a calm temper of mind, not easily provoked (Jas 3:13). Peculiar promises are made to the meek (Mt 5:5; Isa 66:2). The cultivation of this spirit is enjoined (Col 3:12; 1Ti 6:11; Zep 2:3), and is exemplified in Christ (Mt 11:29), Abraham (Ge 13; 16:5-6) Moses (Nu 12:3), David (Zec 12:8; 2Sa 16:10,12), and Paul (1Co 9:19).
In the earlier literature of revelation meekness is simply an excellent virtue. Moses is described as 'very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth' (Nu 12:3), and his character illustrates the Hebrew ideal of meekness in those days. There was no weakness or cowardice about him. He was 'a still, strong man,' patient and pitiful. Subsequently the word acquired a peculiar significance. In the days of Israel's conflict the men of pride and violence came to the front, while the godly were thrust into the background, contemned and oppressed (cf. Ps 10:2,8-10). Thus 'rich' and 'wicked' came to be synonymous (Isa 53:9); and corresponding to these there was a group of terms: 'meek,' 'humble' (or 'lowly'), 'poor,' 'needy.' In our Lord's time these terms denoted the godly remnant in Israel, those who, despised by the rulers, lived devout lives in obscure corners, nourishing their faith on the Scriptures, and 'waiting for the consolation of Israel' (Lu 2:25,38), the blessed Advent of the Messiah. And, just as the Psalmists and Prophets had sympathized with the Lord's hidden ones and promised them deliverance (Ps 9:12,18; 10:12-18; 37:11 [cf. Mt 5:5] Ps 72:2,4; Isa 11:4), so Jesus was their champion. He called them 'blessed' (Mt 5:3-12), and He took His place by their side, Himself 'meek and lowly' (Mt 11:29), the homeless Son of Man, despised and rejected of men. He shared their humility that they might share His glory.