“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent”. Psalm 4:4
US President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favouritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a letter. Later, Stanton told the President he was ready to send the strongly worded letter. Lincoln said, “You don’t want to send that letter. . . . Put it in the stove. That’s what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It’s a good letter, and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another.”
David had every right to be angry. Falsely accused and slandered (Psalm 4:2), he could have written a sharp letter counterattacking his accusers. Instead, David brought his emotions and pain to God with a prayer expressing his quiet confidence in Him. Instead of retaliation, he chose silent reflection—redirecting his anger and calmly reflecting on God’s goodness and faithfulness (Psalm 4:3-8).
Knowing that God had set him apart for godliness (Psalm 4:3), David warned of the danger of being angry enough to seek revenge on those who slander us. “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent” is a radical therapy against impulsive anger (Psalm 4:4). Angry feelings aren’t necessarily sinful, but letting anger control you invariably leads to grievous sins (Genesis 4:1-8;Ephesians 4:26-27). Elsewhere, David warned, “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm” (Psalm 37:8).
Is it any wonder, then, that David was able to rejoice and could say, “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (Psalm 4:7-8). We need to learn to apply David’s radical therapy (Psalm 4:4)
This passage was written by K T Sim and first appeared in www.ourdailyjourney.org