Sometimes my two-year-old granddaughter’s entire body displays her displeasure with life and or a directive from me. Her tiny balled-up fists jerk about, her bottom lip protrudes, as a steady stream of “no, no, no,” alerts everyone to her frustration. As a toddler, her vocabulary might be limited, but her feelings are made crystal clear.
Flashpoint anger flares in my heart. Sometimes it catches me by surprise, but other times it is been on a slow simmer for hours or even days. As a child, I was trained in the ways of emotional suppression. Anger was never acceptable, and all unpleasant emotional responses were to be squashed down post-haste.
So how do I “be angry and sin not?” (Ephesians 4:26 ESV) According to the rest of this passage, I’m not even supposed to let the sun go down on my anger. So much for sleeping it off!
I believe that God provided the psalms for soul care. Each one is designed to help process difficult emotional reactions like sadness, fear, anger, and joy. Today I’m looking at Psalm 5.
King David knew a little about anger and frustration. He opens Psalm 5 by begging God to hear him.
1Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2 ESV)
David asked God to hear not only his words but also his feelings expressed in groanings and cries. He pours out all of his frustration directly to his loving heavenly father. Processing anger with God is a healthy option for David and for me. God may already know everything, but he longs to hear from me even when it’s negative. I can afford to get real with God. Psalm 5 provides a liturgy for me to use to process my anger with God.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. (Psalm 5:3-4 ESV)
Thank you, LORD, that I am truly seen and heard by you. As I wait for you, I lay before you my life and beg for your intervention. Life is hard right now and things seem very unfair. When I spend time with you, God, I can take a break from the evils of this world. In your presence are peace, joy, and light.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:5-6 ESV)
Lord, thank you that you will level the playing field and it is not up to me to fetch justice for myself or my loved ones. You will handle all those who frustrate me or cause pain. Lord, guard my heart against becoming deceptive especially towards myself. Help me to have an accurate view of myself and others based on your truth. Only you can help me to acknowledge my anger and sin not. Amen.
The first half of Psalm 5 provides so much that is needed to process through anger. Next week, I’ll be looking at the final six verses to see the completion of this process.