For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yes, you shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.…
Is it to the future only, or also to the present, that such a promise as this may be said to have respect? We believe assuredly that it relates to both. There is a large and beautiful sense in which the meek do already inherit the earth. But there is something too expansive in the words to allow of our supposing the present to be their perfect fulfilment. From the very character which they hear, the meek for the most part are trampled on and oppressed; so that in place of being given over to their sway, the earth is most commonly wrenched from their possession. But if the promise mark out to us a season when the rebellious shall have been swept from the globe, when the saints of every generation shall assemble from the sepulchres, and shall reign with their Lord over a renovated world, then indeed, we may literally maintain — "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." First of all, who are the "meek"? We go to Christ for a description of meekness, and we gather that we should be forbearing, forgiving, patient under injuries and contradiction. But distinguish between that meekness which may be only the effect of constitution, and another which is the clear produce of grace. Natural virtues belong only to man's animal soul, and must not be confounded with the properties and virtues over which death has no power. With many men there is so much amiableness of temper that though strangers altogether to religion, they deserve to be called "meek" in the common acceptation of the term. In many cases, this constitutional meekness, if rigidly examined, will be found to spring from a love of ease; at all events, it is a mere quality of the animal soul, and ought not to be substituted for that holy meekness which Jesus exhibited. Christian meekness is in the largest sense compatible with Christian boldness, so that he who will submit to taunts and injuries, and give only prayers in return for revilings and wrongs, may yet in the hour of a nation's danger, or the Church's peril, rise up as a hero with the fire in his eye, and nerve in his arm, to stand against a host for his country and his God. Christian meekness must chiefly result, first from a deep sense of our own unworthiness; and, secondly, an earnest love of our fellow-men. He who is humble in the meek consciousness of his own vileness as a sinner, will invariably be averse from all overbearing; and he who is zealous for the well-being of others will forbear and forgive, and keep down resentment, however injurious the conduct of others. Thus, without asserting that meekness is composed of no other ingredients, we think humility and love are amongst its chief. Imagine the case of a man who is all alive to the conviction that he is wholly unworthy the favour of his Maker; and that the blessing cannot be mentioned which he is entitled to claim. Not indeed that every believer is fraught as he ought to be with a conviction like this. But the feeling ought to be paramount, so far as meekness is made up of a sense of unworthiness; and he alone is a meek man to whom every day mercies wear the character of wonders. And inasmuch as the meek man possesses this consciousness, he may justly be said to inherit the earth. He traces a Father's hand; he reads a Father's tenderness in the daily allotments of food and clothing and habitation. The earth sends not up the blade of corn which seems not a wonder in his eye, because given to transgressors. The drop of water leaps not from the fountain which sparkles not with prodigy, because intended for the refreshment of those who have sinned against God. A ray of light falls on no human habitation which does not appear as a miracle, because illuminating the dwelling-place of the friendless and the prodigal. Thus the earth will be to the Christian a very different scene from what it is to others. Others possess the earth — the meek inherit the earth. Others move upon its provinces, gather in its productions, and delight in its riches, but they cannot survey it with the feelings of an heir. Glance at the second characteristic or ingredient into which we resolved the meekness of the Christian — earnest love for his fellow-men. And surely in proportion as a man acquires this love he may clearly be said to inherit the earth. In place of being broken into tribes and kindreds, each separated from the rest by its own interests and concerns, the millions of our race become as one vast household, every individual of which is a brother. What then? The spot cannot be found where the meek man being placed shall be quite a stranger. I say you cannot place him where there is no object of his love, none in whose welfare he has no interest. Wherever he journeys he may still be said to be at home. Thus the meek man possesses the earth; nay, rather, inherits the earth. He possesses it by family compact — by the claims and the rights of relationship; and the possession thus obtained is possession by heirship. Only then allow that the meek man must be animated with the love of all men, and you also allow that he turns the whole human population into one household, and that household his own. And if we have thus a home in the earth in its length and breadth, we contend it is fairly and literally made out that the meek man inherits the earth. And assuredly that must be a blessed thing; so that the promise of our text should animate us to the cultivation of Christian meekness.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.