The Beatitudes, cardinal virtues preached by Jesus early in his ministry, celebrate as virtues that which the unbelieving world would not consider virtues. The third Beatitude states the meek shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:5).
What is "meek?" It is the Greek word πραυσ, which gives us a sense of humility, teachability, and gentleness. According to the NET Bible:
"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Isa 41:17, Lu 18:1-8)"
The NET Bible tells us what πραυσ is not:
"Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Ga 5:23)"
Some may consider this uncritical obedience to a tyrant, but that isn't it at all. It's better to think of this as surrender to a perfectly good higher power and the one who so surrenders already accepts that God is perfectly good.
The existence of God is self-evident from nature (see Rom 1), but the goodness of God is not. God's eternal power and divine nature are clearly perceived in that which is made; however, it takes a special revelation (the Bible) to reveal the perfect goodness of God. This means that the meek person that has surrendered his will to God's own has already done the investigation necessary to conclude that God is worth surrendering to.
This Beatitude also calls to mind many verses of inheritance (Ps 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34; Is 60:21), but none are as obviously tied to this verse as Psalm 25:
"Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
"For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land." (Ps 25:8-13)
Notice the theme of surrendering in humility to one who is perfectly good, and that one will unerringly guide the sinner on the correct path. This is the sort of person who will inherit the earth: the one who recognizes his separation from God, then depends on God rather than his own empty works.
Cory Tucholski is a passionate defender of the Christian faith. He is the husband of one amazing woman and the proud daddy of two fantastic children. Cory runs the apologetics blog Josiah Concept Ministries (http://josiahconcept.org).