History is filled with stories where it appears that those who do evil prosper while righteous and God-loving people suffer without cause. In Psalm 37, troubled people find the encouraging reminder that wrongdoers will not endure forever, and that “the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (verse 11). Hundreds of years later, Jesus made a similar statement in the Sermon on the Mount, reassuring his disciples that regardless of their present situation, the meek “will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Often, the meaning of both verses is unclear to present-day readers because of an incomplete understanding of the word “meek.” Modern dictionaries often add to its generally negative connotation by equating it with words like “timid,” “tame,” “submissive” and “docile.” But since Jesus used the same Greek term to describe himself (Matthew 11:28 – 29; translated “gentle”), the better definition of meekness is a more accurate characterization of the biblical meaning.
Scripture declares Christ to be unequaled in power and authority (Matthew 26:53; 28:18; John 1:1 – 4; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3). Yet despite his rightful position as the Son of God, he willingly submitted himself to his Father (John 8:28; 12:49 – 50; 14:10; Philippians 2:6 – 8). In his interactions with people on earth, he was confident, firm and spoke fearlessly to those who opposed or misrepresented God (Matthew 23:13 – 39); at the same time, to those in need he was approachable, compassionate and gentle (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34; Mark 6:34; Luke 7:13; John 11:34 – 38).
Jesus used the agricultural analogy of two oxen joined by a yoke to invite his followers to embrace an attitude of meekness as they enter into relationship with him (Matthew 11:28 – 29). A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the neck of two or more animals to unite them in pulling a plow or cart.
In a world where so many things leave people depleted and empty, Jesus promises restoration, nurture and rekindled strength to the spiritually meek. He grants them the power to face whatever life brings with a confident assurance that God is “their stronghold in time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39) and that “the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (verse 29).
Article drawn from The Jesus Bible, NIV.