Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, by Giotto di Bondone, 1297-99
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
— Psalms 37:11-13
Beginning Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity, Psalm 37 is a teaching psalm, credited to David in his old age, speaking to man rather than to God, offering wisdom on how to show up in the world. The line in verse 11, the meek shall inherit the earth was quoted by Jesus in the sermon on the mount,1 and indeed is best known from that context. Interesting that David offered the same world view some 1,000 years earlier. True wisdom is of course timeless. But what does it mean for the meek to inherit the earth? The theologian Charles Spurgeon offers us this commonly quoted perspective:
"There has been a long enmity, as you know, between the wolves and the sheep; and the sheep have never taken to fighting, yet they have won the victory, and there are more sheep than wolves in the world to-day. In our country, the wolves are all dead, but the sheep have multiplied by tens of thousands."2
It is not passivity though that gave sheep the edge, rather the interference of humankind destroying the wolves environment, so in a sense the even-stronger, man, inherited the earth, not sheep who remain enslaved to us. I'm not keen on this metaphor, but immediately afterwards, in the same essay Spurgeon offers us this, which I find far more powerful:
"The anvil stands still while the hammer beats upon it, but one anvil wears out many hammers."3
It is this quiet strength, the resilience to never being worn down by violence that better represents the 'meek'. It is the sheer mass of the anvil that can withstand the pounding. One meek person alone is nothing, but many together can create great strength. This is the power of community.
1 Matthew 5:5
2 The Third Beatitude by C. H. Spurgeon, December 11th, 1873