The Horse of War
"Blessed are the Meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).”
The Greek word for Meek is Praus (Pronounced Prah-oos). This Greek word was used in the training of warhorses. Wild horses were brought down from the mountains and sorted. After months of training some were found to be useful for bearing burdens, others broken for ordinary duty, but the rarest were chosen for battle. The war horse was marked “Praus” or Meek.
The war horse was required to be fearless, determined, powerful, and under control. It would respond to the rider’s slightest touch, thunder into battle, stand steady in the den of war, and stop at a whisper.
It was “Meek”, power under restraint.
The secret training of such animals would be passed from the Greeks to the Roman legions, on 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.
This magnificent animal had been unruly, rebellious, wild, and out of control. It was able to bring its nature under discipline. This is the image used to describe the “Meek”, when Jesus says, the “Meek” shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It’s this image of the Legion’s warhorse his hearers would be familiar with. It’s the use of the word “Meek” common for their time, power under restraint.
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city (proverbs 16:32)."
Jesus was described, by Paul as Meek. He had immense power but chose to use it in a disciplined fashion. He chose his words with the precision of a finely-honed blade. When Pilot reminded Jesus, he could have him crucified, Jesus responded, “You would have no authority over me, if it were not given to you from above (John 19:11).”
Moses was also described as “Meek” in scripture (Numbers 12:3). Raised as the son of Pharaoh, a disciplined and educated man with skills and authority from God, powerful indeed. He faced down the sorcerers of Egypt, commanded Pharaoh, and led a nation into the unknown. The man was described as the “Meekest” man on the face of the earth.
The English translation of “Meek” is a sad depraved fate of a once noble origin. Perhaps its modern translation gives us insight into the unfortunate state of our society. We worship beauty and youth, two fleeting attributes of fools. They inspire reckless ambition at the thoughtless expense of everyone else around us. They esteem violence and its feigned boasts of strength.
We are constantly longing for more and never filled with contentment. Our ravenous appetites demand respect without earning it. We threaten violence on those who don’t listen. We are driven by our wild rage and fear. We are flashes in the pan, here today and gone the next. Our greatest fear is irrelevance, shaking our fists at Father Time wishing, begging for one more minute, “Just a second more.”
We are easily whipped into a mad frenzy by those who would have power over us. They beat us with our own narcissistic whips of desire. We willingly give them the tools of our torture surrendering our souls to the empty promise of eternal youth, beauty and power.
The Meek today, are defined as weak or submissive. Look it up, the dictionary says, submissive.
Historically, those who would control their desires (Meek) are powerful. The masses can be controlled by desire or obsession for beauty, youth, power, and things. When someone controls or influences what you desire, it is power. So, we are convinced to pursue all our desires in reckless abandon, mindlessness follows.
“You only live once” we are encouraged. Live for today, divide and conquer through violence, force your will, you will only have your moment for an instant. We gather in mobs foaming at the mouth determined to make our mark. We destroy, consumed with violence, wiled eyed with rage. We are mindless ravenous beasts justified by causes and empty ideals, filled with hate of everyone not like us. We are a bubbling, boiling, all-consuming fury of our own hell.
A starving beast never finding peace or fulfillment.
“Blessed are the Meek.” Jesus whispers.
Power under restraint is the light piercing the darkness.
“Be still.” Jesus commanded the sea.
Order in chaos. A calm washes over the masses.
"All is lost." We wail. "We have nothing left but to riot in violence."
"Where is justice?" We cry as we slam a red brick to the head of our brother Able. "There is no justice, violence is the only justice we know!" Bones crunch under the heel of our boots. "Here is your mercy." We spit, blind with rage. We turn seeking more blood.
But God has not left us. Like Elijah in the wilderness we feel alone. God speaks to us, “Nevertheless, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel— all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him (1 Kings 19:18).”
There is hope.
The water is still and I sing, It is well with my soul.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”
Speak peace into the frothing tempest.
Be the Meek.
We need the Meek.
Speak the peace of Christ with the authority and power of Christ. “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).”
May you have the courage to bring peace, not by a sword, but by your sacrifice.
May your sacrifice live on through the ages singing with the reverberations of His sacrifice.
“Here I am Lord, send me.”
May you be Meek. May you be strong. May you have courage.
May God say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant."