Meek Like Moses

by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

“But he has horns!” My sister and I stared at the image that my mother held up. Michelangelo was clearly confused when he carved Moses. Mum explained that the horns were supposed to represent the glory that Moses reflected after his time with God.

Horns were just one of the many things about Moses that didn’t make sense. Although my father said Moses was a meek man, we had heard stories of his temper: killing an Egyptian, throwing down the tablets, striking the rock in anger. He didn’t sound very meek, and the horns didn’t help.

But Numbers 12:3 states that Moses was the meekest man on earth. He is the only person that the Old Testament describes this way. We tend to think of meekness as mousy and quiet, lacking in opinions and backbone. Since Moses is described as meek, though, Scripture must have a different understanding.

In his Discourse on Meekness, Matthew Henry describes meekness as a kind of self-control. True, biblical meekness is a self-control of strength that makes us lambs in our own causes and lions for the cause of Christ. As it did in Moses, meekness compels us to act when God and His Word are dishonored and also to be humble before Him, putting the interests of God’s people above our own (Deut. 9:25ff). So, meekness keeps us in communion with God and other believers.

When our wills grow more and more alongside God’s will, we decrease and He increases (John 3:30). His priorities become ours, and we can submit to hard providences in a way that passes understanding. Henry points out that “peace in our own souls is some conformity to the God of peace.”

Our world is full of turmoil, and we add our own inner turmoil to it. But meekness brings quiet, a “composure of the soul” that stills our turmoil. It brings clarity and purpose because it is “a victory over ourselves.” That is why meekness brings true courage, that is, the will and ability to act selflessly in sacrificial ways. It is a practiced, emotional self-denial that frees us up for kingdom service.

All Christians develop meekness to some extent, since it is part of sanctification. This is why Psalm 37:11 says, “The meek shall inherit the land.” Believers will grow in meekness that is a “peace of conscience which Christ has left for a legacy to His disciples.”

Moses is the Old Testament’s meek man. But in the Gospels, we see Christ living out meekness flawlessly, emptying Himself as He carried out His Father’s will. Meekness turned the tables in the temple, had compassion on the crowds, called the Pharisees a brood of vipers, and prayed, “Not my will, but yours, be done.” It is meekness that characterizes the Lion of the tribe of Judah who is the Lamb that was slain. It is meekness that carried out the Trinity’s plan for our salvation. Increasing meekness in us is merely a reflection of our Immanuel.

Rebecca VanDoodewaard is an author and mother. She is author of Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth and the Banner Board Books series for children.

From Tabletalk Magazine December 22, 2018 an outreach of Ligonier Ministries.

2 thoughts on “Meek Like Moses

  1. Strength is not weakened by meekness. This is, indeed, a true statement.

    Moses was an effective leader of the Hebrews and wasn’t afraid to do what he deemed needful to protect the people. Case in point: when God stated, in Exodus, that he would have an Angel (*Messenger” in the Hebrew source text) He told Moses that the Angel would not hesitate to punish any and all infractions by the people of God’s Law. No Mercy! In Exodus 33:14 and beyond, Moses argues the God should lead instead because the Hebrews were a “stiff-necked” people and none would survive to enter Cannan. God agreed to then personally do the leading. (The difference would between an Enforcer of God’s Law and the Law Giver who could show Mercy.

    The thought occurs to me that God was, perhaps, expecting Moses to argue for the people. A test of sorts? If Moses, in his meekness, could argue with God in this, is it possible that we, too, have that right? Not for ourselves, of course, but for our church, the body of Christ? The whole Family of God? I wonder if we miss the opportunities to ‘change’ the decisions God makes?

    A Prayer Warrior has far more responsibility to God and the church than many acknowledge or even consider!


  2. Strength is not lessened by Meekness. This is a true statement.

    In Moses’ case, his argument with God in Exodus is a good example. In Exodus 23, God told Moses He would have one of His Angels (“Messenger in the Hebrew source text( lead the People to Cannan, but that the Angel (Messenger) would not allow infractions to God’s Law. In Exodus 33:14- Moses argues that to do so, none of the People would arrive in Cannan because they were a “stiff-necked” people. For there to be any that survived, God, Himself would have to lead them. Moses wins the argument.

    I wonder if God was testing Moses to see if he would try to talk God into leading. If so, what does it say about those of us who consider ourselves Prayer Warriors? Note that Moses spoke for the full collection of Israel’s tribes and not for himself! A lesson to be learned by all Christians, everywhere.


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