Ever been really, really mad. Circumstances or people were just not cooperating. Explosion is all you’re feeling. Bad words come to mind. Bad actions.
I’ve been there, just fuming, pissed off as some would say.
And so was David, which makes me feel so good! (I’m sorry, David, to rejoice in your weakness!) A “man after God’s own heart” had problems with anger. But because he was a godly man, he also shows me how to resolve it in a way I can relate.
Verse 1 begs, “Be not silent, O God of my praise!” I couldn’t help but think that God was silent because he knows David wants to do all the talking/shouting. David’s really not actually talking to God, but at God. He spews for 20 verses of what he thinks about the person/circumstances and what God needs to do about it.
He starts by giving the guts of the situation: someone(s) is lying about him, defaming him, betraying him. It hurts.
Then he expresses his wish list of what should happen to the person. It’s filled with “let him” and “may he” and what follows one isn’t pretty. His curses extend not only to the person who betrayed him, but the wife and children. David wants them all punished and damned eternally.
Then he calms down just a little bit, just like we do, after a rant. The focus switches from what he wants to happen to that person to his own feelings, how deeply it hurt. I do that when I’m ranting, and it’s good for me to get in touch with what’s happening inside of myself. Sometimes it results in more ranting (verses 19 & 20 revert back to the “may”) but I do get closer to a more centered feeling.
Verse 21 is the breakthrough. In the midst of ranting, he knows the only person who can fix it, the person he came to in verse 1, but couldn’t be quiet long enough to listen. I always look for the “but” in Psalms. It tells me a change is coming, a new way of thinking.
God is the only one who can fix it.
Why would he fix it?
Because of his steadfast love for David. Because he is powerful enough to fix it.
Humbled, David sounds very different in next verses. He’s needy; his heart is stricken. He’s honest about his feelings, his desperation. He can hardly stand in the midst of his feelings.
He cries out for help, and asks for his salvation. He can’t resist still telling God what to do, but it’s more reasonable now, wrapped in who God is. It’s focused on God having revenge for his honor, not David having revenge for David’s honor.
And David ends giving thanks to God, because of the assurance he now feels. He’s let it all out, even sinned himself, expressing his hate for his betrayer. But God can take it. He loves us with his steadfast love, good, bad and ugly.
And God is still the same. He will do what he feels is right in the situation. Even if someone is cursing us, God’s blessing is bigger than the curse.
We don’t know what happened after David wrote this Psalm, but in my “holy” imagination, I picture him getting up off of his knees, looking around at his tent, strapping on his armor and going out and doing what needed to be done that day.
When God and I fight through my anger and I’m done ranting and return to him, I can do the same. I strap on my spiritual armor and become obedient. When I began my rant, I couldn’t do anything as upset as I was. But now, I can…
Because of his steadfast love.
I’d love to hear from you — how do you work your way through anger? Feel free to comment!