by meekness. In
meekness we are its only inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual
retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them
neither imperfection nor impurity.
Matthew Henry comments it
Not that they (the meek) shall always
have much of the (present) earth, much less that they shall be put off
with that only; but this branch of godliness has, in a special manner,
the promise of life that now is. Meekness, however ridiculed and
run down, has a real tendency to promote our health, wealth, comfort,
and safety, even in this world. The meek and quiet are observed to live
the most easy lives, compared with the froward and turbulent. (Ibid)
As Spurgeon reminds us...
Some say that the best way to get
through the world is to swagger along with a coarse impudence, and to
push out of your way all who may be in it;
but there is no truth in
that idea. The truth lies in quite another direction: “Blessed are the
meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
C H Spurgeon also writes the following on meekness
But who are the meek? Not those who grieve at
nothing, because they know nothing; who are not discomposed at the evils
that occur, because they discern not evil from good. Not those who are
sheltered from the shocks of life by a stupid insensibility, who have
either by nature or art the virtue of stocks and stones and resent
nothing, because they feel nothing. Brute
philosophers are wholly unconcerned in this matter. Apathy is as far
from meekness as from humanity. So that one would not easily conceive
how any Christians of the purer ages, especially any of the fathers of
the church, could confound these and mistake one of the foulest errors
of heathenism for a branch of true Christianity.
Nor does Christian meekness imply the being
without zeal for God any more than it does ignorance
or insensibility. No; it keeps clear of every extreme, whether in excess
or defect. It does not destroy but balance the affections which the God
of nature never designed should be rooted out by grace, but only brought
and keep under due regulations. It poises the mind aright. It holds an
even scale without regard to anger, and sorrow, and fear; reserving the
mean in every circumstance of life, and not declining either to the
right hand or the left.
Meekness therefore seems properly to relate to
ourselves, but it may be referred either to God or our neighbor. When
this due composure of mind has reference to God, it is usually termed
resignation, a calm acquiescence in whatsoever is his will concerning
us, even though it may not be pleasing to nature; saying continually,
is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” When we consider it
more strictly with regard to ourselves, we style it patience or
contentedness. When it is exerted toward other men, then it is mildness
to the good and gentleness to the evil.
They who are truly meek can clearly discern what is
evil, and they can also suffer it. They are sensible of everything of
this kind, but still meekness holds the reins. They are exceeding
“zealous for the Lord of Hosts,” but their zeal is always guided by
knowledge, and tempered in every thought, word, and work with the love
of man as well as the love of God. They do not desire to extinguish any
of the passions which God has for wise ends
implanted in their nature, but they have the mastery of all; they hold
them all in subjection and employ them only in subservience to those
ends. And thus even the harsher and more unpleasing passions are
applicable to the noblest purposes; even hatred, anger, and fear, when
engaged against sin and regulated by faith and love, are as walls and
bulwarks to the soul so that the wicked one cannot approach to hurt it.
It is evident this divine temper is not only to abide
but to increase in us day by day. Occasions of exercising, and thereby
increasing it, will never be wanting while we remain upon earth. “We
have need of patience, that after we have done [and suffered] the will
of God, we may receive the promise.” We have need of resignation, that
we may in all circumstances say, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” And
we have need of “gentleness toward all men”;
but especially toward the evil and unthankful. Otherwise, we shall be
overcome of evil instead of overcoming evil with good.
Nor does meekness restrain only the outward act, as
the scribes and Pharisees taught of old, and the miserable teachers who
are not taught of God will not fail to do in all ages. Our Lord guards
against this and shows the true extent of it in the following words: “Ye
have heard, that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill;
and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment,” verse 21;
“But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a
cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to
his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever
shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Our Lord here ranks under the head of murder even
that anger which goes no farther than the heart, which does not show
itself by any outward unkindness, no, not so much as a passionate word.
“Whosoever is angry with his brother,” with any man living, seeing we
are all brethren; whosoever feels any unkindness in his heart, any
temper contrary to love; whosoever is angry without a cause, without a
sufficient cause, or
farther than that cause requires, “shall be in danger
of the judgment”; shall,
in that moment, be obnoxious to
the righteous judgment of God.
But would not one be
inclined to prefer the reading of without a cause?
