Meekness



MEEKNESS (עֲנָוָה, H6708; πρᾳότης, πρᾳυ̂της).

Meaning of meekness.

Meekness is one of the most commonly misunderstood terms applied to godliness. It has been interpreted in a variety of ways, from weakness and timidity to strength and self-control. The Heb. עֲנָוָה, H6708, tr. “meekness,” is from anwah, “to bend over,” “to bow down,” “to labor or toil,” “to bend down,” “to be low, depressed or humble.” Other derived meanings, and those more nearly meeting the demands of the various uses, are humility, piety, gentleness or condescension. These are comprehensive enough to apply to God and to various Bible characters, as Moses, Jesus, and Paul. While humility and piety are human qualities only, gentleness and condescension may be both human and divine. “Thy help (gentleness) made me great” (2 Sam 22:36; Ps 18:35). Other shades of meaning are poverty, sickness, affliction, and oppression. These, however, are not synonyms, but may contribute to a spirit of meekness.

Merits of meekness.

The meek are specially blessed with divine care and rich rewards. In recording God’s rebuke of Miriam and Aaron for speaking against Moses, the writer states, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3). David cried, “O Lord, thou wilt hear the desire of the meek” (Ps 10:17). Isaiah prophesied that the messianic King would “decide with equity for the meek of the earth,” and then “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord” (Isa 11:4; 29:19). David offered the oppressed people encouragement by saying that the wicked would soon disappear, “But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps 37:11). The land David referred to was Pal., but Jesus promised greater possessions: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). The meek then have access to God’s constant protection and boundless love.

Virtues of meekness.


Bibliography

Davies-Mitchell, Student’s Hebrew Lexicon (1960), 480f.; W. T. Purkiser, Exploring Our Christian Faith (1960), 178, 437-440; 462-465; G. Gordh, Christian Faith and Its Cultural Expression (1962), 119-123; Mould-Richardson-Berkey, Essentials of Bible History (1966), 122, 150f., 337, 516, 682ff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


In the Apocrypha also "meekness" holds a high place (Ecclesiasticus 1:27, "The fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction: faith and meekness are his delight," the Revised Version (British and American) "in faith and meekness is his good pleasure"; Ecclesiasticus 3:19, "Mysteries are revealed unto the meek" (the Revised Version (British and American) omits); compare 10:14).


The interchangeableness of "meek" with "poor," etc., in the Old Testament ought to be specially noted. our Lord’s opening of His ministry at Nazareth (Lu 4:18, "He anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor"), and His message to John (Mt 11:5, "The poor have good tidings preached to them") are in harmony therewith.