Bible Matters #10

IS GOD ANGRY EVERY DAY?

Presented by Gary Amirault

"God judgeth the righteous, and GOD is angry with the wicked every day." (Psalm 7:11, KJV)

“God is a righteous judge, and He is NOT angry at all times.” (Psalm 7:11, Young’s Literal Translation)

Sometimes it pays to really compare Bible translations. Few of us do. But if we did, we would discover there are major differences among leading translations. And the differences are sometimes very significant. One of the purposes of the “Bible Matters” email list is to point some of them out. Below is a portion of the book “Bible Threatenings Explained” by Dr. J.W. Hanson written in 1885.

Anger, as the word is ordinarily used, is not a noble emotion; it is altogether unworthy of God, and he is incapable of it. The wise man says (Ecc. vii:9): "Anger resteth in the bosom of fools." Then God cannot be "angry every day," all the time. What is the meaning of these words?

Dr. Adam Clarke, the well known scholar and commentator, has examined the text with equal learning and candor, and he gives us the result of his investigation in the statement that a mistranslation of the language puts a false meaning on the words. He gives these as authorities:

The Vulgate:--"God is a judge, righteous, strong and patient. Will he be angry every day?" The Septuagint:--"God is a righteous judge, strong and long-suffering; not bringing forth his anger every day." The Arabic is the same. The Genevan version, printed in 1615:--"God judgeth the righteous, and him that contemneth God, every day;" marginal note: "he doth continually call the wicked to repentance by some signs of his judgments."

Dr. Clarke says: "I have judged it of consequence to trace this verse through all the ancient versions in order to be able to ascertain what is the true reading, where the evidence on one side amounts to a positive affirmation, 'God is angry every day,' and, on the other side, to as positive a negation, 'He is not angry every day.' The mass of evidence supports the latter reading. The Chaldee first corrupted the text by making the addition, 'with the wicked,' which our translators have followed, though they have put the words into italics, as not being in the Hebrew text. Several of the versions have rendered it in this way: 'God judgeth the righteous, and is not angry every day." The true sense may be restored thus; el with the vowel tsere signifies God; el, the same letters with the point pathach, signifies not. Several of the versions have read in this way: 'God judgeth the righteous, and is not angry every day.' He is not always chiding, nor is he daily punishing, notwithstanding the daily wickedness of man; hence the ideas of patience and long-suffering which several of the versions introduce."

It will be seen that David expressly says that God is not angry every day, though those who quote the text as found in our version to prove God petulant, wrathful and passionate, do not seem to reflect that it is no proof of endless punishment, for the same author and others declare (Micah vii:18; Psa. ciii:8,9; xxx:5) that "He retaineth not his anger forever." So that, if he were--as he is not--angry every day, the time would come when his anger would no longer exist.

It will enable the reader to understand the meaning of anger, as ascribed to God in the Scriptures, if he will consider how the word is used in the Bible. There are two kinds of anger. One is right, and is exhibited by God, good angels and good men, and the other is wrong and is an animal characteristic, of which God is incapable. Abstract anger is a disposition to combat, destroy, and its legitimate use is to remove obstacles. Employed by the good it never harms, but used by the evil, its work is mischief and woe.

The first sort is referred to in the passage we are considering, and is exercised by God, who is said to "hate all the workers of iniquity." And how does he exhibit his anger? Not against the sinner, but against the sin. Men, smarting under the penalties of sin, seeing only the stroke, and not realizing the love that impels it, say with Saul that God hates them, but it is Infinite Love that wields the rod, and that inflicts every stroke because it loves the sinner, and will destroy that in him that alienates him from his best friend, and ruins his best interests.

David says; "Thou shalt make the wicked as a fiery oven in the time of thy anger, the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them."--Psa. xxi:9. The prophet declares: "The Lord reserveth wrath for his enemies."--Nahum i:2,3. Paul affirms; "The wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience." "The power and wrath of God is upon all them that forsake him."--Eph. v:6; Col. iii:6. Jesus says: "The wrath of God abideth on him that believeth not the Son."--John iii:36. He also says: "God is kind to the unthankful and evil."--Luke vi:35. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust."--Matt. v:48.

Now these are not contradictory statements. They are consistent with each other. What God is determined to destroy in the sinner is that which makes him a sinner, and he proceeds towards him as a good parent must, to eradicate it by punishment. An angry mother--a true mother--punishes her wayward boy, just as God punishes the wicked, because she loves him. The boy may call it anger, but it is that kind which will not harm a hair of his head. It is indeed the highest love; it is determined on the child's welfare, and so will not shrink from inflicting pain. But it is temporary. This is evident when we remember that men are told to be like God, and yet they must not let the sun go down upon their wrath. We must love our enemies that we may be children of the highest. If God were angry every day, and we were like him, we should be cross, petulant, wrathful, vindictive and hateful all the time. But we can only be like God as we "put off anger" (Col. iii:8) and "put away all wrath, anger and malice," (Eph. iv:31) inasmuch as "a fool's wrath is presently known," (Prov. xii:16) while "he that is slow to wrath is of great understanding." (Prov. xiv:29)

"God is not angry with the wicked every day," is the correct reading of this passage, and it must be true of him who is Love, and who is unchangeable, that he never was, never is, and never will be--for he never can be--angry with any human being in any other sense than that his righteous indignation burns towards those traits that cause his children to sin, and that it will continue to burn until it destroys those traits, and transforms his enemies into friends. "The man who destroyed his enemies" transformed them to friends. God's anger will destroy the enmity of his enemies. He will always be kind to the unthankful and evil. He "is not angry with the wicked every day." – endquote from BTE.

Many Bible translations (even some of the most well-known ones) mischaracterize the nature and character of our Creator. It pays to be diligent when it comes to Bible Study.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15, NASB)

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