“Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.”
The Greek term used in Matthew 5:4 is pentheo, and means, “to grieve.” The Hebrew word, caphad [saw-fad’, means, “to tear the hair and beat the breasts (as Orientals do in grief); generally, to lament; by implication, to wail. When Sarah died in Kirjath-aba, the same is Hebron in the Land of Canaan, Abraham came to mourn and weep for her (Gen. 23:2).
Sometimes the Lord tells someone to stop mourning.
Stop mourning for some people The Lord so instructed Samuel, who grieved over the death of King Saul. The reason why Samuel was to gather up his emotions and stop mourning is given.
“And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth–lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons” (1 Sam. 16:1).
Saul had brought much shame to Israel, as his heart turned from God. Evil rulers are not to be mourned.
Stop mourning when the Word of God is discovered. Let the heart rejoice. “And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law” (Neh. 8:9).
Stop mourning when the Bridegroom is present.
“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast” (Matt. 9:15).
As there is a time to stop mourning, so, there is a time to mourn.
“To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn,
and a time to dance.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
Honorable people are to be mourned, as David wept over Abner.
“And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier” (2 Sam. 3:31).
Abner (“father is a lamp”) was the commanding officer for King Saul (1 Sam. 14:50). It was Abner who first brought the young David to the attention of Saul who allowed David to fight the Philistine giant, Goliath. After Saul died, Abner remained loyal to Saul’s son, until Ishbosheth accused him of treason for taking for his wife one of Saul’s concubines (2 Sam. 2:8; 3:7-8). At that point, Abner transferred his loyalty to David, which enraged Joab, David’s military commander. In a jealous rage, Joab killed Abner, who was buried in Hebron (2 Sam. 3; 1 Sam. 17:55-58; 20:25; 26:5, 14-15).
A time of national calamity is to be mourned. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Prov. 29:2; Isaiah 3:26; 16:7; 19:8; 38:14; 59:11).
The judgment of God on the earth is to be mourned.
“For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it” (Jer. 4:28; 12:4; 48:31).
“Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away” (Hosea 4:3).
Lack of respect for the Lord is to be mourned.
“The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness” (Lam. 1:4).
“The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn” (Joel 1:9).
The coming of the Lord in judgment is to be mourned by the ungodly.
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).
For those who mourn appropriately, there is divine comfort. One of the ministries of the Messiah is to console those who mourn.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isa. 61:1,2).
The Messiah comforts those who mourn by giving to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy, and the garment of praise.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).
In 1974, while stationed at Ft. Polk, LA, I drove by a branch chapel that had been consumed by fire. As I looked upon the smothering embers, I found that even in the ashes there was a ethereal beauty made of black charcoal. I have never forgotten the beauty of those ashes.
In the ancient world, people were known to put ashes on their foreheads as a sign of mourning. The Lord has promised to take the ashes of mourning and turn them into something precious and beautiful in His sight, even a broken and contrite heart, which He will not despise.
What the Lord wants, is for His people to consider, and then mourn over what sin has done to Jesus.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).
“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” (James 4:9).
God the Father finds favor with those who look at the Messiah, and mourn for Him, out of love and appreciation, They shall be comforted.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
Those who superficially mourn over making a bad choice in life, as Esau did, or violating the trust of a Friend, as Judas did, remain alienated from God, and will never receive the comfort that is promised by Jesus.
The repentance of Esau. “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Heb. 12:17).
The repentance of Judas. “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:3-5).
The reason why mourning in an appropriate way about matters of importance to God, is because Jesus was known as a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief.
There is the sorrow of mental anguish. As Jesus faced the cross, He sweat great drops of blood “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
There is the sorrow of physical pain. The wounds of Christ were real, and painful.
“See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did ever such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
There is the sorrow of betrayal, not only from Judas, but by Peter. “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Luke 22:61).
There is the sorrow of loss of fellowship with God the Father. Listen to the cry of anguish from the lips of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
That is to say, “My God,
My God, why hast
Thou forsaken Me?”
Because He was a Man of Sorrow, Jesus can be our Great Consolation. This is one of the names of the Messiah.
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him” (Luke 2:25).
Christians need the Consolation of the Holy Spirit and of Christ.
When we are sick.
When we are fearful.
When we face an uncertain future.
When we lose a loved one.
When we mourn over sin.
The Consolation comes, and our sorrow is turned to joy and comfort,
when we remember our suffering is only for a little while,
our fears will be replaced by hope,
an uncertain future is known by the Father,
and our sins are forgiven, for we are washed in the blood of Christ.
The joy of salvation, the gift of eternal life, the promise of heaven, and the hope of the resurrection is how our Consolation comes to us. All tears shall one day we wiped away. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Concerning the mourning over sin, a distinction is made between two types of repentance.
There is the repentance of attrition. This is a form of repentance that comes from a fear of punishment. This is an imperfect type of repentance because there is no change in behavior if the punishment is light, or not administered. “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly” (Prov. 26:11). The lure of sin proves to be stronger than the moment of repentance.
There is the repentance of contrition. This refers to the heart that is broken by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the point it wants to forsake doing wrong, and live righteously.
When our heart is broken, and our pillows are wet with our weeping, then we will know experientially what true contrition is, and the promise of Jesus will be known. Such a soul will find favor from God, for “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 5:17).
The blessing is not in the mourning but in the comfort. It is the comfort spoken of by the prophet Isaiah,
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1-2).
If we would know Jesus as our Consolation, then we must believe in Him, pray to Him, and, most of all, ask the Father to give us the gift of regeneration leading to salvation, based on gospel repentance. When that is done, Jesus will come, and we will know Him as our personal Savior and Consolation.