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Anger – A Biblical Perspective
What is anger? – A strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence a deep and strong feeling aroused by injury, injustice, or wrong, (real or imagined.)
Anger is a feeling, an emotion aroused by injury, injustice, or wrong against the ‘self’.
You may think as we go through this lesson that this study is directed towards someone in particular. You are correct it is directed to both you and me. Anger always involves ‘self’. We all have to deal with anger at some point and time in our lives. It is important that we learn not how to manage our anger, but we need to learn how to master it!
When God sends a word to establish His truth he often confirms it by two or three witnesses. You see this principle in Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15, and in again in Matthew 18:16, 18:20, 1 Corinthians 14:27-29, 2 Corinthians 13:1. Keeping with this, we will look at three examples of anger in the Bible. What picture does the Bible paint about anger and how does the Bible tell us to handle anger?
Cain and Abel Genesis 4:1 – 16
Vs. 3 – 5 – What was the source of Cain’s anger towards his brother?
God rejected Cain’s offering?
- Cain took God’s rejection of his offering as a rejection of him personally.
- Cain seems to see this rejection or slight is being against him because God somehow favors Abel over him.
- Did God favor Abel over Cain?
- Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
Vs6 – 7 – God told Cain if he did what was right he would be accepted
- God warned Cain that unless his heart and conduct changed sin was waiting like a predator for an opportunity to take him over.
- God further warned Cain that he must master sin (anger) and conquer it!
- Anger mastery not anger management!
Vs. 8 – 10 – Did Cain take to heart anything God said to him? (NO!)
What was the sad and tragic result of ignoring God’s direction and counsel? He talks to (argues?) with his brother and while they are out in the field Cain ambushes and kills Abel his brother!
The murder of Abel was the direct result of Cain’s selfishness, arrogance and disobedience. Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22 equates being angry (without cause) with being a murderer. Anger left to itself will always result in murder.
Anger is the fuel that lights the bonfire of destruction in the lives of all who indulge its murderous influence!
Vs. 10 – 16 – After killing Abel, did Cain have or show any sorrow or remorse?
- The only remorse you see from Cain for himself. He says that God’s judgment is too harsh. Notice that ‘self’ refuses to even answer to God for its wrong!
What was the end of Cain?
- Banishment from God’s presence
- A cursed ground
- A cursed life, lineage and family
One major cause of anger depicted by these verses is?
Rejection – real or imagined
Rejection by friends, or loved ones hurts
How we handle rejection is a measure of our Spiritual maturity before the Lord!
Saul and David – I Samuel 18:5- 14
Vs 5 – Saul the King gives David a commission in the Israelite army!
This act by the King elevated David’s status in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of Saul’s servants (ministers)
Vs6-7 – After a great victory over their enemy the grateful nation throws Saul and David a parade. They sang and danced in the streets giving praise to Saul and to David for the great victory they had won.
Vs8 – Upon hearing the women ascribe more of the victory to David than him, Saul became “displeased” and very angry!
Why was Saul “displeased”?
Why was Saul “wroth” (very angry)?
Saul felt slighted and humiliated in the eyes of the people!
Saul felt threatened by David’s fame and popularity with the people
Saul resented the respect and adoration that David received because he thought that it took away from him the honor and respect that was due him being the King.
Here you see another source of what causes anger.
Being slighted, humiliated, or threatened (real or imagined) can lead one into extreme anger.
What had David done at this point to deserve Saul’s feelings of slight (rejection), humiliation and fear?
Saul’s feelings towards David were rooted in his own insecurity.
Saul’s anger so consumed and infected him to such a degree that he was never able to see the truth about David (he was innocent of any offence against Saul).
To accept the truth about David would mean that Saul would have to admit the truth about himself. Pride will prevent you from seeing your faults and only focusing on the faults of others.
Vs9 – Saul’s attitude towards David changed forever from this point forward.
