Meekness is Not Weakness (Psalm 37)

Bob RoaneLoving and Trusting God, Psalms, Wise living

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

God is Beautifying Us

Pastor Scott Sauls says that many of the world’s most accomplished people became their best selves because of their distress, not in spite of it. Hymn writer William Cowper wrote hopeful hymns and artist Vincent Van Gogh created peaceful  paintings while both were contemplating suicide. Charles Spurgeon preached some of his best sermons while depressed. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr. battled melancholy. Beethoven, the great composer, went deaf. C. S. Lewis’ wife Joy Davidman died of cancer after only four years of marriage. Elie Wiesel and Corrie Ten Boom both survived the holocaust. Joni Eareckson Tada has been paralyzed from the shoulders down since age 17. Yet she still goes on to serve others, especially people with disabilities. Pastor John Perkins endured jail, beatings, and death threats from white supremacists, but he forgave his enemies, imitating Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”1

Grief expert Elizabeth Kubler-Ross observed, “The most beautiful people are often those who have known defeat, suffering, struggle, loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern for others. Beautiful people do not just happen.”2

Submitting to God’s control is a hard and fearful thing for us who spend lots of time and energy trying to be in control. In Psalm 37, King David keeps on trusting God, making attitude adjustments, and showing us how to love and follow Christ in tough times.

This builds on When We Are Frustrated, Frustration or Faith in Christ?, and Hope Beyond Frustration

Meek People Will Inherit the Land and Enjoy Peace and Prosperity (Psalm 37:11)

The Hebrew word for meek here is anav. It can also mean poor, afflicted, oppressed, humble, and lowly. It reminds me of these Scriptures, “Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before Him….Whoever listens to the Lord will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”3

Jesus alludes to Psalm 37:11 when He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”4 Christ Himself embodies this virtue and the New Testament calls Him humble and gentle. Meekness means treating others (even enemies) in a modest and caring way, not using brute force to get our way. Psychologists describe “Sherman Tank People” who are bullies, abusive, abrupt, attacking, and intimidating. But that is not the way of Christ and His true people.

Strength Under Control

The Hoover Dam produces enough hydroelectric energy for California, Nevada, and Arizona. The river’s power is harnessed and kept under control. But if all the water was released, it would bring disaster to the three states it was designed to help. Some people lose all self-control and go crazy, doing sinful things that hurt themselves and others. They have lose the ability to discipline their own life force, the power they have within them.

Dr. Tony Evans says that meekness is not weakness, but rather living with uncontrolled emotions and sinful desires is foolish and flawed. Most of the chaos we see in homes, communities, churches, and our culture is due to a lack of self-control and failure to submit to King Jesus’ rule. Christ calls us to a better way, living with self-restraint, surrendering our gifts, skills, talents, and personal strength to God’s authority. The Holy Spirit gives Jesus’ followers power, love, and self-discipline.5

People Who Live Near to God

Listen to these Scriptures in Isaiah: “For this is what the high and exalted God says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite….I look on with favor on those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.’”6

Nothing is more powerful than meekness. For as fire is extinguished by water, so a mind inflamed by anger is subdued by meekness. By meekness, we practice and make known our Christ-likeness, and also cause the resentment of others to cease, and deliver their minds from disturbance. (John Chrysostom)

Be Content in Jesus (Psalm 37:16-17)

These verses say: “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked. For the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous (Christ’s followers).” It reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”7

Contentment is being satisfied with what we have, and not desiring more. It is accepting what we cannot change or control, trusting that God’s mysterious ways are best for us. Psalm 37, Philippians, and the whole Bible urge us to find more pleasure in our relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) than in our earthly comforts and conveniences. If we are not contented in Christ with the positions and possessions we have, we will not be satisfied even if our earthly blessings are doubled.

Psalm 37 reminds me of the closing words in Habakkuk: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines. Even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren. Even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT)

The more we appreciate the blessings we have in Jesus,
the less we crave the things we don’t have.

To be continued

Notes (various Bible translations):  1 Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen, page 22, and Luke 23:34.     2 Adapted from Death: The Final Stage of Growth.     3 Ecc 8:12; Prov 1:33.     4 Matt 5:5.     5 2 Tim 1:7.     6 Isaiah 57:15, 66:2.     7 Philippians 4:12-13.