In Matthew 5:4, Jesus continues his sermon on the mount with the second beatitude; “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” This beatitude complements the previous verse, which reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” The word “mourning”, according to the Strong’s Concordance1, means “to grieve (the feeling or the act); mourn, (be-)wail.”
When a person mourns, or experiences godly sorrow, they are a candidate to receive salvation and the comfort it brings. The Apostle Paul discusses two kinds of sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, ”For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” The mourning described in the second beatitude is produced as a result of having genuine godly sorrow. The way the Apostle Paul explains godly sorrow is by what is produced as a result of having it. In this passage, it produced a carefulness, a clearing of oneself, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, and great revenge! The person who meets these conditions when they come to Christ will be comforted.
It is important to understand that a person cannot be delivered from sin unless they experience the mourning that is produced by godly sorrow. This is not to say that a person must shed literal tears in order to receive salvation, but it is saying that a person has to be “awakened”. 1 Corinthians 15:34 tells us, “Awake to righteousness” and to the fact that they have trampled the goodness and compassion of God under their feet. Psalm 145:8 tells us that, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” In Psalm 86:15 we read, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy”. Part of the awakening process is for a person to realize that the sins that they have been committing are acts of disobedience to a kind, merciful and compassionate God. When this awakening and recognition of the grossness and darkness of sin occurs, godly sorrow and mourning can be produced.
A descriptive picture of sin and its effects can be found in Isaiah 1:4-6, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” We can also read in Isaiah 64:6 where the writer tells us that that everyone without God is, “as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” This understanding will produce a feeling of pain and misery in a person’s soul known as conviction, which is caused by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit faithfully has appeared to all men bringing this awareness (Titus 2:11). The psalmist describes this condition as having a broken spirit in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” A person that has a broken spirit is poor in spirit. Salvation will bring a comfort and a rest to a person’s soul if they heed the advice found in Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Matthew 11:28-30 should encourages any weary traveler in this life, that regardless of what a person’s need may be, Christ is saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Once we take the yoke that Christ offers upon us, we learn that His yoke truly is easy and His burden is light. Comfort is continuously provided to the Christian from the day they accept Christ and are born again. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reads, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
It is important to understand that this beatitude is not teaching that just anyone who mourns will be comforted. People can mourn many different things, but there are types of mourning that God will not bless. Some Biblical examples of mourning that is not comforted or blessed are:
LUSTING AFTER THINGS OUTSIDE OF GOD’S WILL
Amon lusted for his paternal half-sister. 2 Samuel 13:2, “And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her.”
JEALOUSY AND ENVY
Haman was greatly disappointed and ashamed that Mordecai received the honor instead of him. Esther 6:12, “…Haman hastened to his house, mourning and having his head covered.”
UNGODLY SELFISH DESIRES
Ahab was consumed with his own sorrows that Naboth wouldn’t sell him his vineyard. 1 Kings 21:3-4,” And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?”
WORLDLY SORROW BUT NOT GODLY SORROW
Judas wasn’t truly remorseful for his betrayal of Christ. Matthew 27:3, “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.”
We also know that God cannot bless or bring comfort to a sinner who is out of His will. The blessings and comfort of God are for those who mourn the absence of God in their lives, and those who have experienced true godly sorrow for their life in sin. Once they come to this place, and seek salvation, this person is a candidate to receive the blessings and comfort of God.
In conclusion, we read again from Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” May this beatitude bring comfort to anyone that may be “mourning” because salvation is received by having a broken heart. Christ cannot heal the heart that has not been broken. The psalmist said in Psalm 109:22, “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” Christ’s words in Luke 4:18 are, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” The psalmist later tells us in Psalm 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Christ’s desire is to heal everyone that has a broken heart and to provide comfort. Happy is the person that awakens to righteousness, and through mourning receives comfort from the God of all comfort – not just at the time of repentance, but comfort as long as they stay in the center of God’s will.
1. Strong, James, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Jennings and Graham, 1890