And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. I Samuel 11.6If you were ask me if I was righteous in my "indignation", I would probably say "yes". In the moment, we can all feel as though our anger is justified but that is not really the idea behind "righteous indignation".
As it turns out, this is one of Saul's brighter moments because he is exhibiting anger in a way consistent with the nature and example of Jesus himself.
Jesus got angry?
Yes He did! On three different occasions we are told that Jesus exhibited anger but it was always in a specific context. It is by this context, as illustrated by Saul, that we must measure our own anger.
First lets see the three instances:
And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. John 2.13-17What these stories show us about Jesus' anger
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. Mark 3.1-5
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. Mark 10.13-16
In each case Jesus got angry when there was someone standing in the way of folks (or children) getting to God. He was angry at the sellers in the temple as their selling table became a barrier to people having free access to the temple; He was angry at the religious leaders as they sought to prevent Jesus from healing on the Sabbath; and He became angry at His own disciples for trying to prevent the children from approaching Him.
Jesus' anger was always on behalf of others.
It is this "anger on behalf of another" that Saul is exhibiting in our text.
With Jesus there are several other instances where, though not told explicitly we see implicitly that Jesus was angry, He certainly had curt words for the Pharisees and priests and religious leaders who were laying burdens on the people and generally made being one of God's chosen people pretty miserable.
Importantly, we are not told of any occasion where Jesus became angry about anything said or done to Him. In fact Jesus never even defended Himself, He just spoke truth, acted in a way pleasing to the Father and left the reaction to those around Him... amazing. Isn't our Lord wonderful!
Now my anger is usually a response to something someone did to me. And... I can feel pretty righteous about feeling as I do. Fact is people really do sometimes do terrible things to us or say terrible things about us... I mean they really are out of line! And it is those times that I can really pull out the righteous indignation card and wave it around, "hey, I am justified in feeling this way."
Yet Jesus shows us a better way.
This is one of those reminders that, upon hearing it I instantly become exceedingly aware of the fact that I am not going to be able to pull that off on my own. This is not a natural character trait for any of us but it is a character trait available to all of us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Gal 5.22And, in order to live like Jesus did, walking in the Spirit, constantly in fellowship with the Father, we need the whole fruit basket. No grabbing an apple or banana before we rush out the door in the morning.
If you have "let the sun go down on your anger" would you do yourself a favor this morning and just let it go. Just give it to the Lord, forgive, and move on.
That offense was nailed to the cross, its penalty was paid by Jesus who would again today say:
"if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account" Philemon 18Be free today to live without the burden of anger.