Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. - Psalm 4:4,5
Have you ever discovered a verse you had never noticed before? Or better yet, has a verse ever discovered you?
In our Small Group Leader meeting last week, we were going through Psalm 4 and this verse suddenly caught my attention. I have been meditating on it off and on for the past week.
I knew “Be angry and do not sin” from Ephesians 4:26 but I never knew that Paul was actually quoting from Psalm 4 written about 1,000 years before Paul, the author of Ephesians, was born.
It’s interesting to note that anger is a problem not only for us but was for people 2,000 years ago when Ephesians was written and another 1,000 years before that. Anger is a human problem.
“Be angry and do not sin,” or as can be translated, “be agitated but do not sin” is in command form. It is something we are commanded to do.
What does it mean to be angry and do not sin? How does that even work?
First, it seems to be ok to be angry. God gets angry. It is a natural response to injustice, sin, corruption, lawlessness, etc. Anger sometimes is useful to get us moving and convicted.
Second, righteous anger can be good. I know there are times when I am angry at myself and it causes me to go to God or maybe get moving on something I have put off and put off. Anger can be good.
But anger can also be wrong, especially if our anger is born in selfishness, or if our anger is out of control or if it hurts someone else.
One of the things that caught me off guard was what the verse says to do with our anger…
… “ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”
That’s not something I ever thought to do with my anger. Ponder – think about – mull over – reflect – process your anger on your beds and be silent.
In others words, work it out in your spirit. Examine your anger. Reflect on your motives. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?” “What would God want me to do with this anger?’ “How can this anger bring me closer to Him?” “Is my anger pleasing to Him?”
Then it says to be silent – be silent before Him. Don’t vent it out for the universe to deal or to your friends or your social media outlets. Vent it to God and be silent.
The word “selah” is an interesting word. Scholars are not quite sure what it means – that is why it is not translated for us – we just get the Hebrew word “selah”. At best guess, scholars think it means – “pause”. Take a pause in your anger. Take a rest from it and your thoughts. Be silent and pause.
How can we do this? It sounds so contrary to who and what we are as human beings.
Psalm 4:5 offers us a solution: “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
What is a right sacrifice? What does God want from us?
Psalm 51:17 gives us a clue – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
God wants us to be broken ourselves – not to break others with our words or actions but to be broken and contrite ourselves. To not point our fingers at others but to look within – are our hearts right with God?
Psalm 4:5 also offers us this thought – “put your trust in the Lord.” That is where our anger should go. Trust in God to make things right, to fight our battles, to lead us and guide us, to comfort us and give us peace and rest.
We get angry and fume about it. That is not what God wants.
We get angry and agitated about things. That is not what God wants.
We want people to be punished. That is understandable. Justice is good. But let God deal with it, especially if you are not directly involved. Be at peace and let God work.
If you find yourself constantly angry, agitated, mad at the world – frustrated by everything and everyone – upset and constantly struggling in our spirit - reflect on Psalm 4:4, 5 and rest in God.
Be angry but do not sin. Ponder your anger and really examine it. Be silent before God. Come to Him in our own brokenness and give Him your anger.
Be at peace and rest and trust in Him.
I am excited for our studies of Psalms on Sunday mornings and in many of our small groups. What has God come to teach us?