Tuesday, January 15
Man’s anger and God’s anger
Scripture: Genesis 37-38, Psalm 7, Luke 15
Genesis 34:7 7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.
Psalm 7:6 Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, and arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
Psalm 7:11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.
I’m combining yesterday and today’s reading for this thought.
When Shechem violated Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, Jacob’s sons were grieved and very angry. What Shechem had done was very wrong, so it’s no surprise that Dinah’s brothers were very angry. But as often happens, their anger spilled over into revenge—a terrible revenge that didn’t match the crime. They slaughtered every man in the village, and then plundered the village, making Jacob’s entire family odious to everyone in the region, thus endangering their whole family and forcing them to move.
In Psalm 7, David prays that God will be his refuge and deliver him from evil men who are trying to destroy him. He describes God as a righteous judge and a God who has indignation every day.
Here are two very different expressions of anger.
Jacob’s sons’ anger is unrighteous and unmeasured, results in murder and theft, and creates relationships of fear and hatred, which only result in more fear and hatred. Yes, what Shechem did was wrong—but their angry response was even worse. And this is the problem with human anger, and why James said that “man’s anger doesn’t achieve the righteous life God desires.”
God’s anger, on the other hand, is always righteous. God knows everything. He knows the back story; He knows the truth; He knows the motives of men’s hearts. We rarely, if ever, know that. Our judgement is suspect, lacking in support and substance—which is why we’re told to be very careful about judging. God’s judgment, and His anger, is always perfectly informed and just.
This is why we’re told in Romans 12:19-21 to never take revenge, but leave it to God, and why Paul says in Ephesians 4:31 that we are to put away all anger, wrath, bitterness and malice.
Our anger and judgment are not righteous like God’s. Get rid of your anger! Should we address injustice? Yes—but that is best done when motivated by love that wants what is best for everyone, not anger that only seeks revenge.
Prayer: Lord, help me to relinquish my “right” to be angry, and to be motivated by love and justice, not anger and revenge.