One thing I love about the Bible is how real the people inside it are. They’re not airbrushed models of morality, only showing their good side. We see them struggle with anger, sin, and frustration in sharp detail. As they do, we can learn valuable lessons and set a godly example for our children.
Read through Psalm 109. In this passage, King David rants about his adversaries. He's angry. He’s so eager to see them repaid for their treachery, he’d make The Count of Monte Cristo look benevolent and forgiving.
As he pours out his heart to God, he mentions a group of adversaries. He uses “them” and “they” several times. Then, he transitions to the singular and more personal, “him.”
There’s a group of opponents who have “repaid evil for good.” But, there’s also that one guy in particular. Probably the ringleader. Maybe he’d formerly been David’s ally?
He’s blunt about what he wants God to do with this guy. Here are a few of David's "suggestions":
- Appoint a wicked man over him
- Let his days be few
- Let his children be fatherless...and his wife a widow
- Let his children wander about and beg
- Let the creditor seize all that he has
Whoo-boy. There's no love lost here. But, we can get the wrong message. We might conclude, “Yeah baby! Finally! Biblical proof that I can call down fire and brimstone on that (boss, colleague, mother-in-law…) I really hate!” Not so fast there, Captain Vengeance.
Much as I might like that takeaway, I don’t think it’s the right one. David’s mental state is not the ideal setting for a follower of God. But, that’s a key point.
God doesn’t require his people to have life all figured out before they come to Him. He can handle our raw, unedited prayers. He prefers them! We don’t need to bottle them up or polish them off, just hand them over. We really can come as we are.
Specifically, if you’re a guy like me who’s trying to be an engaged father, I think there’s another lesson we shouldn’t miss. It can help each of us be a better dad. And, we can teach it to our children to help them navigate the tricky people life puts in their path.
Take anger about people to God first
David takes his frustrations directly to God. Now, if I were the Psalmist, this would’ve started as pillow talk with my wife. She’d have gotten fed up with my griping and said, “Sounds like you should go do some journaling.” That’s how it might go down at my house.
For all I know, David's wife said the same thing! But, absent any record of that, what we see is David laying his “people challenges” at God’s feet. This is huge. It’s a safe place for him to bring relational trouble.
If we can model this – and, if we can teach it to our children – we can reduce the stress in our homes and avoid the temptation of turning people challenges into gossip and backbiting. It will help us and them to live a life of integrity and peace.