1 Samuel 11:1-15 – Is There Such A Thing As Righteous Anger?

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 11:1-15
Saul Defeats the Ammonites

Is anger ever good? I have, because of events over the course of my life, always thought getting angry to the point of arguing or fighting was wrong. It was always a negative thing for me. Always a need to apologize. Always a mess to clean up, either literally or figuratively. It always had negative consequences for me, particularly in my relationships with the woman in my life, whomever that might have been at the particular time. There were always consequences for standing up for what I thought was right, in my mind. You know the consequences in a male-female relationship! I would be cut-off from the very thing that I found my personal worth through – sexual relations. Often the result of those occasions where I got angry over some offense to my rights, over some offense to my manhood, over some offense to my kids, whatever, would be to lose the rights and privileges of a man with his woman. Without that validation of my manhood, my worth as a man, I would buckle easily. However, most times, I would sublimate my anger over offenses to keep the supply lines, or the possibility of keeping the supply lines open. Ignoring the needs of my children, sure it would make me angry, but gotta keep the supply lines open. I measured my worth by whether I had access to the bedroom pleasures that my wife gave me. I had no sense of personal value outside that.

Growing up as a Methodist preacher’s kid moving every few years, I learned the approval game early on. I measured my worth by how many people I could get to like me. When you have no roots in a community, when you are frequently the new kid in town, you become a chameleon. You change and adapt to your environment. You are like a bad politician, doing whatever it takes to get elected. In some towns, I was the friend of rich kids and acted the part. In some towns, we were in farming communities and I was a redneck country boy. Whatever was needed to fit in and be approved that was me. That continued in my first two marriages, and particularly the second. Whatever wrongs were done to me, I pushed it down because wanting to be approved and accepted and being validated by sex was the most important thing to me. In my second marriage, there was this jealousy of anything to do with my past when it came to my wife and her kids. It was so bad that I pretty much had to ignore or not overtly show the affection to my own kids that I wanted to show and they needed from me. All the jealousy and in-fighting would make me so angry. Sometimes, I just wanted to hold my girls in my arms but I would always fear the jealousy and repercussions. I almost lost any hope of a relationship with my girls during the 9 years of that marriage. Finally, when my oldest daughter was in college, my second wife thought that our obligation to my oldest child was over. However, having a kid in college is probably the most needed time of support for a child. There are so many things that are not covered by tuition grants and loans. So, trying to avoid confrontations, hid my financial support for my daughter from my second wife, her stepmom.

As with all things that are hidden, they will eventually come to light. And it did. Major confrontation. My life as I knew it was on the line. Sexual validation on one hand and the needs of my child on the other. No denying what happened. The evidence was there. But still being the approval seeker, I tried to smooth it over for a couple of weeks. But finally, you stand for something or you fall for anything. Stand by your child or buckle under the weight of the need for approval. I chose the needs of my child over the needs of my sexual validation on August 4, 2004. I don’t blame my second wife anymore for the choices I was forced to make. Spouses will take the power, fill the vacuum, that you allow them to. They have the power over you that you let them have. On that day in August 2004, I released a decade of pushing anger down and it all exploded in walking away from the oppression of a bad marriage and being forced to ignore my children. There was no physical violence that day but just a release of anger and there were words from which there was no return. No takebacks. This was it. The final confrontation – a decade in the making. The relationship had taken the form I let it take – seeking approval over doing the right things by my kids. The release of anger and of changing the course of my life was freeing. I knew what it was going to cost me but I no longer cared. The release of anger was almost a righteous feeling. Is anger right sometimes?
That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Samuel 11:1-15 this morning – how Saul’s anger at what was happening to the people of Israel was a righteous anger. Sometimes, when it’s spirit-induced anger, it is right to be angry at what is wrong. Let us read this passage now:

11 About a month later,[a] King Nahash of Ammon led his army against the Israelite town of Jabesh-gilead. But all the citizens of Jabesh asked for peace. “Make a treaty with us, and we will be your servants,” they pleaded.

2 “All right,” Nahash said, “but only on one condition. I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel!”

3 “Give us seven days to send messengers throughout Israel!” replied the elders of Jabesh. “If no one comes to save us, we will agree to your terms.”

4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the people about their plight, everyone broke into tears. 5 Saul had been plowing a field with his oxen, and when he returned to town, he asked, “What’s the matter? Why is everyone crying?” So they told him about the message from Jabesh.

6 Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry. 7 He took two oxen and cut them into pieces and sent the messengers to carry them throughout Israel with this message: “This is what will happen to the oxen of anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle!” And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one. 8 When Saul mobilized them at Bezek, he found that there were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000[b] men from Judah.

9 So Saul sent the messengers back to Jabesh-gilead to say, “We will rescue you by noontime tomorrow!” There was great joy throughout the town when that message arrived!

10 The men of Jabesh then told their enemies, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you can do to us whatever you wish.” 11 But before dawn the next morning, Saul arrived, having divided his army into three detachments. He launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites and slaughtered them the whole morning. The remnant of their army was so badly scattered that no two of them were left together.

12 Then the people exclaimed to Samuel, “Now where are those men who said, ‘Why should Saul rule over us?’ Bring them here, and we will kill them!”

13 But Saul replied, “No one will be executed today, for today the Lord has rescued Israel!”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us all go to Gilgal to renew the kingdom.” 15 So they all went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they made Saul king. Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites were filled with joy.

In this passage, we see that anger is powerful emotion. Often it may drive people to hurt others with words or physical violence. But anger directed at sin or injustice is not wrong. Saul was angered by the Ammonites’ threat to humiliate and mistreat his people. The Holy Spirit used Saul’s anger to bring justice and freedom. When injustice or sin makes you angry, ask God how you can channel that anger in constructive ways to help bring about positive change.

I am not hear to celebrate my second divorce. God hates divorce. But God also wants to be the center of our marriages and He never was in either of my first two marriages. These were not God honoring marriages. These were unsaved people out to protect their interests. Mine was maintaining access to sex no matter the cost to me or anyone else.

As I sit here on the birthday of my third and final wife, I thank God that there was that righteous anger over my kids on August 4, 2004. Otherwise, I would never have met the woman that God intended for me in my Elena. She has been the best thing that ever happened to me and she has been so good for my relationship with my girls. It is not either or with her. It is us. Her kids/my kids, they are OUR kids. No choices to make. I am able to love my kids and my wife at the same time. What if I did not have that righteous anger on August 4, 2004 over the state of my relationship with my kids. Where would I be now? I surely would not have the peace that that I have now. With a Christian wife and us living to please God rather than each other, we have ended up having a marriage that pleases us both. On her birthday today, I thank God for having met this woman. On her birthday, I thank God for some righteous anger.

Amen and Amen.

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