Meekness is what results when one's spiritual knowledge, understanding, and passions are in right balance. A carnal or natural meekness exists, but it is born from a person simply not wanting to become involved, from not understanding what is happening or from a lack of firmness. It is usually timid, conforms readily, and is easily deterred from doing good and persuaded to do evil. It sometimes forms the great defect in religious people's character, as in the cases of Eli and Jehoshaphat.
Eli's spirit should have burned with righteous indignation over the abominations his sons flagrantly committed, but he could not bring himself to correct them (I Samuel 3:11-14).
Jehoshaphat's downfall was in his relationship with Ahab, king of Israel, who was one of the most vile kings ever to rule over Israel. He allied himself with Ahab through a marriage. At one point Ahab proposed a military alliance with Judah to defeat the Syrians. Jehoshaphat, Judah's king, was reluctant and requested that they consult a prophet of God. The prophet Micaiah was brought before them, and he made it perfectly clear that the purpose of the alliance was not of God and they would lose the battle. However, Jehoshaphat lacked the will to withdraw his support and went into the battle anyway. Ahab perished, and Jehoshaphat lived only because God intervened.
II Chronicles 19:2-3 shows that this was not the end of the matter:
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God."
Both Eli and Jehoshaphat were what we would call "good men." They were religious, pious men who sought God within the framework of their own interests. God reveals, though, that they also had a serious character weakness that kept them from glorifying God to their highest potential and caused serious punishments and even curses to come upon them.
God desires more of us: "Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:38). Faith—confidence—is part of meekness, and thus the meek are not timid. Notice Paul's encouragement to Timothy: "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:6-7).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness