Part three of notes I’ve made while studying the Beatitudes. Part two is here. I apologise for the slightly rubbish title this time round.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
I will confess, I had to look up “meek” online . It’s one of those words you hear, almost always in this context, that you think you know what it means, but don’t really. It’s a translation of the greek word praeis, which is also used to denote gentleness and humility.
I’d always imagined a meek person as being a sort of Walter the Softy (from Dennis the Menace)- type character, and I think that, with language evolving and all, this is what it has come to mean now. However, while I don’t think this kind of extreme is what Jesus had in mind, I think what he is saying is that the mourning (from the previous beatitude) and the promise of comfort would lead to a gentle humility as we patiently wait for the coming kingdom. What does that look like?
This is explained further along in the Sermon on the Mount (turning the other cheek etc.)- the meekness required is not clinging to one’s rights, seeking position, or pretentiousness. It is gentle patience and contentment in response to the Grace God has shown us (which we accept after mourning on the realisation that we are spiritually bankrupt) , in the certain hope of a future inheritance. Scripture is full of examples of such, and indeed the saying itself is nothing new (see Psalm 37:11). The ultimate example is that of Jesus (see Philippians 2), whose meekness did not preclude him from taking charge of situations as needed be (eg correcting the Pharisees and clearing out the Temple).
What is the reward for the meek? They will inherit the earth (Revelation 5). From whom? Presumably those who are not meek (if this is indeed a direct reference to Psalm 37, it is the wicked from whom the land is to be inherited), who are boastful, arrogant, and clinging to their rights. So we can be confident that while in this life, the wicked can prosper, their reign on the earth will be short-lived, and there will come a time when those who have patiently endured much (that is, the Kingdom of God) in the face of injustice will have their turn, which will last forever.