Tuesday, 07 July 2015 15:23

Meek, Like a Warhorse

Written by  Sam Whatley
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The Bible has been translated into English for hundreds of years by scholars and theologians. But occasionally it comes to light that our language has changed so much that another interpretation of a word may be more accurate. Some 30 years ago I heard that said about the word meek. 


Jesus creates a strange image by saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)  The Apostle Paul speaks of “…the meekness and gentleness of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:1)


A casual reading of these verses today would give you a mental picture of meekness that is far from the forceful image common in Bible times. Our dictionary defines meekness as, “…easily imposed upon, submissive, spineless.” But wait a minute.  Once you realize that this word is a translation of a Greek military term, you get a completely different picture.


The Greek word “praus” (prah-oos) was used to define a horse trained for battle. Wild stallions were brought down from the mountains and broken for riding. Some were used to pull wagons, some were raced, and the best were trained for warfare. They retained their fierce spirit, courage, and power, but were disciplined to respond to the slightest nudge or pressure of the rider’s leg. They could gallop into battle at 35 miles per hour and come to a sliding stop at a word. They were not frightened by arrows, spears, or torches. Then they were said to be meeked.


 As centuries went by the secret of training such animals was passed from the Greeks to the Roman legions, then to the Moors, the Spanish conquistadors, and finally the Austrian Empire. We see a few war horse descendants today in the Lippizanner horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.


To be meeked was to be taken from a state of wild rebellion and made completely loyal to, and dependent upon, one’s master. It is also to be taken from an atmosphere of fearfulness and made unflinching in the presence of danger. Some war horses dove from ravines into rivers in pursuit of their quarry. Some charged into the face of exploding cannons as Lord Tennyson expressed in his poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”


 These stallions became submissive, but certainly not spineless. They embodied power under control, strength with forbearance.


When Paul speaks of the “… meekness and gentleness of Christ…” he is describing this kind of obedience. Jesus did not suffer on the cross because he was a doormat. He went to pay a price that had to be paid for all of us, including you and me. He marched into Hell to keep us away from it.


And we, too, are called to demonstrate power under control. Through the Holy Spirit we can forgive those who hurt us. We can withhold our spiteful replies. We can be the first to apologize. We can be a servant to others. We can be meek.


When Jesus needed to confront sin, hypocrisy, and abuse, he did so.  He drove the money changers out of the temple. He told his prideful opponents, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” (John 8:44) When Pilate reminded Jesus that he could have him crucified, Jesus replied that Pilate had only the authority that was given to him from above.


All of those things took courage and control. Jesus demonstrated the spiritual discipline to face confrontation without using his power to do it in a sinful way.


Do you have a confrontation looming in your future? Someone at work/school? Someone at home? Someone at church? Your old nature may want to resort to spitefulness, prideful put-downs, or the cruelty of shutting that person out of your life. But God calls you to be meek. He urges you to speak the truth in love and leave the consequences to Him.


You see, we too, are being trained for war. And Christ leads us forward to battle the world, the flesh, and the devil. We go as those who charge into the face of danger when ordered to do so. Let us be as meek as war horses.






Last modified on Monday, 13 July 2015 15:29
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