Blessed Are the Meek
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)
Like all living things, our English language is constantly shifting and morphing. Words come in and out of our daily usage almost as quickly as fashions change. Even if you are not a “sluberdegullion,” it would take a lot of effort to keep some of our antiquated words alive.
And sometimes our words remain in place--it is just the meanings that get altered over time. One of the scholars leading the group that maintains the text of the New International Version of the Bible provides a wonderful example of this from Judges 16:7-9. If an earlier version of this text were read today, one could be forgiven if momentarily confused by the appearance of a “thong” in the narrative.
And so it is with the word “meek” that appears in our verse today. What do you think of when you hear someone described as meek? Are they quiet? Timid? Scared of their own shadow? Sadly, this is often how the word is used today. But when Biblical scholars and translators look for synonyms for this word, they often turn to gentleness or humility or submissiveness. Some define it as “power under control.”
To help us better understand the attribute that Jesus is describing here, let’s turn to an almost identical passage in the Old Testament—Psalm 37:11. In this passage, David tells us, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Sounds very similar, right? Perhaps we can get a better idea of what David and Jesus were talking about as we look at some other verses in this psalm that describe this person.
Reliant Upon God's Power
Read the first eleven verses of Psalm 37. What other characteristics of a meek person do we see? David paints a picture of a person that is restrained and thoughtful and submissive to the plan of our sovereign God. In verses 3 and 5, this person is described as one who trusts in the Lord. In verse 7, they are still before God and wait patiently for Him. They are not fretting and worrying or taking matters into their own hands. Even in the face of evil men and wrongdoers (a word I fear may need our support to remain in our active lexicon), this person of meekness commits to follow God and to rely on God’s strength and power to right wrongs and secure justice.
While I hope that very few of us will literally find ourselves wrestling against wicked and evil men, we live in a fallen world where these dark influences are all around us. We see hatred, bigotry, injustice, greed, and coronavirus all around. Fear grows well in such fertile soils. But as followers of Christ and worshippers of an all-powerful God, we have not been given a “spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:17).” In his infinite wisdom and love for us, God is the source of this power.
Who are the Meek?
So, who then are the meek? Those who know Christ. Those filled with this Spirit. Those who find their strength in Him and not from themselves. Those who know that His power and grace only increase as we recognize our own weakness and frailties (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Those who look forward to a day without fear, without prejudice, without death, and without viruses. A day when all will be made right. And those who trust and know that only our sovereign God can make it so.
By God’s grace, may we all enjoy the blessing of the meek.