1 I said, ‘I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.’
2 So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
3 my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
4 ‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.
6 ‘Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
7 ‘But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
8 Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth –
surely everyone is but a breath.
12 ‘Hear my prayer, Lord,
listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
before I depart and am no more.’
I don’t know if you identify with the first few of verses in this psalm. I know I do! It’s that feeling when you know that if you say anything, it’s likely to be destructive and angry and it doesn’t seem to be very Christian, so we bury it. And all it does is create a raging furnace inside of us – it makes our heart hot, as David put it. And not in a good way. The psalm seems to suggest that our anguish simply grows. Of course there are times when it’s good and proper not to express the full extent of our feelings but if we bury them, we are very likely to make a big mess when they do emerge! The Bible doesn’t say that it’s wrong to get angry but that we should guard ourselves from sinning in that anger (Eph. 4:26). We need to find safe places and people to share the full range of our emotions with, so that we can fully process what we are feeling and come out the other side.
Questions for thought and discussion
What makes you angry? How do you process that anger?
How can we help young people to explore their emotions in a helpful way?