Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Jesus says here that those who mourn are blessed because they shall be comforted. On the surface this scripture is a little bit blind to us. Why would Jesus want us to mourn? How could there be a blessing in that?
The Greek word in the concordance translated “mourn” in this scripture is the word “Pentheo”, and is translated in the scriptures as the word mourn seven times, wail two times, and bewail one time. So even with the definition from the Greek Concordance it is still a little vague as to what Jesus is talking about in this passage.
So to understand the meaning of this word “mourn” it becomes necessary to look at other places in the scripture where the word is used, and then draw a definition based on the context of its use. There are many instances where the word “mourn” or “mourning” is used to refer to the lamenting of a lost loved one, as when Jacob said he would go down to the grave mourning the loss of his son, Joseph, or when Israel mourned the death of Moses.
But the word is also used to mean something else in a number of scripture passages. It is used in several places in reference to general sadness resulting from undesirable circumstances.
Psalms 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
David was experiencing a deep troubling within himself because of the oppression of his enemy, and he referred to it as “mourning.” He uses the same meaning in Psalm 43:2.
Psalms 43:2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
The word “mourning” is also used in several places to refer to a self-inflicted suffering that’s demonstrated in fasting, a voluntary turning to the Lord in sackcloth and ashes. We can see this in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel 10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
Daniel 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
Daniel 10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all , till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Again this idea is used in Joel 2:12-13 as a voluntary, self-inflicted suffering for the purpose of drawing near to God and returning to Him with a whole heart.
Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
In this scripture God Himself instructs His people to fast, weep, and mourn, and to turn to the LORD their God through this process. So from these scriptures we can begin to see that the word “mourn” or “mourning” has a second meaning. It means to turn to God with heart-felt repentance from sin.
New Testament scriptures also agree with this definition of the word “mourn.”
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
James 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
In this passage James says for sinners to cleanse their hands and to be afflicted, to mourn, and to weep so as to demonstrate that they are humbling themselves in the sight of God.
This idea is seen again in Joel 2:17 in reference to the intercession of the priests of the Lord in behalf of the people.
Joel 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say , Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
So then weeping and mourning in the scriptures in many cases refers to deep, heartfelt repentance from ungodly ways. I believe this is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Blessed are those who have deep, heartfelt repentance for their sins, for they shall be comforted. Through Christ they shall be delivered from their sins.
This idea can be seen again in Isaiah 61, when looking back to the scripture Jesus quoted concerning Himself.
Isaiah 61:1 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;
Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Isaiah 61:3 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.
Jesus came to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. Jesus came to comfort those who repent and turn to Him to receive the blessing of the work of Calvary, the forgiveness of sin, and deliverance from the oppression of darkness.
For those who have turned to God with sincere repentance and have received His free gift of righteousness the words of Psalm 30:11-12 sum it up.
Psalms 30:11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
Psalms 30:12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.