The question for today? What does anger have to do with fighting your giants?
In fighting Goliath, we’ve seen you need help from God and possibly others. You need to conquer your fear. You need to get over your feelings of rejection. You need to get out of your comfort zone. But what is this about anger?
Well, if you’re like me, every time I’ve worked on a habit I’m trying to change and then that habit pops back up I get angry. Mostly at myself, but sometimes at those around me and even at God.
I don’t know if that has ever happened to you, but if you’ve ever tried to break some habit and failed the first few times, I expect that ugly emotion popped its head up and made its appearance known in some way. Why can’t I just get rid of this thing that hinders me from being the man I want to be, the man God wants me to be? Why can’t I be the perfect husband or father or leader? I think I know what right looks like most of the time, but I just can’t seem to do it sometimes. And so I get angry.
Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s one of those emotions that God put in us. The Bible tells us that even Jesus got angry. Remember the story of Jesus as he entered the temple courtyard and saw the money changers cheating the people who entered? He was not just a little upset at what he saw. He was angry. So angry, in fact, that he overturned the tables where the thieves were sitting. He picked up a whip and drove them out of the temple courtyard. He had some pretty harsh words to say about them and about the leaders that allowed them to carry out their dishonest businesses in the temple. Jesus was beyond man and hit the ceiling of real deep down anger.
So let’s get back to our David and Goliath story. Any anger there? I expect there was a lot of it floating around. Some focused rightly and some not so. If we could put ourselves back into the story, I think we would see Saul’s army angry at Goliath for his taunts, but probably more angry at themselves because they were too cowardly to stand up to him on the battlefield.
Perhaps some of those soldiers were angry with Saul because he had no battle plan to face the Philistines poised across the valley from them. They had fought before and God led them to victory, but here their leader just sat, scared of the forces in front of him. Making them listen to the taunts and blasphemy that spewed from the mouth of this giant. They were angry at their king because they just sat and did nothing.
Maybe the army was angry at God because he didn’t reveal himself to them as he had before. He didn’t come down with any lightning bolts or an earthquake or some other freak sign of nature to destroy their enemies. God just let them be humiliated in the eyes of these pagan warriors that stood across from them.
Then David arrives.
His brothers were angry that he inquired about this giant and why no one dared to fight him. They were angry that he left the sheep in the hands of someone else and shirked his responsibilities at home, leaving their father on his own. They were angry at him because his words made them look a little cowardly. They were angry with him because he dared to recommend actions others wouldn’t take.
Then there is Goliath. He was angry at his enemies. He was angry just because the Israelites were alive and in the land he thought belonged to his people. He was angry because he wanted a fight and none of those cowardly soldiers on the hillside were brave enough to come out and face him. Goliath was angry because his king placed him in the valley as a challenge to the Israelites. He expected to win in a one on one fight, but he could also lose or be injured. As much as he enjoyed killing his enemies, he didn’t relish the thought of another injury in battle. Goliath was angry because once again, the king used his size to intimidate his enemies instead of real battlefield strategies and put him in danger while his fellow soldiers just acted as spectators.
And David. David was angry because his brothers ridiculed him. They tried to belittle the journey he made at his father’s request. David was angry because he felt a little picked on because his brothers had no confidence in him as the youngest in his family. David was angry at the Israelite army because they listened to the taunts of Goliath for 40 days and did nothing to stop his blasphemy. He was especially angry at Goliath because of what he said about his God. He was angry enough to take up his challenge and fight him.
So anger is not always a bad thing as we see from this story. Some of the anger some of these characters reveal is not the right anger. But some is. The soldiers’ anger at Saul for not doing anything is probably justified. Saul needed to listen to God and lead his army to victory against this pagan nation. But he had already lost his connection with God because of his greed and the power he thought he had. Anger focused at Goliath and the Philistines for their blasphemies against God were justified.
Sometimes anger is good. It can get us off our best intentions and get us to take action. It keeps us from accepting things as they are and lets us begin to make things better. But this anger is only good when it is focused on the right thing. If we keep that anger focused on the right things, we can use it to defeat that thing that looks like a giant in our life. We can use that energy and focus to help us get through the apathy that lets that thing keep us discouraged, defeated, trapped in its clutches. We can use the energy that comes with anger to focus our attention on its defeat.
David’s anger at Goliath helped propel that stone with extraordinary strength and accuracy to defeat that giant that stood in his way. David’s anger took the shape of that nine-foot obstacle so he could focus on what his real problem was in that valley. When we can figure out the real problem, not the symptoms, but the problem that is causing us the defeated life we feel, we can focus our anger appropriately.
So as you face the giants in your life, be angry for the right reason. You may be angry at yourself for failing to keep some promise to yourself about some behavior, but remember that if you’re trying to change something, change takes time. It’s usually not instantaneous like most of us would like. Change takes time and effort. Channel anger into constructive activity that will do something about your giant. Use it to give you the energy, passion, impetuous you need to get out of your position of weakness and into a position where you can face those giants from a position of strength.
Let God fight your battles. Recognize that he can help you even with your emotions and can help you focus the energy that comes with anger toward the right things. Anger is one of those emotions we experience from time to time. It is not necessarily unhealthy, as Jesus showed us in the temple. As David showed us as he faced Goliath. But also, we can not let anger rule us or let it get focused on the wrong thing or used as a source of power for revenge or vengeance.