In Psalm 39, David addresses an interesting choice he made: to keep quiet, to hold his tongue…to not argue back.
We have become a nation of “right fighters” (to use a well-worn Dr. Phil-ism). We argue for argument’s sake. We chose to be right, no matter how ridiculous we sound or how much damage it does to our witness…or our relationships.
David probably felt he had every right to speak. After all, he WAS God’s chosen one. But he opted to put a muzzle on himself.
The problem was, it didn’t solve the problem. What he wanted to say just built up inside until he was ready to burst. He saw issues, problems and he became frustrated by not addressing them.
But when he was at his bursting point, instead of exploding on the person creating the issue, having the problem, making the mistake, or whatever…he didn’t vent or rant all over them. He didn’t go to social media and spill his guts. He didn’t dump on a friend.
No. He turned to God. “I felt a fire burning inside, and the more I thought, the more it burned, until at last I said, “Please, LORD, show me my future (vs. 4-5a).”
He took his anger directly to the place where it could do the most good and then rather than focusing on someone else, someone who he couldn’t change—no matter how much he argued—he pleaded with God to better understand himself.
As a pastor, I have talked and counseled with many people who are angry…typically with the behavior or choices of someone else…sometimes with God. And they stew and stew until they finally blow. Usually the eruption ends up falling upon someone totally innocent and unworthy of the volcanic spewing.
When I query as to whether they consider taking the matter to God, they are shocked and appalled. In their minds they have “protected” God from their anger…as if that’s possible and as if God couldn’t handle it—he’s just so fragile, you know?
God’s not fragile. He’s also not afraid of our anger. Paul clearly instructs the Ephesians to “be angry, but sin not.” Remember, Jesus got angry on the more than one occasion—just ask the money changers in the temple, or the Pharisees.
Hold your tongue when you can. Nothing is gained by arguing for argument’s sake. And before you dump your anger on someone else, try taking it to God. He can handle it.