“Don’t sin by letting your anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” Psalm 4:4
I was angry. Not just angry, but ugly angry. I wanted to give that guy a piece of my mind. He had ticked me off, and I wanted him to know it…
How many of us have done or said something in the heat of anger, that we later deeply regretted?
Anybody with me?
David instructs us with these words in Psalm 4:4, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent,” (NLT). Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26, “And don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives foothold to the devil,” (NLT).
So…what am I supposed to do? Be quiet and ignore my anger? Sleep on it? Not sleep on it? Oh, the choices to make on this side of heaven…
Luckily, we can know what to do with our anger, and while these passages may seem as if they are contradicting to one another, a closer look in the Word reveals they are very complimentary.
One thing they both have in common, and one we must understand, is that they tell us that in our anger we must not sin. Neither one says we cannot be angry. Anger is simply an emotion; however, when we give into our emotions, and let them drive our behavior – that’s when we are most likely led to sin.
In Psalm 4:4, David, tells us to think about it overnight and remain silent. Now, I don’t know about you, but often times, the more I think about something that ticks me off, the more angry I become! So, how could thinking about it make things better? But notice David says, think about it overnight. Overnight? Overnight?! Yes…overnight. You see, during the night, it is dark and difficult to see – we certainly cannot see things clearly; yet, in the morning, at the first break of dawn, the sun casts its brilliant light into the shadows to help us see things differently – beyond the boundaries of the darkness, where we can discover truth.
We are also instructed in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise,” (NLT). Perhaps, it is not our anger that we are to think about or dwell on. I believe David is telling us to think about the truth. What really happened, and what is it that we are really angry about? Are we angry because someone has sinned against us – wronged us? And if that is the case, what does Jesus instruct us to do? Have we ourselves, not sinned against God?
And yet, He offers forgiveness.
Maybe that is why David also tells us to remain silent. Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back,” (NLT). Even Job cried out, “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” Job 6:24 (NLT). I think that is why we can learn so much, when we shut up and listen – especially when the voice we are listening to and for, is the voice of God – the Light that comes overnight – piercing through the darkness with rays of hope. Perhaps David’s words are best captured through the English Standard Version for us to understand, “…ponder in your own hearts on your own beds, and be silent.”
I believe this is what Paul is telling us to do, too, when he warns us, “And don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” He is not telling us to quickly get in an apology, or to dismiss our anger, or sweep it under the rug. He is telling us to deal with it. To make it right with God and in our hearts before the darkness settles in around us – before we allow the darkness in that shadows the truth.
The moment we allow our anger to breed in the dark, the uglier and more dangerous it becomes. It begins to grow and consume us. No, we must not allow the sun to set on our anger. Instead, we must persevere by surrendering our thoughts to the only One who can pull us through – the One who is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable – the One who is excellent and praiseworthy. That is why we are instructed to remain silent, and to think about it, because only Jesus can instruct us on the appropriate way to respond.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your Word. Thank you for revealing more and more to me, as I spend time with you each day. Your Word is my daily bread, and I am humbled that you would share it with me. May your Spirit continue to grow in me in such a way that only point to you.
I ask this in your precious name,