Theme: The Meekest Man
In this week’s lessons we look at a psalm that contains some of the best-loved verses in the Old Testament, and learn what mature Christian living looks like.
Scripture: Psalm 37:1-20
Before we go further in this study I want to introduce an example of what it means to be meek. I do this because we usually think of meekness as weakness, and that is not the idea at all. The example I have in mind is from the life of Moses, and I refer to it because of a verse in the story that says that Moses was an illustriously meek man. The New International Version uses the word “humble.” The King James Version says “meek.” But both express the same idea. The verse says, “Moses was a very humble [or meek] man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).
This is the story. When Moses had to escape from Egypt he went to Midian where he settled and married Zipporah, the daughter of a priest of Midian. Zipporah was of the same stock as the Jewish people. But she had died by the time of the events told in Numbers 12, and Moses had married another wife who was a Cushite. The point of the story lies in the fact that Cush was the ancient name for Ethiopia and therefore that this second wife was black.
This was an offense to Moses’ brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, and Miriam in particular launched a rebellion. She said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us” (v. 2)?
God was displeased, of course. So he called Miriam and Aaron to meet with him before the Tent of Meeting. God reiterated his choice of Moses to be the leader of the people, rebuked Moses’ offended siblings, and then pronounced a judgment on Miriam which was frighteningly appropriate to her prejudice. The text says, “The anger of the LORD burned against them, and … when the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow” (vv. 9, 10). In other words, God said to Miriam, “You’re offended because your brother married a black woman. You’re brown, and you think light is better than dark. Why not be white, then. See how you like that.” The judgment was so horrible that Aaron pleaded for Miriam before Moses, and Moses interceded with the Lord and after seven days she was healed.
What was Moses’ conduct throughout this incident? His wife was insulted and despised. His authority was challenged. Did he fight back against this injustice? Did he try to vindicate himself, as we might have done? Not at all. It is why he is called a meek man. Moses did exactly what we find in Psalm 37. He trusted God, delighted himself in God, committed his way to God, was still and refrained from anger. Thus God protected him and vindicated him in due time.
This is not weakness but strength, because the same man who committed his way to God on this occasion had also been able to stand before Pharaoh and demand that the powerful king of Egypt let the people of Israel go. Meekness is the character of Jesus, of whom Peter writes: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:23). Meekness will take off its shoes before the burning bush but in the power of God will always be able to stand tall before the powerful of this world.
How did Moses demonstrate meekness?
How can meekness be a synonym for strength?
Application: Are you meek? How does this psalm encourage you toward meekness?