Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the lid. This is the maxim of every man. For this, man will lose sleep and and trouble himself. But meekness can achieve more than all this hurry and confusion.
They readily believe that “in all labor there is profit,” but let God Himself tell them, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” They will not take his word for it, but they say, as it follows there, “No, for we will flee upon horses, and we will ride upon the swift.” (Isa. 30:15-16) He that came from heaven to bless us has entailed a special blessing upon the grace of meekness, “Blessed are the meek”; and his saying they are blessed makes them so, for those whom he blesses are blessed indeed: “blessed, and they shall be blessed.”
Meekness is profitable, first of all, because it is the condition of a promise. The meek are blessed “for they shall inherit the earth.”
This quotation from Psalm 37:11 is almost the only express promise of temporal good things in all the New Testament.
Wycliffe’s translation of that verse says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall wield the earth.”
Good management contributes more to our contributes more to our comfort than great possessions. Whatever a meek man has of this earth he knows how to wield it, to make a right and good use of it; that is all in all. Quiet souls so far inherit the earth that they are sure to have as much of it as is good for them: as much as will serve to bear their charges through this world to a better; and who would covet more? Enough is as good as a feast. The promise of God without present possession is better than possession of the world without an interest in the promise.
So it seems in summary, that the meek man, because he is content, feels that whatever he has been given is the inheritance of the earth, and it is enough for him; and in that sense, he has inherited more than those with more than him who are still unhappy and seeking for more. And still, he is promised more, even if he doesn’t currently possess it. That promise is more precious, more of an inheritance, than to own the world currently, without an interest in the promise.
Meekness is profitable, secondly, because “it has in its own nature a direct tendency to our present benefit and advantage.”
Here are the good influences that meekness has on us. It has a good influence on our health, wealth, and safety.
Health: If jealousy is the “rottenness of the bones,” (Prov 14:30), meekness “is the preservation of them.” A meek and quiet spirit cools our anger and depressions and adds days to our life and peace. Notice how Job 5:2 ends: “health to the navel, and marrow to the bones; length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add unto thee: but wrath kills the foolish man.”
Wealth: “As in kingdoms, so in families and neighborhoods, war begets poverty….Contention will as soon cloth a man with rags as slothfulness; that, therefore, which keeps the peace befriends the plenty.” Revenge is costly, as we see when Haman paid 10,000 talents of silver for it. But when Jacob didn’t fight with his father-in-law, but instead broke with him as quietly as possible, he lost nothing.
Seth and I have often talked about the causes of poverty, since we live amongst it and see so many friends touched by it. There are many causes of poverty, even many subpoints under the heading cause of “sin.” But one that seems way too underestimated for its strength is the poverty that broken families beget. So many of the Africans do not have a father at home supporting them, and many families were begun with no father ever promised to support them. If meekness were present, how many of these family break-ups would be prevented (and thus wealth would be preserved?) And we could talk in the same way of the statistics relating to divorce and finances in the States or other Western countries.
Safety: “In the day of the Lord’s anger the meek of the earth are most likely to be secured.” I just taught my Sunday School class of David’s meekness towards Saul, when he could have killed him twice, but did not: and Saul is melted by David’s meekness: “Is this thy voice, my son David? I have sinned, return, my son David.” And after that, Saul left him alone. David was safe.
Also notice Jacob’s meekness towards Esau when he returned, and we see an unusual Hebrew text about Esau’s kissing him. “There is a point over every letter, to put the reader in mind to take special notice of it.”
1 Peter 3:13 says, “Who is he that will harm you, if you be follower of him that is good?” Matthew Henry adds,
Who draws his sword, or cocks his pistol at the harmless silent lamb? But everyone is ready to do it at the furious barking dog. Thus does the meek man escape many of those perplexing troubles, those woes, and sorrows, and wounds without cause which he that is passionate, provoking, and revengeful pulls upon his own head.
I can vouch for that. The annoying village mutt that came in my yard the other day provoked my children and me until I chased it and sprained my ankle in an uneven hole in the yard. I’m not sure if my lack of safety was due to my lack of meekness or the pup’s. What do you say?
This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.
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