Is it not entirely superfluous? For if
anger at persons be a temper contrary to
love, how can there be a cause, a sufficient cause for it, any that will
justify it in the sight of God?
Anger at sin we allow. In this sense, we may be angry
and yet we sin not. In this sense our Lord himself is once recorded to
have been angry. “He looked round about upon them with anger, being
grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” He was grieved at the
sinners and angry at the sin. And this is undoubtedly
right before God.
“And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,”
whosoever shall give way to anger, so as to utter any contemptuous word.
It is observed by commentators, that “raca” is a Syriac word, which
properly signifies, empty, vain, foolish;
so that it is as inoffensive an expression as can well be used toward
one at whom we are displeased. And yet, whosoever shall use this, as our
Lord assures us, “shall be in danger of the council”; rather, shall be
obnoxious thereto: he shall be liable to a severer sentence from the
Judge of all the earth.
“But whosoever shall say, Thou fool,” whosoever shall
so give place to the devil, as to break out into reviling, into
designedly reproachful and contumelious language, “shall be obnoxious to
hell fire”: shall, in that instant, be liable to the highest
condemnation. It should be observed that our Lord describes all these as
obnoxious to capital punishment. The first to strangling, usually
inflicted on those who were condemned in one of the inferior courts; the
second to stoning, which was frequently inflicted on those who were
condemned by the great council at Jerusalem; the third to burning alive,
inflicted only on the highest offenders in the “valley of the sons of Hinnom.”
And whereas men naturally imagine that God will
excuse their defect in some duties for their exactness in others, our
Lord next takes care to cut off that vain though common imagination. He
shows that it is impossible for any sinner to
commute with God, who
will not accept one duty for another nor take a part of obedience for
the whole. He warns us that the performing our
duty to God will not excuse us from our duty to our neighbor; that works
of piety, as they are called, will be so far from commending us to God,
if we are wanting in charity, that, on the contrary, that want of
charity will make all those works an abomination to the Lord.
“Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and
there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee,”—on account
of thy unkind behavior toward him, of thy calling him, Raca, or Thou
fool; think not that thy gift will atone for thy anger; or that it will
find any acceptance with God, so long as thy conscience is defiled with
the guilt of unrepented sin. “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and
go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother” (at least do all that in
thee lies toward being reconciled), “and then come and offer thy gift,”
verses 23 and 24.
And let there be no delay in what so nearly
concerneth thy soul. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”; now, upon the
spot; “while thou art in the way with him”; if it be possible, before he
go out of thy sight, “lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the
judge,” lest he appeal to God, the Judge of all; “and
the judge deliver thee to the officer,” to Satan, the executioner of the
wrath of God; “and thou be cast into prison,” into hell, there to be
reserved to the judgment of the great day. “Verily, I say unto thee,
Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the
uttermost farthing.” But this it is impossible for thee ever to do,
seeing thou hast nothing to pay. Therefore, if thou art once in that
prison, the smoke of thy torment must “ascend up forever and ever.”
Meanwhile, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Such
is the foolishness of worldly wisdom! The wise of the world had warned
them again and again, “That if they did not resent such treatment, if
they would tamely suffer themselves to be thus abused, there would be no
living for them upon earth; that they would never be able to procure the
common necessaries of life, nor to keep even what they had; that they
could expect no peace, no quiet possession, no enjoyment of anything.”
Most true. Suppose there were no God in the world, or, suppose he did
not concern himself with the children of men; but “when God ariseth to
judgment, and to help all the meek upon earth,” how doth he laugh all
this heathen wisdom to scorn, and turn the “fierceness of man to his
praise”! He takes a peculiar care to provide them with all things
needful for life and godliness; he secures to them the provision he hath
made, in spite of the force, fraud, or malice of men; and what he
secures he gives them richly to enjoy. It is sweet to them, be it little
or much. As in patience they possess their souls, so they truly possess
whatever God hath given them. They are always content, always pleased
with what they have: it pleases them, because it pleases God: so that
while their heart, their desire, their joy is in heaven, they may truly
be said to “inherit the earth.”
