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Matthew 5:5

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Blessed are the meek - Happy, οι πραεις, from ῥαος, easy, those who are of a quiet, gentle spirit, in opposition to the proud and supercilious Scribes and Pharisees and their disciples. We have a compound word in English, which once fully expressed the meaning of the original, viz. gentleman; but it has now almost wholly lost its original signification. Our word meek comes from the old Anglo-saxon meca, or meccea, a companion or equal, because he who is of a meek or gentle spirit, is ever ready to associate with the meanest of those who fear God, feeling himself superior to none; and well knowing that he has nothing of spiritual or temporal good but what he has received from the mere bounty of God, having never deserved any favor from his hand.

For they shall inherit the earth - Or, την γην, the land. Under this expression, which was commonly used by the prophets to signify the land of Canaan, in which all temporal good abounded, Judges 18:9, Judges 18:10, Jesus Christ points out that abundance of spiritual good, which was provided for men in the Gospel. Besides, Canaan was a type of the kingdom of God; and who is so likely to inherit glory as the man in whom the meekness and gentleness of Jesus dwell? In some good MSS. and several ancient versions, the fourth and fifth verses are transposed: see the authorities in the various readings in Professor Griesbach's edition. The present arrangement certainly is most natural:

  1. Poverty, to which the promise of the kingdom is made.
  • Mourning or distress, on account of this impoverished state, to which consolation is promised. And
  • 3. Meekness established in the heart by the consolations received.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    The meek - Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance. Christ insisted on his right when he said, “If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” John 18:23. Paul asserted his right when he said, “They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out,” Acts 16:37. And yet Christ was the very model of meekness. It was one of his characteristics, “I am meek,” Matthew 11:29. So of Paul. No man endured more wrong, or endured it more patiently than he. Yet the Saviour and the apostle were not passionate. They bore all patiently. They did not press their rights through thick and thin, or trample down the rights of others to secure their own.

    Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us. “Vengeance is his; he will repay,” Romans 12:19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has promised to do.

    Meekness produces peace. It is proof of true greatness of soul. It comes from a heart too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who offer them with pity. He that is constantly ruffled; that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard and to raise a storm of passion within, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him. He is like “the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

    They shall inherit the earth - This might have been translated the land. It is probable that here is a reference to the manner in which the Jews commonly expressed themselves to denote any great blessing. It was promised to them that they should inherit the land of Canaan. For a long time the patriarchs looked forward to this, Genesis 15:7-8; Exodus 32:13. They regarded it as a great blessing. It was so spoken of in the journey in the wilderness, and their hopes were crowned when they took possession of the promised land, Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 16:20. In the time of our Saviour they were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where this promise perpetually occurs, and they used it “as a proverbial expression to denote any great blessing, perhaps as the sum of all blessings,” Psalm 37:20; Isaiah 60:21. Our Saviour used it in this sense, and meant to say, not that the meek would own great property or have many lands, but that they would possess special blessings. The Jews also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land became, therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Saviour uses this language here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. The value of meekness, even in regard to worldly property and success in life, is often exhibited in the Scriptures, Proverbs 22:24-25; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 25:8, Proverbs 25:15. It is also seen in common life that a meek, patient, mild man is the most prospered. An impatient and quarrelsome man raises up enemies; often loses property in lawsuits; spends his time in disputes and broils rather than in sober, honest industry; and is harassed, vexed, and unsuccessful in all that he does. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1 Timothy 4:8. Compare 1 Timothy 6:3-6.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. 1. The poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them. 2. Those that mourn are happy. That godly sorrow which worketh true repentance, watchfulness, a humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be intended. Heaven is the joy of our Lord; a mountain of joy, to which our way is through a vale of tears. Such mourners shall be comforted by their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God's own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help those who are in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity those who are in sin, and seek to snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The peace-makers are happy. They love, and desire, and delight in peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are happy. This saying is peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon than any of the rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose for him, though life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find mercy from the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully welcome low or painful circumstances.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 334-5

