Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be poor in spirit? Have you maybe thought it meant to be poor in worldly goods, or someone not tuned into the Lord? Today, we are going to take a closer look at this beatitude. It was the first one Jesus spoke, so it must be important.
‘Poor in spirit’ and ‘kingdom of heaven’ were familiar phrases to the disciples. The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. They referred to dedicated members of their community with the phrase, ‘poor in spirit.’
The Pharisees said the kingdom of heaven was where those who followed all the commandments lived.
Yeshua was using both of these phrases in one sentence. Another way of saying this: “How blessed are those in My community who are poor in spirit. They have thrown away their place of pride, position, and status and are those whom God can rule.”
Humility was not valued among the Pharisees. But here, Yeshua is making humility the focus of this first beatitude.
The poor in spirit know their spiritual need. They rate themselves as insignificant. To be poor in spirit means to have emptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will. To renounce all prejudice and preconceived ideas in the search of God. It means to set aside your present habits of thoughts, views, and prejudice. And remove anything that can stand in the way of your finding God.
Here are some words to describe ‘poor in spirit.’
· Empty of self-will
· Dependent on God and others
· Not prideful
And here are some promises to the poor in spirit found in other parts of the Bible:
Psalm 40:17 But I am poor and needy, Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.
Psalm 69:32-33 The humble shall see this and be glad, and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. 33 For the Lord hears the poor and does not despise His prisoners.
Psalm 72:12-14 For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. 13 He will spare the poor and needy and will save the souls of the needy. 14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence, and precious shall be their blood in His sight.
Psalm 107:40-41 He pours contempt on princes and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way; 41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock.
Psalm 113:7-8 He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, 8 That He may seat him with princes— With the princes of His people.
Without a doubt, the poor in spirit are blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They have benefits beyond measure. The kingdom of heaven is synonymous with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a forever kingdom of all that is good and holy.
The word for poor is the same as the Hebrew word in Strong’s Concordance #6041 that is from #6031.
#6031 means to abase self, afflict(-ion, self), chasten self, deal hardly with, defile, exercise, force, gentleness, humble (self), hurt, ravish, submit self, weaken.
This is how ‘poor’ looks in Hebrew:
Hebrew reads from right to left.
Ayin 70= Completion of time. Means: Eye, to See, Understand, Experience, or to be Seen, Window of the soul-good or bad (made of a Zayin and Yod—Word and Spirit)
Nun 50 = Restoration, Holy Spirit, Jubilee. Means: Life or Action
Hey 5 = Grace. Means: Revelation – 5 is the number of Torah, Behold, Give Attention, unfold or look upon – (if it comes at the end of a word: the meaning comes from the letter before)
So, the meaning of Poor as it relates to a person is:
A person Poor in spirit is one who (Ayin) sees and understands (Nun) the Life God has ordained for us. They (Hey) give attention to this revelation and by grace put it into (Nun) action.
In Isaiah 61:1a the ‘poor’ in the King James Bible is written as ‘meek.’
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek…
‘Meek’ in the Amplified Bible translates as meek, the poor, and afflicted.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Isaiah 66:2 For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,”
(This is referring to previous verses: “heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build for Me?) Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Here are some short descriptions for ‘poor in spirit.’
· They are sorry for their sins.
· They have repented.
· They have turned to God.
· They love God’s Word.
· They keep God’s commandments.
· Those who realize without their relationship with God they have nothing.
Let’s take a look at some of the promised blessings for the poor in spirit/the humble:
James 4:6 “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Luke 18:10-18 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So, the poor in spirit are those who have emptied themselves of pride. They have found the truth of living a humble life even if they are wealthy.
Okay, let’s flip it over and see who those are who are not poor in spirit. You may recognize yourself in some of these.
Here are some short descriptive phrases:
· Those who are prideful, arrogant, who refuse to validate others.
· Those who are self-centered.
· Those who are self-willed and egotistical.
· Those who regard others as a menace or an inconvenience.
· Those who are independent and see others as a threat especially if they are strong or accomplished.
When we consider this list, it is easy to see that pride is a self-imposed exile. No one wants to be around them, and they do not want to be around anyone else. This is not a great way to live.
You can find yourself in the ‘poor in spirit’ group. You can be experiencing the kingdom of heaven now, right here on earth. Ask Holy Spirit to lead you. True repentance will be needed, and new life patterns established but let Holy Spirit lead. The beatitudes are not requirements for a self-improvement program. Self-improvement points back to gaining self-honor.
Instead, listen to His leading and do what He tells you with a humble heart. In sharing the beatitudes, Jesus is telling us what He’s observed in those who have caught a vision of the Kingdom. With Holy Spirit’s help, they are living there now. We must realize without God’s Spirit nothing in us can change. But with His help, we will discover the joy of being poor in spirit.
God bless you as you meditate on these scriptures and thoughts.