There are many words and phrases found within the pages of Scripture that, as readers, we often get confused by. Part of this is due to the fact that there are numerous versions, translations, and editions of the Bible. The English Standard Version may translate a verse into English one way, while the New Living Translation chooses different words to express the meaning. In many popular versions, though, words may be used that are a little outdated and seldom used anymore. When this happens, it becomes difficult for us to not only read the Scriptures, but to interpret it properly and thus apply it properly. One such example of this is with the word “meek” which is found in a handful of places throughout Scripture. It’s rarely used in everyday speech or even in modern literature today. So, what does the word meek mean in the Bible? Here is a biblical definition of meekness and where it can be found in the Bible, along with great examples of people who were meek.
Based on the various Scriptures in which meekness is used, we can come up with a pretty good working definition of what it is. Meekness, according to the Bible, is being humble and gentle towards others and willingly being submissive and obedient to the Lord. It is not being selfish and arrogant, loud or obnoxious. Rather, it’s having a quiet but confident trust in the Lord and being willing and able to do whatever it is He commands. In regards to how a meek person would treat others, they would definitely be humble and gentle both in their words and in their actions.
Some Biblical Examples of Meekness
Moses in Numbers 12:3 – “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth”
That’s a very bold statement, isn’t it? Moses never trusted in himself; in fact, there are instances when he was afraid to do what God asked of Him because he didn’t think he was qualified for it. But, he came to realize that God never calls the qualified—He qualifies the called.
David in 2 Samuel 16:11-12 – “And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘ see how my son who came from my own body seeks my life? How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.’”
Notice that meekness does not mean succumbing to everyone and being a doormat, so to speak. It’s not sitting idly by nor being a bystander while we get trampled on by others or witness someone else committing evil. Meekness does not mean shy or reserved; it’s a humbleness that is extremely quiet. A meek person, like David, does not automatically jump to defend himself because he trusts the Lord will do that for him.
Jesus in 1 Peter 2:23 – “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who was meek. He had all the power in the world, yet used it to help others and even lay down his life for everyone else. He had plenty of opportunities to try and get revenge or attack those who attacked him, but he did not do so. Rather, He was willing to submit His entire life to the Father (as evidenced by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane). But again, notice what Jesus wasn’t: shy, passive, or quiet. Nobody needs those characteristics in order to be meek.
The best way to determine what something means in the Bible (whether it’s a passage, verse, or just a word) is to simply compare it with all other parts of Scripture. Scour all the places that mention the word and start painting a broader picture of what it could mean. When we do that with the word meek, we come to much better conclusions as to what the Bible is talking about when it mentions and talks about meekness. In fact, doing this will help us better understand the most famous verse about meekness: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5
Article by Michael Krauser