ODJ: chill or kill?

January 25, 2015 

READ: Psalm 4:1-8 

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent (v.4).

American 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 (vv.3-8).

Knowing that God had set him apart for godliness (v.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 (v.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” (4:7-8). We need to learn to apply David’s radical therapy (v.4), or as my daughter often says to me, “Chill, Dad. Chill.”

—K.T. Sim

365-day plan› Genesis 41:37-57

Read Genesis 4:1-8 to see how one man’s anger led to the very first murder. 
Think of someone who has angered you. Reflect on Psalm 4 and see how it can help you respond to him/her biblically. How does Jesus’ example encourage you in your battle with anger?