How to Extinguish​ Anger

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Will Rogers, the famous cowboy and entertainer, once said, “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.”  While anger is a normal human emotion and not inherently wrong (Mark 3:5), we must always keep it in check and not let it cause us to sin (Ephesians 4:26).  God knew we would struggle with controlling our anger.  Because of this, His word is full of heavenly advice for us to heed.  For example, we should react slowly to it (James 1:19), not be eager to harbor it in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 7:9), and to ultimately put it away from us (Ephesians 4:31).  Paul said those who practice “outbursts of anger” will not go to heaven (Galatians 5:20-21).  So, how can we not let anger get the best of us?

In 1 Samuel 25, we read of the account between David, Nabal, and Abigail. David’s men provided a type of third-party protection for Nabal’s sheep enterprise. Nabal was a rich man but very harsh and evil in his business dealings (1 Samuel 25:2-3).  David’s request for compensation was shot down by Nabal (25:5-12).  David responded by “girding on his sword” along with 400 of his men and heading straight toward Nabal’s camp (25:13).  Nabal’s men knew David was fair and worthy of his wages and that Nabal had made a grave error.  They relayed this information to Abigail, Nabal’s beautiful and intelligent wife (25:14-17).  She knew she needed to act fast to prevent David from destroying Nabal’s house (25:18-22). Notice what the text shares as to how she diffused the anger of David:

  • 1 Samuel 25:23 – She was humble and kept calm.
  • 1 Samuel 25:24 – She accepted responsibility for her husband’s foolish actions.
  • 1 Samuel 25:25 – She does not make excuses but states the facts.
  • 1 Samuel 25:26 – She ties in the Lord to their conversation.
  • 1 Samuel 25:27 – She offers hospitality.
  • 1 Samuel 25:28-31 – She describes the future blessings of not taking out his anger on them.

Notice Abigail did not fight fire with fire. Instead, she extinguished David’s fire. Her discernment worked!  David was convinced not to take revenge in a fit of rage and many lives were saved (25:32-35).

Unrighteous anger can lead us into bad situations (James 1:20).  Our first instinct is usually to respond to anger with more anger.  This almost got the best of David.  Thankfully Abigail diffused the situation before David did something he would later regret.  When we face similar situations, do we respond like David or Abigail?  Let us pray that we develop a heart and temperament similar to Abigail.  “A hot-tempered” man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (Proverbs 15:18).

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