For those not familiar with the Beatitudes, Jesus phrases in Matthew 5 what will be given as blessings to those who have endured hardship in life. The descriptions begin with the poor in spirit being given the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3) and ends with Jesus telling those listening (and eventually reading) that they will be rewarded by God for enduring persecution as did the prophets before them (Matt. 5:11-12).
"The meek shall inherit the earth."
The term “meek” is defined, by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as being non-violent or strong; submissive; suffering injury with patience; and being without courage or spirit. Society has also accepted this definition to describe people who are meek, viewing them as people who always go with the flow and never cause conflict or stand up for themselves. However, the word meek is seen through a different lens by Jesus, described succinctly in Matthew 5:5 as the personality type that will inherit the earth no less. Then what does it mean to be meek in God’s eyes, when it is viewed almost in a disdained manner by the world? Let’s unpack this biblical mindset more and see why those who are viewed as submissive are more than conquerors to God.
What Did Jesus Mean When He Said 'the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth'?
We begin this discussion by talking about the actual Scripture verse referencing the blessing of the meek, found in Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek. They will inherit the earth” (NKJV).
As part of the Beatitudes, Jesus Christ spoke these words while on a mountain to His disciples, after healing multitudes of people and becoming recognized within many synagogues for His adept knowledge of the Bible. For those not familiar with the Beatitudes, Jesus phrases in Matthew 5 what will be given as blessings to those who have endured hardship in life. The descriptions begin with the poor in spirit being given the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3) and ends with Jesus telling those listening (and eventually reading) that they will be rewarded by God for enduring persecution as did the prophets before them (Matt. 5:11-12).
The passage describing the meek inheriting the earth can be found after the passages of how those who mourn will be comforted and before those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matt. 5:6). Just as it is viewed today, being meek was seen in Jesus’s time as being without power or authority, as someone who could easily be manipulated into doing anything and not standing for what he or she believed in. However, Jesus means through this verse that those who are seen as forgettable or more of a follower than a leader will actually become memorable leaders over the earth. They will be the ones others turn to for advice, comfort, and the strength to face obstacles not only physically but spiritually as well.
What Does it Mean to Be Meek?
As we learned at the start of this article, meek is defined in the dictionary as patient during affliction, submissive, and non-confrontational. Yet while this may be what the dictionary says, and what people of today (and in Jesus’s time) might believe, Jesus didn’t see meek as being anything but powerful. There are many other references to meek in the Bible (Prov. 16:19; 1 Pet. 3:4; Isa. 66:2): Psalm 37:11 mirrors that of Matthew 5:5 by stating, “But the meek will inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
In the eyes of God, voiced by Jesus, being meek is seen as being peaceful, humble, and clear-minded to what is most important in life. Being meek means that you will follow God’s guidance in this life; that instead of saying you won’t share the gospel with a person who might be seen as less than you, you will gladly share with him or her this life-changing news. Meek people are people who don’t boast about their achievements or how many people admire and respect them; they, instead, put the needs of others ahead of their own glory. Meek people recognize most that we are all children of God and are taken care of by our Father as we help the needs of others.
Let’s just say you won’t say that a meek person gossips too much about him or herself or others, or only makes choices that are to the detriment of others. A meek person is the complete opposite, always thinking of others more than themselves.
'The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth' Why? Why Is it True that 'The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth'?
As we continue to reference Matthew 5:5, the first question above might cause many to wonder the same. If being meek is, by definition, not a quality people want to brag about, then how could the person be seen as blessed? Well, therein lies the understanding: People don’t brag about being meek, but it shows more strongly than people who only want the attention on them. They are blessed because they know what it means to live humbly and to be thankful for everything given to them. Those that revel in their accomplishments and gifts completely forget that it wasn’t their efforts that brought those gifts but God. God instills in us the talents and abilities to achieve what we achieve each day, but some get caught up in the gift and forget to thank the giver.
So, for those who realize it is not their efforts that bring the blessings but God’s, that means more blessings will be given to them, which is inheriting the earth and leading it forward. I know, as we all do, from personal experience that the people you want to hear the most of their testimonies are those who have had everything thrown at them in life, yet they find the blessings in the midst of it and thank God for all He has given them. That explains also why we gravitate to the stories of Joseph, Job, Ruth, and Jesus Himself because these are stories of people who didn’t think highly of themselves, or lowly, but knew they could accomplish much because of who their Creator was. The meek shall inherit the earth because of their humility and selflessness.
Meekness Is Finding Strength in God
When someone is defined as being meek, for centuries, and even in the present day, it is considered to be a downfall in character than an attribute. However, through the perspective of Jesus in Matthew 5:5, being meek is a quality that God admires and showers blessings upon the person who displays a quiet, thoughtful personality. The earth and all its blessings will be inherited by those society sees as meek, because the earth and its people need those who are humble in spirit and who care for the needs of others more than glorifying themselves. The earth needs people who know God cares for their needs and leads them every moment of the day.
Several verses in the Bible depict meekness as a great quality in a person and stories of individuals who came from humble beginnings or who showed meekness when pride could get the best of them are what people seek most to read and emulate. So be meek, even when it is frowned upon by those around you, because meekness is more pleasing to the Father who gives us so much. And get to know people who are meek in your life, as they carry wisdom and an understanding about life that many of us can learn from. Meekness is not a weakness, but an inner strength and confidence shaped by God to see that what life throws at us has already been conquered and overcome by our Savior through death.
Why Will the Meek Inherit the Earth?
Why Does Scripture Say "Blessed are the Meek, for They Will Inherit the Earth"?
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Blair Parke is a freelance writer for BibleStudyTools.com and freelance book editor who wrote her first book, "Empty Hands Made Full," in 2021 about her journey through infertility with her husband. She previously worked for eight years with Xulon Press as an editor. A graduate of Stetson University with a bachelor's in communications, Blair previously worked as a writer/editor for several local magazines in the Central Florida area, including Celebration Independent and Lake Magazine and currently writes for the Southwest Orlando Bulletin. She's usually found with a book in her hand or enjoying quality time with her husband Jeremy and dog Molly. You can order her book at Christian Author Bookstore - Xulon Press Publishing and visit her website at Parkeplaceediting.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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Iron Sharpens Iron
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Faith without Works Is Dead
Be Anxious for Nothing