(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were on the face of the earth.)
Who records this? The popular answer is, Moses. He is the reputed author of the Pentateuch. Moses tells us, therefore, that Moses was the meekest of men. But if so, what becomes of his humility? Some meet the difficulty by reminding us that the verse is a parenthesis. It is enclosed in brackets. Perhaps it was added afterwards by another hand. This, of course, is possible. At the same time it is a desperate mode of dealing with the case. Supposing that Moses did indite it, what then? It is not necessarily a display of vanity. There are two kinds of egotism — the false and the true. If a man refers to himself simply as a historian, and merely because the circumstances of the case call for it, that is quite a lawful, righteous egotism. If, on the contrary, he does it out of conceit, he thereby manifests "vain glory," and merits our scorn. A consciousness of integrity will sometimes impel its possessor to assert it, especially when it is misunderstood and persecuted. The uprightness of Job led him to exclaim, "When I am tried I shall come forth as gold." "The man Moses was very meek." But was he always such? Are we to regard his meekness as constitutional? There appear to be solid reasons for thinking that Israel's distinguished lawgiver was originally impulsive and even passionate! At first, he was anything but slow to anger. And, as we read the narrative of his life, we mark the old disposition ever and anon asserting itself. Just as you sometimes see, in the midst of green pastures and yellow corn, patches of rock, fern, and heather, reminding you of the pristine state of the ground, so now and then the hasty spirit of Moses got the better of him. These were lingering and occasional outbreaks on the part of what the apostle would call "the old man." They were exceptional. So faithfully had he watched against his besetting sin, so prayerfully had he exercised vigorous self-control, that the naturally irritable man became "very meek above all the men who were on the face of the earth." As a certain author admirably writes: "A traveller, giving an account of an ancient volcano, tells of a verdurous cup-like hollow on the mountain summit, and, where the fierce heat once had burned, a clear, still pool of water, looking up like an eye to heaven above. It is an apt parable of Moses. Naturally and originally volcanic, capable of profound passion and daring, he is new-made by grace till he stands out in calm grandeur of character with all the gentleness of Christ adorning him. The case of Moses is representative. It does not stand alone in grand isolation. That our weakest point may become our strongest is one of the most obvious and inspiring teachings of the Bible. Peter Thomas, a physiognomist, closely scanning the face of Socrates, pronounced him to be a bad man. He even went so far as to specify his vices and faults. "Proud, crabbed, lustful," were the charges brought against him. The Athenians laughed this to scorn. Everybody knew its falsity. The distinguished sage was the exact opposite of the description. To their amazement, however, Socrates hushed them, and declared that no calumny had been uttered. "What he has said," be remarked, "accurately describes my nature, but by philosophy I have controlled anti conquered it." Let us be of good cheer. Philosophy is good, but we have something better — "the grace of God which bringeth salvation." Let us but make it our own, and we shall joyfully experience its victories.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)