What does it mean to be meek? Does meek mean weak? Why are the meek blessed by God? What did Jesus mean by this Beatitude? This poem is based on the third Beatitude, verse five of The Beatitudes, Matthew Chapter 5:1-12. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
In ancient Greek, meek was a popular word that meant strength under control. In the English language, meek has both a positive and a negative meaning. Its original meaning held a positive sense: gentle, patient restraint, someone who is able to remain calm and subdued even when being provoked. In modern English, it also has a negative meaning: overly submissive, deficient in spirit and courage, submissive. Meek is no longer a commonly used word instead, the word humble is used, which means the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance, freedom from pride or arrogance. This Beatitude can be understood in both meanings, positive and negative.
The Setting of The Beatitudes
63 BC was at the height of the Roman empire when Pompei The Great ruled. It marked the end of Jewish independence and land ownership. Now Rome ruled over them. Jews became slaves and servants to Romans. Caesar Augustus ruled during Jesus’ childhood and was one of ancient Rome’s most successful leaders. He imposed heavy taxation on citizens throughout the Roman Empire. Herod The Great, known as the king of the Jews, ruled the Jews under Caesar. The great building campaigns of Herod were funded by the taxes paid by the citizens of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea; leaving the majority of people living in poverty.
After decades of Roman rule, many Jewish village families fell increasingly into debt and were faced with the loss of their family inheritance of land. The impoverishment of families led to the disintegration of village communities. These are precisely the deteriorating living conditions that Jesus mentions in the Gospels: impoverishment, hunger, and debt.
The whole of the Roman Empire lived under military enforced ‘peace.’ The Jewish people had already lived subject to the Babylon, Assyria, Persia and Greeks Empires, and then finally Rome. They considered themselves as still living in exile in their own land waiting, hoping for a new exodus from God. That God would send a saviour to free His chosen people from the oppression of the Roman empire.
Rome’s desire for domination over the world was challenged by Jesus’ announcement of His Lordship through humility. Jesus called God’s people to live within the ruling governing systems while holding to God’s high standards. The domination, tax burden, and imperial worship of the Roman Empire and Emperor was the world in which Jesus lived and died. Beverley Joy
The Jews wanted to hear Jesus say
‘Blessed are the powerful’ not ‘Blessed are the meek’
To defeat Caesar and his empire
And become the new king and kingdom.
The meek and humble don’t assert themselves
They are not consumed with their own agenda
True strength and power are not self-centred.
A meek and humble believer
Has a peaceful submission to God
Like a soothing medicine, a gentle breeze
A strong wind that is under control.
Like a broken colt – tame and docile
Whose strength and power are channelled for good
Meekness is not a weakness
It is power under control.
Meekness is like a tamed lion
Still strong yet it has yielded up its will
A wild horse under control
Now harnessed and useable.
The loyal soldier gives up his own power,
His agenda, his will, he is not a coward
He gives up his purpose, goals and ambition
To come under his King’s command and wishes.
The farmer plants and reaps in meekness
In sync with God’s laws of nature
For him to sow and reap out of season
Would mean foolish failure of his crop.
A meek spirit is pliable, flexible, obedient
With no trace of its untamed,
Independent nature remains.
The meek rest in God, trust in Him,
Delight in God, commit to His will,
They do not fret, they are not cowardice.
The meek and humble are not idle,
Defiant, nor proud in self
Not a wimp, with no backbone.
This is how Jesus lived His life
He was no coward nor weak
Jesus did not threaten or defend himself
Nor act in His own defence.
Meekness is power under control
Jesus was meek and tenderhearted
Joseph did not avenge his brothers
He was not insecure, he was sure of himself.
David did not kill Saul when he had the chance
He didn’t act in his own defence when cursed by a citizen
Moses was meek, yet the greatest of leaders.
Meekness combines courage, strength and conviction
Gentle and kind when dealing with others
Yet forceful when standing for God’s truth.
The meek have confidence in God
They give Him the glory
Brings peace and unity
Receives criticism well.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
So, humble yourselves before the Lord,
And he will lift you up.
“I am finished with myself”
God brings us to the end of ourselves
The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
Which, in God’s sight is very precious.
A flower growing out of the ashes of pride
Do I respond humbly and obediently to God’s Word?
Am I angry when God is dishonoured,
Or only when I am dishonoured?
Am I more concerned about God being disgraced
Or when I am disgraced?
Am I more concerned about God’s purposes
Or when mine are not being fulfilled?
Do I always seek to make peace?
A new heaven and a new earth
The former passed away
All things are made new.
A new city for the King of all kings
Jesus shall reign forever Amen
Where God will dwell among His chosen
He will be our God and we, His people.
Beverley Joy © 2021 Simply Story Poetry
You can listen to all my poems on several podcast platforms here
Matthew 5:1-12 The Zondervan NASB Study Bible copyright © 1999 Zondervan