Matthew Henry points out that “meekness can be considered with respect both to God and to our brethren.” We usually think of meekness as referring to the second part of Moses’ law, which is summed up as loving our neighbor as ourselves. But there is also a meekness towards God, which is “easy and quiet submission of the soul to His whole will,” which He makes known to us either through His Word, or through His providential acts in our lives.
Last week I summarized Henry’s points on meekness or submission to God’s Word. This week I’ll focus on meekness towards God’s plans for us, especially when those plans are difficult for us to understand or accept.
Most parents are familiar with what I affectionately term the “toddler tug.” You know, the lift-the-tyke-up-by-one-arm-with-toddler’s-toes-barely-brushing-the-floor maneuver? Usually applied as parent rushes forward to implement whatever plan must be forced upon the child, either against said tot’s will, or simply because junior wasn’t moving fast enough. I whipped my lil’ bundle of uncleanness (using the toddler tug) towards the restroom the other day, and later wondered if that’s what I look like when God implements His plans for me.
Either I’m like, “Nooooooooooooo!” feet barely touching the ground as I’m dragged towards a plan I stubbornly have decided isn’t right for me; or I’m like Carson, playing around with my own plans and timetables, and thus have to be pushed into the correct course of action. But either way doesn’t look like submissive meekness to God’s plan for my life.
Henry suggests that meekness towards God’s plans for us include a meek spirit even when what God allows to happen is…
- a grief and pain to us,
- or perhaps when it is simply not joyous,
- or when it prevents us from what we thought was a good plan.
Meekness will quiet us under God’s plans for us, bringing us peace, enabling us to accept both the good and the evil from God’s hand.
If He cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder Him? —Job 11:10
Even if this means we must be disciplined by God because of our sin, a meek spirit will accept it as God’s just actions, not attributing evil to Him, or complaining about what He does. When two of Aaron’s sons died before the Lord for worshipping in a wrong way in the Tabernacle, Aaron “held his peace.” He meekly accepted God’s judgment. Perhaps God’s mercy to him earlier when he made the golden calf and led the Israelites in idolatry helped him to learn meekness to God’s justice. Perhaps we in the same way can accept God’s justice towards ourselves when we remember the great mercy we’ve already been shown.
It was different with David when he led the return of the ark of the covenant back to its proper place in Israel, and God’s anger was kindled against Uzzah for thinking that his hands were cleaner than the dirt and so he touched the ark so that it wouldn’t fall. When Uzzah died for his offense, David “was displeased.”
When God’s anger is kindled ours must be stifled; such is the law of meekness that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us.
Not only he can do what he will, subscribing to his power, for who can stay his hand? Or, he may do what he will, subscribing to his sovereignty, for he gives not account of any of his matters. Or, he will do what he will, subscribing to his unchangeableness, for he is in one mind, and who can turn him? But, “Let him do what he will,” subscribing to his wisdom and goodness, as Hezekiah said, “Good is the will of the Lord.” Isaiah 39:8
Let him do what he will for he will do what is best, and therefore if God should refer the matter to me, says the meek and quiet soul, being well assured that he knows what is good for me better than I do for myself, I would refer it to him again.
This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.
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