Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became angry. 1 Samuel 11:6
I had been studying the Bible with a James for several weeks. He was always happy, optimistic, and passionate about life. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour we would spend together studying God’s Word each week. But then there was the day that James came to my office with a heavy heart, a downcast spirit, and a sense of hopelessness in his eyes. He wanted to pretend that everything was okay, but we had bonded over God’s Word for too long for him to keep his hurt and pain inside. So he finally told me about his experience of being bullied on the school bus. The more he described, the angrier I became. I had grown to love James. The thought of a group of boys saying and doing cruel things to James broke my heart. I could see the pain in his face as much as he tried to hide it. My anger motivated me to spend extra time with James, give him advice, dig deeper into God’s Word for the promises of love and acceptance that James needed to hear. From that day forward, James and I talked about how to respond to the boys who would mistreat him, how to find himself in the midst of the rejection of others, and how to grow in God’s grace.
Saul had been anointed the first king of Israel. We read in 1 Samuel 10 that Saul was changed by God’s Spirit and that he was given a “new heart.” About a month after this transformational experience with God, Saul was plowing in the field when he was told that King Nahash of Amon would sign a peace treaty with the Israelites on one condition. He would gouge out the right eye of every person in Israel. This is when we read 1 Samuel 11:6 that Saul became angry. I must admit that most of the time I become angry it’s because of my own selfishness. I am concerned about my time, my money, or my reputation. But there are times, as in my experience with James, that I have felt God’s Spirit in me awakening a deep sense of anger due to the injustice around me.
Jesus, Himself, experienced the Spirit descend upon Him causing anger when He cleared the Temple of the moneychangers who were preventing people from worshiping God. There are times when anger is the only response appropriate for the situation. What should be our response to slavery, the sex trade, poverty, orphans, starvation, abuse, racism, and gender inequality in many places around the world? Perhaps if we allowed the Spirit of God to come upon us like Saul allowed in the early days of his reign, we would be angry. Not an anger that consumes our soul, but an anger that motivates us to love, touch, care, and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I know this is a tough subject. I do not like being angry. And because I don’t want to be angry, I don’t let myself watch the TV ads about the starving children around the world, or the women being beaten in places I have never been to. I want to ignore the injustices in the world because I don’t like being angry. But there are times when anger is the only appropriate response. There are times when I need to care enough about the people around me to understand and feel their pain. There are times when I need to feel the anger that motivates me to love. There are times when I need to open my eyes, see the injustices around me, watch the TV ads, and feel the anger that comes from God.