When you are disturbed do not sin…

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Psalm 4:4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. 5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.

If you’re new to reading this blog you may not know that I read several passages each morning and then write about the one that speaks most to me on that day. There is a psalm, an Old Testament reading, then a New Testament reading. Somedays, like today, two or more of the daily readings seem to go together.

The verse above is obviously from the psalm for today. The Hebrew word translated here as “disturbed” refers to a heightened sense of anger or fear. Frankly anger is often the byproduct of fear. When we are angry/fearful we tend not to make the best decisions. I know this is certainly true of me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that I am more effective when I give myself a day or so to calm down rather than responding out of the heat of the moment. In the book of Ephesians the apostle Paul counsels:

26 Be angry but do not sin… and do not make room for the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

And then, as if to give a clear example of what NOT to do, there is our passage from Matthew:

13 Now after (baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) left Bethlehem for home, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod…16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. (Matthew 2:13-15)

V.16 uses the word “infuriated” to describe Herod’s state of mind when he ordered untold number of infants be put to death. Why? Because he was protecting his throne from ANYONE – even a baby. It’s hard to imagine how awful it must have been to watch infant after infant dashed against the rocks or run through with the sword as their mothers watched. Nothing short of evil!

I trust neither you or I would ever command such a thing, even if we had the power to do so. That said, it’s easy to do violence to other people out of fear or anger. The most common form of violence I see isn’t physical but verbal. When we’re angry it’s easy to say things that are incredibly hurtful, particularly to those closest to us. We know just what to say to inflict the greatest pain. Or maybe instead of talking directly to our loved one we talk about them to others – which is just as bad.

Psalm 4:5 “… put your trust in the Lord”

This is a hard one for me. True, it’s a good idea to talk directly with someone with whom we have a problem or conflict. The key is not to do so when we’re angry. What I’m learning to do is to take some time to pray first, to ask the Lord to calm my spirit, to put my trust in the Lord to bring about a solution. Lord let it be so. Amen.

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