By Robert Halsey Pine
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret – it leads only to evil.” (Psalm 37:1-18 NRSV).
David really got me on this verse. In many of his psalms he talks about wrongdoers and evil people and how they will not prevail over the righteous. Here he slips in one aimed right at me. He tells me that if I get angry, I’ll be letting evil in. Think about the last time that you got angry.
I remember a time I got really angry and thought that I had taken the high ground. I was just not going to put up with the kind of behavior that a co-worker was exhibiting. He had hit my hot button and I let him have it with both barrels. I shouted, “How could you possibly say that…!” My blood pressure went up as I unloaded my gunnysack of grievances that I’d been storing up. I rationalized afterward that even though I acted out of anger, God would be okay with me because it might actually help the person straighten out. After all, didn’t Jesus knock down the tables of the moneychangers?
My problem came when I couldn’t get the sick, unclean feeling that I had after the episode to go away. Then I began to wonder if there was a better way to have handled the situation. Finally, I realized that I had given evil a great opportunity to gain control of me. My image of being friendly, non-judgmental and forgiving was tarnished. I could have communicated my concern without losing my temper.
The next time a situation like this one presented itself, I took a completely different approach. I calmly explained to the person that what they were doing was bothering me. I told them that I respected them very much, but that this particular thing that they did was very disappointing to me. I was honest about my feelings, while leaving room for reconciliation. The other person responded favorably and I didn’t get that sick, unclean feeling.
Father God, Thank You for Your work with David. As he grew in You, he left us with many good insights into life with You. He adored You and we can learn from his psalms. As You helped David to grow in his faith, please help us. Help us hold our anger and protect us from evil, as we grow and serve You. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.