But there seems to be a yet further meaning in these
words, even that they shall have a more eminent part in “the new earth,
wherein dwelleth righteousness”; in that inheritance, a general
description of which (and the particulars we shall know hereafter) Saint
John hath given in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation: “And I saw
an angel come down from heaven, and he laid hold on the dragon, that old
serpent, and bound him a thousand years. And I saw the souls of them
that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God,
and of them which had not worshipped the
beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their
foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a
thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the
thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed
and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the
second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of
Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Our Daily Bread has the following devotional illustration...
According to Bill Farmer's newspaper column, J. Upton Dickson was a
fun-loving fellow who said he was writing a book entitled Cower Power.
He also founded a group for submissive people and called it DOORMATS
(Dependent Organization Of Really Meek And Timid Souls—if there are no
objections). Their motto was: "The meek shall inherit the earth—if
that's okay with everybody." Their symbol was the yellow traffic light.Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Mr. Dickson sounds like he'd be a lot of fun. What disturbs me about all
of this, though, is that many people assume that such humorous ideas
represent the true quality of meekness set forth in Matthew 5:5. Many,
even in the church, think that to be meek is to be weak. But the
opposite is true. What the Bible is talking about is a powerful virtue.
The slogan "strong enough to be gentle" comes close to defining it. True
meekness is best seen in Christ. He was submissive, never resisting or
disputing the will of God. His absolute trust in the Father enabled Him
to show compassion, courage, and self-sacrifice even in the most
When we are meek, we will bear insults without lashing out in resentment
or retaliation. We'll thank God in every circumstance, while using every
circumstance, good or bad, as an occasion to submit to Him. Meekness
would be weakness if it meant yielding to sin. But because it stems from
goodness and godliness, it is a great strength.—M. R. DeHaan II (
Meekness is strength harnessed for service.
In his book Blessed Are Ye, F B Meyer has this chapter on mercy -
THE HERITAGE OF THE EARTH
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.--Matt. 5:5.
THIS is the third regiment in the Lord's great army, the third gate into
the blessed life, the third step downward to the throne. But what sort
of character is indicated? And how do the meek differ from the poor in
There is evidently a distinction. The Lord said that He was meek and
lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29); whilst the apostle plied his converts with
motives borrowed from the lowliness and meekness of Christ (see note
Ephesians 4:2). But what
is that distinction? The key to it is suggested by a passage from that
memorable last epistle, in which Paul the aged gave his final
instructions to the young Timothy, and especially as to his behavior
toward those who opposed themselves. " The servant of the Lord," he
says, " must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach,
patient in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves " (see
2 Timothy 2:24;
25). Here meekness
seems specially demanded, when we are summoned to meet the opponents of
our faith or the traducers of our personal testimony.
May we not say, therefore, that poverty of spirit and lowliness of mind
are one and the same thing, and denote the attitude of the spirit toward
God, when conscious of the immeasurable distance between His majesty and
its minuteness, His purity and its sinfulness; whilst meekness is the
attitude of the spirit toward men, and especially toward the wrong of
the world--to the evil that men perpetrate on each other, and especially
on the saints of God?
Lowliness will always be a characteristic attribute of true saintliness.
The very elders fall down before the throne, and cast their crowns at
the feet of God in utter self-abasement. But, in heaven, though meekness
will always shine with its mild ray in the prismatic band of perfection,
there will be less room for its, exercise, for those that oppose will
have been taken out of the way, whilst the enemy and avenger will have
been forever stilled.
Meekness is consistent with strength of character.--It is not
always thought so. Meekness is often used as a synonym for weakness, and
meek people held in a considerable degree of contempt. There is no
epithet that men of the world would more quickly and vehemently resent
than the appellation " meek." A young officer would rather have a
paving-stone hurled at him than this. A molluscous flabbiness, a
contemptible namby-pambyism, an absence of backbone and muscle are the
ideas which are generally summoned to our mind, when a man is classed
among the meek.
Here, as so often, the superficial judgment of the world is falsified by
a wide acquaintance with human character. Moses, the meekest of men, was
the strong leader of the Jewish exodus, the Justinian of the Hebrew
commonwealth, the Washington of the Jewish state. "The meek Paul was as
strong in bearing persecution, as he had formerly been in inflicting it,
and stood like a rock against the insidious and persistent attempts of
the Judaizers. His strong common sense laid the broad foundations of the
Church in such wise that Jew and Gentile could meet as one. His strong
intellect has laid the march of religious thought for eighteen
centuries. And who shall say that Jesus Christ was not strong, viewing
His nature only from the human side? Lamb though He was, He was the Lion
of the Tribe of Judah. The meekness with which He received the insults
of His foes did not veil the strength which extorted the involuntary
homage of Pilate. What strength to resist the soft seductions of the
tempting voices that bade Him spare Himself! What strength to carry out
the purpose of redemption, though He knew well all it would involve!
