Luke Friesen

April 21, 2017

Today's Passage: Psalm 76

Hello, Journeyers, it’s great to be with you today! I’m Luke, and I work on Watermark’s Young Adults team. I also serve as a Join The Journey editor, so I hope this devotional doesn’t have any typos! I’m married to the lovely Chelsea-Shay, and we’re a couple months away from celebrating our first anniversary. Marriage is a blast!

It’s been a long time since I played college rugby and tried to throw punches, but anger still grabs me at times. As we’ll see in the text today, anger is good when it’s God’s, but usually not when it’s mine.

Psalm 76

Who Can Stand Before You?

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

76:1 In Judah God is known;
his name is great in Israel.
His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah

Glorious are you, more majestic
than the mountains of prey.
The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
all the men of war
were unable to use their hands.
At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.

But you, you are to be feared!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still,
when God arose to establish judgment,
to save all the humble of the earth. Selah

10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you;
the remnant [1] of wrath you will put on like a belt.
11 Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them;
let all around him bring gifts
to him who is to be feared,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who is to be feared by the kings of the earth. (ESV)


[1] 76:10 Or extremity

Key Verse:

But you, you are to be feared!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
(Psalm 76:7)

Central Truth:

God’s righteous anger protects His people and is worthy of praise. His judgments are just, even when they seem extreme; and the proper response is to fear God. Our anger is often sinful, and it can only be made righteous by God’s power working in us.


Last year, I read all the way through the Bible in a way that I never had before. I followed a chronological reading plan that put the books and chapters in the order that their events happened. It’s not always an exact science, but it helped deepen my understanding of Scripture to see it laid out that way.

In that reading plan, Psalm 76 was paired with Isaiah 37 and 2 Kings 19, since it was written to praise God in response to what happened in those chapters.

Jerusalem was under siege by the Assyrians, and things looked really grim. The Israelites prayed for deliverance, and God showed up! Verses 5 and 6 of this psalm talk about men of war being stunned and put to sleep, unable to fight any more. That’s putting it lightly. Isaiah 37:36 and 2 Kings 19:35 say that God killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers overnight. The few who survived, fled. Boom—no more siege! God’s righteous anger against His enemies protected His people and brought Him praise.

I wish my anger did the same thing. But instead of protecting people and being praiseworthy, my anger looks more like getting frustrated when things don’t go my way, losing my cool when I should be patient, or saying something that I immediately regret. It’s possible to be angry and not sin, but my anger almost always involves sin. And when I blow it, I need to confess and repent.

For anger to be righteous, it needs to have the right motivation and focus; it needs to be under God’s control; it needs to have the right duration; and it should accomplish a God-honoring result. Does your anger look like that?

To see an example of righteous anger, read Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, and John 2:13-22—these tell how Jesus grabbed a whip and drove people out of the temple who were using it for dishonest gain. In doing so, He honored God.

Let’s pray that the peace of Christ rules in our hearts (Colossians 3:15) and that any anger we have would be righteous and God-honoring.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you struggle with anger? In what ways does anger show up in your life?

2. How would you define righteous anger? Do you see any of your anger as being righteous? In what ways?

3. What’s the right response to anger? What steps can you take to be less angry and more peaceful?


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