- His anger turned his heart against David
- His anger poisoned his mind about David
- His anger consumed him just like Cain’s anger consumed him!
Vs10 – As a result of God’s judgement, God removed His spirit from Saul. Since he was determined to ignore God’s will for His life.
An evil spirit from the Lord (I Sam16) returned to torment (chastise) Saul. This was done to try and get Saul’s attention and to turn him back from his sin!
Examples of this can be seen here:
- Ananias and Sapphire refused to turn and it cost them their lives (Acts 5:1-11
- Incest and adultery in the Church at Corinth (1 Cor 5:1-6)
- Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:7)
Vs1 – 14 –
What was Saul’s attitude towards David from this point forward?
- He was afraid of David
- He felt that David had to die to appease his offended pride
- He plotted, planned and looked for ways to kill David
- Direct attempts by javelin
- Indirect attempts by subterfuge, and hidden agendas
- Broke his promise and denied marriage to Merab Saul’s daughter
- Put David in charge of the army so he could be killed in battle
- Saul gives Michal to wife who Saul hoped would be a snare and problem to David
Here we see again how direct the connection is between murder and anger.
How did David respond to Saul’s attitude and treatment of him?
- He behaved himself wisely!!!
- Read the rest of the chapter and you see this phrase repeated many times.
- This is the answer on how to respond and master anger
The Prodigal Son – Luke 15: 11 – 32
This story in the Bible is about a wayward son who leaves home as selfish, arrogant and foolish individual and returns as a humble, repentant and wiser son. It is story about mercy, forgiveness and redemption that is available by the grace of a loving father. Often missed in the story is another lesson about the other son. The other Prodigal son in the story is the one who never left home but the one who also was selfish, arrogant and foolish. His story is told starting at verse 25.
Vs25 – 30 – Why was the elder son angry?
He felt slighted, and wronged by his father. He said he served faithfully his father for many years, and never disobeyed anything his father told him to do.
He said he was ‘never’ given a fatted calf, or a party so he could celebrate with his friends.
He told his father that he was wrong for celebrating the return of the son who had wasted his life in riotous living.
Notice how ‘self’ is always at the source of anger? Notice how the offense seems to give almost a ‘righteous’ tone to the sons accusations.
The son said he never disobeyed anything his father told him? He is disobeying the father by refusing to come into the feast but that truth is lost on him because he thinks he is right even when he is actively engaged in doing wrong! Never disobeying and serving faithfully doesn’t look anything like he is behaving right now!
Anger has a way of not letting you see the truth even when it is staring you right in the face!
Vs. 30 – 32 – The father explains that he has not slighted the elder son. What is happening has nothing to do with the elder son.
The elder son has all of the privileges and honor that go with being the elder son. Whatever mercy, forgiveness and kindness the father shows to the younger son, is done because it is the right thing to do. (vs. 32)
This takes nothing away from the elder son, and in fact he should be rejoicing along with the father at the return and restoration of his brother.
See how relentless and unreasonable ‘self’ is once anger has taken hold of the emotions. It will cause you to do and say things that go directly against what we know to be right.
The elder son’s anger caused him to rebel against his father, and sin against him and against heaven just like his younger brother did.
How to respond to anger in the Bible
The key to responding and mastering anger is to learn how to behave yourself wisely. No matter how angry you are, you are still expected to handle yourself as it befits being a Christian. The following Scriptures are helpful in helping us to behave ourselves wisely. Read and mediate on them.
Eccl 7:9 – “Be not hasty in the spirit for anger rested in the bosom of fools”
Eccl 5:6 – “Suffer not thy mouth to cause they flesh to sin…”
Psalms 37:8 – “Cease from anger and forsake wrath”
Prove 14:7 – “He that is soon angry dealt foolishly…”
Prove 29:22 – “An angry man stirred up strife…”
Eph 4:26 – Be ye angry but sin not, let not the sun go down upon your wrath”