    Your thoughts are not elevated. There is enough in the natural world to lead you to love and adore your Creator. There is food for thought without shutting yourself away to feed on disappointed hopes and perverted imaginings. Do not be ready to talk with unbelievers and to enter into argument with those who oppose the truth, for you are not furnished with Scripture knowledge to do this. You have neglected to study your Bible. You can best recommend the truth by the meekness of your life and the faithful discharge of your daily duties. If you are conscientiously strict to do your part, and are faithful and earnest to see what you can and should do for those for whom you labor, you will then better represent the truth. The best way in which you can recommend the truth is, not by argument, not by talk, but by living it daily, by leading a consistent, modest, humble life as a disciple of Christ. 3T 334.1

    It is a sad thing to be discontented with our surroundings or with the circumstances which have placed us where our duties seem humble and unimportant. Private and humble duties are distasteful to you; you are restless, uneasy, and dissatisfied. All this springs from selfishness. You think more of yourself than others think of you. You love yourself better than you love your parents, sisters, and brother, and better than you love God. You desire more congenial labor, for which you think you will be better fitted. You are not willing to work and wait in the humble sphere of action where God has placed you, until He proves and tests you, and you demonstrate your ability and fitness for a higher position. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The spirit of meekness is not a spirit of discontent, but it is directly the opposite. 3T 334.2

    Those professed Christians who are constantly whining and complaining, and who seem to think happiness and a cheerful countenance a sin, have not the genuine article of religion. Those who look upon nature's beautiful scenery as they would upon a dead picture, who choose to look upon dead leaves rather than to gather the beautiful living flowers, who take a mournful pleasure in all that is melancholy in the language spoken to them by the natural world, who see no beauty in valleys clothed with living green and grand mountain heights clothed with verdure, who close their senses to the joyful voice which speaks to them in nature and which is sweet and musical to the listening ear—these are not in Christ. They are not walking in the light, but are gathering to themselves darkness and gloom, when they could just as well have brightness and the blessing of the Sun of Righteousness arising in their hearts with healing in His beams. 3T 334.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 26

    Constantly they are learning of the Great Teacher, and constantly they reach higher degrees of excellence, yet all the time feeling a sense of their weakness and inefficiency. They are drawn upward by their strong, loving admiration for Christ. They practice His virtues; for their life is assimilated to His. Ever they move onward and upward, a blessing to the world and an honor to their Redeemer. Of them Christ says: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5. 7T 26.1

    Such workers are to be encouraged. Their work is done, not to be seen of men, but to glorify God. And it will bear His inspection. The Lord brings these workers into connection with those of more marked ability, to fill the gaps they leave. He is well pleased when they are appreciated, for they are links in His chain of service. 7T 26.2

    Men who are self-important, who are filled with the thought of their own superior abilities, overlook these humble, contrite workers; but not for one moment does God lose sight of them. He marks all that they do to help those in need of help. In the heavenly courts, when the redeemed are gathered home, they will stand nearest the Son of God. They will shine brightly in the courts of the Lord, honored by Him because they have felt it an honor to minister to those for whom He gave His life. 7T 26.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 51

    You say that your husband is not yet converted to the truth. Show him in your life the advantage of taking Christ at His word. By patience, forbearance, and kindness you may win your husband to the Saviour. TSB 51.1

    Life Not a Romance but a Reality—In the power of God's grace you may obtain most precious victories. You are not to treat your life as a romance, but as a reality. You are to be a laborer together with God in forming a character that He can approve. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Does the charge end there? No, no, thank God! “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” [Philippians 2:12, 13]. TSB 51.2

    You are to be a co-worker with Him in the saving of your soul. You are to will to do the will of God. Then do not spend your time and strength in murmuring, in talking unbelief and finding fault with God. Encourage confidence in Him. Speak kindly of Him. Honor Him who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John 3:16]. TSB 51.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 13-8

    It was through suffering that Jesus obtained the ministry of consolation. In all the affliction of humanity He is afflicted; and “in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” Isaiah 63:9; Hebrews 2:18. In this ministry every soul that has entered into the fellowship of His sufferings is privileged to share. “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5. The Lord has special grace for the mourner, and its power is to melt hearts, to win souls. His love opens a channel into the wounded and bruised soul, and becomes a healing balsam to those who sorrow. “The Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort ... comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4. MB 13.1

    Throughout the Beatitudes there is an advancing line of Christian experience. Those who have felt their need of Christ, those who have mourned because of sin and have sat with Christ in the school of affliction, will learn meekness from the divine Teacher. MB 13.2

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