Making Sense of God's Anger

Slow to Anger

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

Making Sense of God's Anger

Key Bible Verse: The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. (Psalm 145:8)

Dig Deeper: Psalm 145

Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh is repeatedly described as “slow to anger” (literally, “long-nosed”). This description of Yahweh is found across the diverse genres of the Old Testament. It appears in historical contexts (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17), prophetic contexts (Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3), and poetic contexts (Pss. 86:15, 103:8, 145:8).

Slowness to anger is so much a part of Yahweh’s character [that] he includes it in his name. When Yahweh reveals himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, the text says Yahweh proclaimed his name to Moses, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6, ESV). Yahweh is God’s first name in the Old Testament, but his full name speaks of his graciousness, patience, and slowness to anger.

The Sinai covenant was like the wedding between Yahweh and Israel, in which they committed to be a faithful to each other (Ex. 19:5-6, 24:3-8). But on the honeymoon the Israelites [cheated on God]. That seems like a legitimate cause for anger. So Yahweh’s anger burned hot against his people, and he told Moses they would be destroyed (Ex. 32:10). Fortunately, Moses convinced Yahweh to change his mind (Ex. 32:11-14).

– David T. Lamb in God Behaving Badly


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