Man's misconception of this strength of meekness is largely due to the
gentle guise which she adopts, the restraint which she exercises over
herself, her soft footfall, her modulated tones. They do not pierce
through the hiding of her power, and realize that there is even greater
power required for the restraining of the manifestations of power, than
in letting them have free play. It is a stronger thing for a man of
vehement and impetuous temper to speak and act gently in the face of
great provocation, than to blurt out indignant words and bluster like a
north-east wind! The soft hand that restrains the fiery steed, is
obviously as strong, and stronger. Ah! passionate souls, that pour out
showers of glowing coals at every provocation, ye little know how
evident is your weakness, where ye vaunt yourselves of strength, and how
much more evident your strength would be if ye made the unruly passions
within heed the strong sway of a steadfast purpose.
The meek man resists the incitement of personal resentment.--When
wrong approaches us, it awakens two sentiments in our hearts, the one
personal, the other more general; the first is the quickest and keenest,
the other manifests itself generally after years of learning in the
school of experience. It is natural for us to be stung to the quick by a
feeling of resentment under rebuff, or slight, or rudeness, or wrong. It
is, perhaps, rather an acquirement when men so identify their wrongs
with the evil of the world that they pass from the consideration of
personal indignity, absorbed by the view of the sea of tears and blood
which is weltering around the world, visiting every shore, invading
With the meek man this order is reversed. When wrong is done to him, he
is led by the grace of God to mourn over it, as an indication of the
misery of the soul that perpetrates the wrong, and of the great weight
of injustice and tyranny beneath which the world groans. In other words,
he suffers like a child of the Great Father; understands something of
the anguish of God's heart in contact with the wrong of the world;
leaves God to vindicate and avenge, and prays for the speedy coming of
the day when all wrongs shall be righted, and tears wiped. The meek man
joins his prayers with those of Christ, the supreme Sufferer, that the
Father would forgive those who do more evil than they know.
The meek man is a quiet man.--The Apostle Peter beautifully joins
these two virtues together when he says that women are not to seek their
adornments in jewels or dress, but in the garb of the meek and quiet
spirit. The meek spirit is quiet. It bears and suffers in silence. It
does not retail its wrongs, save in the ear of God, and then it does not
ask Him to requite, but to convert. It weeps more for the wrong-doer
than for its wounds, though they may bleed freely. It anoints its head,
and washes its face, and appears not to men to suffer. Nipped by the
sharp frost, it does not waste regret over its tender shoots, but
strikes its roots deeper down into the dark loam of mother-earth. And
out of this quiet confidence comes the heroic strength which bears,
believes, hopes, and endures all things, till it conquers by the sheer
force of patience. Nothing will so soon stop cannon shot as sand.
The meek man rather bears wrong.--When the apostle was urging his
converts not to go to law with one another, he said to them, " Why do ye
not rather take wrong?" What a mistake it is to allow the passion that
would do us harm to ignite a kindred passion! Let us understand that the
evil of speech and act which would injure us is set on fire of hell, and
nothing could better fulfil the purpose of our great adversary than that
the passions should pass from the wrong-doer to the wronged, and from
him again to others. When the brazier is full of coals, and it is
overturned so as to ignite a house, we have an illustration of the way
in which a man whose soul is filled with rancor, malice, and envy may
spread his thoughts and feelings. This is the great peril for us all.
Men of quick temper are extremely inflammable. They are like touchwood
to the flame, gunpowder to the spark. The meek man, on the contrary,
meets wrong with a passive resistance which quenches its fire; with a
calm and gentle answer he turns away wrath. With a resolute refusal to
be inflamed, he establishes a quarantine through which the first germs
of the epidemic cannot pass. The spirit of meekness resembles the
eucalyptus: it is antiseptic, especially to the spread of passion. If we
could only surround every angry man with a ring of meek souls, his
passion would burn itself out with comparative small damage.
