The English language is one of, if not the most, complicated languages in the world, but not because there is a word for every emotion or feeling. Our language tends to do an injustice to words derived from other ancient or historic languages. We suffer from this repercussion at various points in the Bible. Due to imperfect substitutionary words, translating from the original languages of Scripture into English sometimes costs us the full meaning of the Hebrew and Greek.
One word that comes to mind is meek. What does it mean to say someone is meek? Some equate meekness with weakness. The Merriam-Webster defines meekness as a “deficient in spirit and courage . . . submissive . . . not violent or strong.” Even the dictionary’s example of the word used in a sentence reads, “a meek child dominated by his brothers.” Certainly we, in striving for biblical manhood, would never want to seen as weak men of God, weak husbands, or weak employees. We can’t even go to the gym or to a football game without being driven by the fear of seeming weak. There is a cultural and grammatical understanding of meekness to mean near-inability, the absence of strength, to have no backbone, or to lose your ground.
Others simply offer Jesus as an example of meekness without being able to point to why He fits the description. It’s not difficult to define the word according to a modern dictionary, but it can be a task to figure out what meek means in the Bible. Is it submission? Is it gentleness? Is it peacemaking? Is this an accurate depiction of what Jesus means in Matthew 5:5 when He said, “Blessed are the meek?” Blessed are the spineless men? Blessed are the men who are pushovers? Certainly not.
We have to redefine meekness, but we have to do it on Biblical terms. While the world may be unsettled on what the word means, the Bible is clear on it. Jesus is clear on it. We only have a precious few of Jesus’ words in the Bible, and the concept of meekness was important enough for Him to stress in His short earthly ministry, and important enough for God to have ordained its inclusion in the Gospels.
Jesus was the perfect picture of meekness, but He wasn’t the only meek man we find in the Word. Moses is referred to as “very meek” (Num. 12:3). Other Old Testament examples of meek men include David (2 Sam. 16:11-12), Job (Job 1:21), and Jeremiah (Jer. 11:19). Looking at these men, and looking what the Bible says in depth will help us not only define meekness, but why meekness is necessary and correct, and the promises from God for those who are meek.
So now we arrive at the million-dollar question: What is the Biblical definition of meekness? What does that mean for us in terms of Biblical manhood?