Can anger ever be good? I mean in Psalm 4, verse 5 David instructs the reader to be angry without sin right? So, I wondered, “Did Jesus ever get angry?” The answer of course is yes. As a matter of fact, the Bible list several times, such as Him making a whip and laying the leather to some backsides while cleansing the Temple (John 2) and then there’s the Pharisees’ hardness of heart bringing grief and anger in Mark 3.
So what does it mean? Do we have a license to go administer holy slaps to people, as long as it’s with a cheerful heart? Of course not, (even though some of you are enjoying the thought of it). The key is the “without sin” part. We know Jesus lived and ministered without sin and for me Psalm 4 has helped to understand it.
In this Psalm, David is generally understood to be addressing the situation of his son Absalom rebelling against and trying to steal the kingdom. David’s heart was broken, but there was also anger in the picture and we see a helpful 3-part pattern of him dealing with it.
I. He declared God’s goodness
- “You have relieved me in my distress” (v.1)
- “The Lord has set me apart” (v.3)
- “The Lord will hear” (v.3)
- “You have put gladness in my heart” (v.7)
- “You alone O Lord make we dwell in safety” (v.8)
David recounts God’s tremendous faithfulness in the past and present. I too should pause (Selah) and consider the same things in my life. Before I let emotions drive actions, I need to remember that He’s shown grace & mercy to me.
II. He decided to search his own heart
Meditation in the Biblical sense (v.4) is to pray for the Holy Spirit to search us, being still to hear God’s voice, while filling our mind with the truth of God’s word (Philippians 4:8). David identified the sin of the adversaries (arrogance and pride v.2), but his thoughts were focused on God’s sovereignty.
III. He dwelled in God’s peace
To lie down at night in complete peace is absolutely priceless. There is a sufficiency in knowing that God is ultimately in control. If anger hinders my sleep or affects my walk with God, then it’s simply not of Him. When Jesus cleaned house in John 2 it was against hypocrisy and spiritual pollution standing in the way of people seeing a clear picture of God’s love.
That brings me to the question I have to ask myself, “Does Gospel-hindering things and attitudes make me mad, or do I let the trivial stuff get to me?” To be honest, I’m ashamed of my answer and I pray for a different attitude. How about you?
Series: Psalms-Lesson 2