The meek man believes that the evil wrought to him is permitted by
God for wise purposes.--As David climbs Olivet, Shimei comes out to
curse him. Abishai urges to be allowed to still his vituperations
forever, but the meek king says, " God hath said, Curse David. Let him
curse." In those strong and bitter words David detected another voice,
the voice of One who loved him as a Father, whilst He held his sin in
utter detestation. Oh, it is well always to look for the appointment or
permission of God l His appointment in the chastisement which comes in
the course of providence, His permission in the stripes which come to us
from the hands of the children of men. It is easy to be meek toward
Judas and the mailed band when we can say, Shall I not drink the cup
which my Father hath put into my hands?
The meek are marvellously guided.--"The meek will He guide in
judgment: and the meek will He teach his way." The passionate soul is
unable to detect the movements of God's guiding pillar. Passion raises a
storm which blurs the heavens and ruffles the calm waters of the lake.
In the eagerness with which the many waters of the soul argue and
advise, the still small voice of the Divine Counsellor is drowned. When,
therefore, you have been wronged, be calm and still. Wait for God. He
will indicate the way He would have you take, the answer He would have
you write, the acts of love with which you should retaliate.
The meek shall be vindicated.--It is foretold of the Messiah that
He shall " reprove with equity for the meek of the earth." Not only
hereafter, but now, is the judgment-seat set up, at which the oppressed
plead their cause against their oppressors, and the Lord hearkens and
hears. It is remarkable how perpetually wrongs perpetrated on the
defenceless come back, like the boomerang of the savage, on their
persecutors. Into the pit they dig they fall. Adonibezek cuts off the
thumbs and toes of seventy kings, and his own are cut off. The Jews
crucify Jesus of Nazareth, and so many of them are crucified by the
Romans that wood fails for the crosses. The Rover sinks the Inchcape
bell, and perishes on the rock from which it tolled.
The meek shall inherit the earth.--Even now the meek soul gets
the best out of life. The world does not think so. It thinks that the
meek must be worsted because they will not stand upon their rights, nor
wield the sword in self-defence, nor meet men on their own terms. But,
as ever, Christ's words stand the .test of experience. The meek find
more pleasure in simple joys than wrong-doers in all their wealth. Pure
hearts find wells of peace and bliss in common sights and sounds. There
is no twinge of conscience or bitter memory of wrong-doing to jar on the
sweet consent of holy song ever arising in nature. The lowly valley of
Bunyan's Shepherd Boy had as much delight as the Delectable Mountains
themselves. Do not be greatly concerned when wrong is done you. Possess
your soul in patience. Hide under the wing of God. Do not let anything
rob you of your power of being glad with children, birds, flowers,
humble and innocent joys.
Without doubt the time is coming when the world itself will be conquered
by the meekness and gentleness of Christ and His saints. The gentle dawn
will master the blustering night; the soft-treading spring will quell
the storms of winter. The knights of the cross, clad in the soft
garments of holiness and gentleness, shall yet dissipate the dark
squadrons of sin.
Wouldst thou have this meekness? There is no fountain from which it
flows save that opened in the heart of Christ, and communicated by the
Spirit of God, whose fruit it is. How meekly the Spirit of God has borne
with the strife, rejection, contradiction of men. What consummate
meekness was ever manifested by our holy Lord! Let us abide in Him,
asking that He will repeat in us His characteristic grace, and enable us
to breathe again upon the world the spirit by which He was animated in
life and death.
O meek and gentle Saviour, who, when Thou wast reviled, revilest not
again, when Thou didst suffer, threatened not, give me thou Spirit, that
I may be calm and strong in the endurance of wrong, and overcome evil
with good. F. B. Meyer. Blessed Are Ye.
F B Meyer on THE PASSIVE SIDE OF THE BLESSED
LIFE (Matt. 5:1-12.) (Click
for first part of Meyer's discussion)
Many ancient authorities
place meekness next, and it seems the natural order, for the soul
that realizes its own nothingness and helplessness is likely to be meek.
The meek are so occupied with their desire that God's grace should pass
through them to their fellows that they are prepared to sink all
considerations of their own standing and position so long as nothing may
interfere with the effect for which they long. Their only thought is to
carry their point, to bless men who do not want to be blessed, to
vanquish hate by love, and rebellion by loving-kindness and tender
mercy. They cannot afford, therefore, to be always standing on their own
dignity and defending their own rights. These are willingly cast into
the furnace to augment the flame, that the obdurate metal may be fused.
"Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we
entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all
things; but all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace
through the thanksgiving of many may abound to the glory of God."
The way to become meek is
to be absorbingly taken up with the love of Christ for me. Be lowly
before God, allowing His love to enter and fill thy heart, and thou wilt
find it easy to be meek towards man. Thy pride will be driven out by the
expulsive power of the new affection. Thou wilt be prepared to accept
flouts and sneers, if only thou canst bless and help others; even as God
who answers not the blasphemous and hard things that are said against
Him, but continues to send His rain and cause His sun to shine to bring
men back in penitence to His heart.
It would be a great
mistake, however, to suppose that the meek are cowardly, deficient in
strength of purpose or force of will: they are among the strongest and
most strenuous of men. But they are strong in patience and strenuous in
seeking the salvation of others. Let the cause of righteousness,
justice, or truth be in question, none are so unbending or stalwart as
they. Of the wrongs done to themselves they are disposed to take no
count, but they dare not refrain from bearing witness, both by speech
and act, whenever the sacred majesty of truth is assailed and in danger
of being trampled under foot.
It is natural that the meek
should become those that mourn. They feel keenly the evil of sin and the
sanctity of sorrow; like Him who sighed as He touched the tongue of the
dumb, groaned as lie came to the grave of His friend, and wept as He
beheld the city.
Of all mourners, Jeremiah is one of the most plaintive. There is no
lyric on the page of history to be compared with the Book of
"Mine eye runneth down with
rivers of water."
"Mine eye poureth down and ceaseth not."
"Mine eye affecteth my soul."
When we turn from the sin
of the world, the woes of men, the high-handed wrong of the great, and
the abject poverty, sorrow, and anguish of heart of the oppressed, to
the sin of our own hearts, the broken ideals, the frustrated purposes,
the perpetual contrast between what we would be and what we are, surely
our tears must have more salt in them, and cut deeper courses in their
There surely is no need to
show the way for mourning such as this. Look above thee and see the
Christ stand, so pure, so chaste, so glorious in the light in which He
arrays Himself as with a garment, and thou wilt abhor thyself and repent
in the dust. Look around thee, and try to estimate the weight of a
world's apostasy, the deluge of tears, the hurricane of sighs, that
mount up to heaven. "Ah, it's a sair world, my masters!"
But the mourners are not
content to shed tears only, they hunger and thirst after righteousness.
St. Augustine says that they hunger and thirst after the Righteous One,
" Jesus Christ the Righteous." They were made for Him, and will never be
satisfied until they attain to the fruition of all their hopes, to know
Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His
Without doubt such is their
supreme desire, and as included in this they hunger and thirst for the
ultimate triumph of righteousness in their own hearts and in the world
of men. Every moan of pain, every consciousness of failure, every
temporary triumph of reactionary and destructive forces, elicits the
more urgent and persistent prayer, "Thy Kingdom come." The personal
coming of the Lord is desired not primarily because the Bride desires
the Bridegroom, but because the subject longs for the triumph of that
Kingdom which is righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost.
This aspiration is noble.
Some hungers are ignoble, despicable, and base. But this is shared in by
God Himself, whose Spirit longs with inexpressible desire to bring to an
end the present condition of things in the vindication and manifestation
of His sons. The angels, as they behold the evil and pain of our earth;
the champion of the rights of men, who wrestles with the hydra-headed
and protean evil of his age; the wronged womanhood of the harem and the
street; the dumb creation groaning and travailing with enormous and
cruel wrongs, all join in this blessed hunger and thirst, the aspiration
which amounts to a sure and certain hope that cannot be ashamed.
Thou needest not be taught
this, for thou hast often felt it. Amid the violet light of a dying
summer's day, when soft and lovely music, songs without words, is
filling the entranced and listening air, when some heroic stand for
liberty is drowned and quenched in blood, when the white robes of the
soul have been stained and polluted by some recent fall, then the soul
hungers with an intolerable pain, and thirsts, as the wounded hart for
water-brooks, that righteousness should set up its blessed and
all-conquering reign. F. B. Meyer. The Directory of the Devout Life