Many years ago I read a book about horse trainer Monty Roberts, The Man Who Listens to Horses. Working with animals at the time, his approach fascinated me.
Often a very stressful endeavor for both horse and human, Roberts “listened” to horses by observing their body language, applying natural, and postural communicative pressure; in effect, speaking their herd language, and quickly accomplishing what often took many hours and days: introducing bridal, saddle, and rider to a horse.
In Numbers 12:3, in this week’s Torah reading, the Lord testifies regarding Moses, when accused by Miriam and Aaron:
וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה ענו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה
“And the man Moses was very humble, above all men that are on the face of the earth.”
Translated “humble,” עָנָו/anav, in this context, means to “bow down,” not in a sense of forced submission or subjection, but the bringing of will and strength into alignment with the greater will, that of the Shepherd.
If we were to apply our ideas of humility to Moses, we may wonder what the Lord is seeing that we are not?
Moses was a man of great strength, and mental acuity. He led Israel. He instructed Israel. He rebuked Israel. Yet, all his faculties, in their fullness and without diminishment, were strengths under control by the will of the Lord; and in that way Moses served Israel.
In Matthew 5:5, Messiah Yeshua/Jesus taught:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5; cf. Prov. 37:11).
The Greek translated above as “meek,” πραΰς/praus, can be rendered as either humble or meek, which for many suggests a weakened, gentle or timid disposition. The text, however, may be taking us in a different direction.
The root of πραΰς/praus, means strength under control. In Ancient Greek literature it first appears in a book about taming horses, specifically for war. The horse, full of vigor and power, was taught to be meek, receptive to direction, and obedient to that direction; a taming and refining of its wild disposition.
Meekness is not necessarily to be gentle or reserved in temperament; rather, it is the harnessing of strength, in every respect, in a controlled manner in alignment with the will of God, preparing one to be used by Him.
To be meek, or humble in the manner described above is to recognize limitations, authority, the value of others, and tending to the prudent and necessary, albeit uncomfortable action.
It takes strength to be a humble servant, as paradoxical as that may seem; strength, not arrogance or self-assertiveness.
Taught in meekness by the working of the Holy Spirit, Messiah says the meek will have a portion in the earth, which is to say that they are sharing in the original purpose of man – tending the Father’s creation, now in faithfulness (Gen. 2:15).
Meekness is not weakness, as they say; it is strength controlled under the direction of the Father’s will, as He speaks to us, and draws us, from our uncontrollable wildness, to Himself, then prepared and sent out to a wild world.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily (with the vigor of life) as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).
Be well. Shalom.