1 Samuel 20:34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.
“Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Being angry is not sinful. Being fiercely angry is not sinful. It is what we do with the anger. Jonathan had every right to be fiercely angry with his father, King Saul. His father, who was also his King and commanding officer, had just tried to kill him. All Jonathan was trying to do was to defend David. Think of the betrayal of trust and the deep wounds that Saul had inflicted upon Jonathan. Put yourself in Jonathan’s shoes – Saul would not listen to reason. On top of that, he is trying to kill you and your best friend for being a threat to his power and questioning his authority.
Jesus was also very angry at times. This anger came from His deep sadness for the hardness of the Jewish leaders’ hearts. Jesus was angry because of “hard hearts in the face of human hurts” – Adrian Rogers.
Mark 3:5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Moses, the meekest man in all the earth, left the presence of Pharaoh in “hot anger.” If you read how Pharaoh was behaving, you will understand Moses’ hot anger. Pharaoh’s arrogance, stubbornness and rebellion against God was growing while his land and people were being destroyed before his very eyes. He just would not listen. Can you understand why Moses had “hot anger”?
Exodus 11:8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.
In these above passages, we see righteous men who were angry, and rightly so. But we are also reminded many times in the Scriptures about the danger of our anger.
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James says our anger does not produce God’s righteousness. So, we can take passages about people being justifiably angry, and justify ourselves saying, “See, I have a right to be angry!” Wait a minute. What are we doing with that “justified” anger? We can say we have a right to be angry, and then use that as our justification for rudeness, avoiding people, gossip and offensive behavior. If that’s the case, then we are producing our righteousness, not God’s.
If we are “righteously angry”:
- Are we moving toward resolutions and solutions? Or are we just talking about it?
- Are we seeking vengeance or reconciliation?
- Are we really using God’s word to deal with the anger and offenses or are we using our own human wisdom to resolve conflicts?
Here are a few thoughts about the men in the above passages who were angry.
Jonathan was angry with his father Saul, but he directed his energy to protecting, encouraging and defending David. He could not change his father, but Jonathan could keep his father’s wickedness from affecting his own behavior. He could also refuse to allow his father’s view of David to affect how he saw and treated David.
Jesus was angry with the Jewish leaders, and righteously so. Jesus prayed for them. He wept for them. At times He confronted and rebuked them for their hypocrisy. But again, just like Jonathan, Jesus went out and continued to do good for others, specifically those “others” that were hurt by the Jewish leadership.
Moses was very angry with Pharaoh, and he rebuked and confronted Pharaoh. But Moses clearly knew that Pharaoh’s heart was full of rebellion against God. This wasn’t against Moses, it was against God – Moses knew that. Moses could not take his own vengeance against Pharaoh, he knew that God would take care of Pharaoh. Moses kept doing what God called him to do, and God dealt with Pharaoh.
We may be angry, and we may feel very justified in that anger, but what are we doing about it?