A Song of Anger


Message Title: A Song of Anger
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 37:1-9 & 137
Scripture Reading: Luke 17:5-10
RCL Scripture: Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137; Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 ; Psalm 37:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
Focus: The Psalms reflect anger and jealousy towards Israel’s enemies.
To know God can handle our emotions but to not let our emotions lose our footing in Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 17:5-10 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Come! Sit down for dinner’? Wouldn’t you say instead, ‘Fix my dinner. Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you can eat and drink’? You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you? 10 In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, ‘We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.’”

SERIES INTRO:  Emotions are part of our humanity. Our very lives are filled with daily emotions. When we are uncertain about expressing our emotions, we turn to artists: the song writers, the poets, and even the psalmists. They help us to process our feelings and make sense of this world. During the month of October, we will look at 2 Psalms each Sunday and investigate their stories and the human emotions behind the text. I invite you to feel your feelings with me.  As we prepare for All Saints Day.

INTRO: Tis October. For many this is the season of spooky things. I saw an idea that would definitely scare me in a haunted house. MEME: A haunted house but the ghosts recite the poems you wrote when you were sixteen.

YIKES! Yes, I was one of those teens.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Who wrote poetry as a teen?

Not every young author created terrible poetry. Emily Dickinson’s skills were well before her time and fortunately not anything like the poems of 16-year-old Meriah.

I’d like to read one of her poems for you:


Mine enemy is growing old,—

I have at last revenge.

The palate of the hate departs;

 If any would avenge, —

Let him be quick, the viand flits,

It is a faded meat.

Anger as soon as fed is dead;

‘T is starving makes it fat.

-Emily Dickinson

TRANSITION: Dickinson uses the everyday imagery of hunger to portray the emotion of Anger. As we dive into our text today, we will look at two separate psalms that touch on anger. We won’t be knit picking each individual detail of these psalms.

Ponder your own anger through their shoes.


PSALM 37 Don’t get upset over evildoers;
    don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
    because they will fade fast, like grass;
    they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
    live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
    and he will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord!
    Trust him! He will act
    and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
    and wait[b] for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
    someone who invents evil schemes.

Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
    Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
Because evildoers will be eliminated,
    but those who hope in the Lord—
    they will possess the land.

  1. AUTHOR:  David
  2. CONTEXT: details are uncertain aside from the psalm being an acrostic
  3. This portion of Psalm 37 seems naively sweet.
    1. Let go of your anger and rage.
    1. Don’t be upset when someone evil succeeds
    1. Trust God & Do Good.

Well doesn’t that sound easy? JUST DO GOOD!

Then we get to the raw emotions of Psalm 137



Alongside Babylon’s streams,
    there we sat down,
    crying because we remembered Zion.
We hung our lyres up
    in the trees there
    because that’s where our captors asked us to sing;
    our tormentors requested songs of joy:
    “Sing us a song about Zion!” they said.
But how could we possibly sing
    the Lord’s song on foreign soil?

Jerusalem! If I forget you,
    let my strong hand wither!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
    if I don’t remember you,
    if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.

Lord, remember what the Edomites did
        on Jerusalem’s dark day:
    “Rip it down, rip it down!
    All the way to its foundations!” they yelled.
Daughter Babylon, you destroyer,[a]
    a blessing on the one who pays you back
    the very deed you did to us!
    A blessing on the one who seizes your children
    and smashes them against the rock!

  1. AUTHOR: ? Maybe Jeremiah?
    1. “After Nebuchadnezzar II‘s successful siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC, and subsequent campaigns, inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were deported to Babylonia, where they were held captive until some time after the Fall of Babylon (539 BC). The rivers of Babylon are the Euphrates river, its tributaries, and the Tigris river.
    1. Psalm 137 is a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people during their Babylonian exile. In its whole form of nine verses, the psalm reflects the yearning for Jerusalem as well as hatred for the Holy City’s enemies with sometimes violent imagery.
    1. Rabbinical sources attributed the poem to the prophet Jeremiah,[3] and the Septuagint version of the psalm bears the superscription: “For David. By Jeremias, in the Captivity.”[4]” (wiki)
  3. Psalm 137 feels like real human emotions.
    1. It honestly reminds me of 9/11.
      1. Toby Keith “we’ll shove a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”
      1. Darryl Worley “Have you forgotten?”
    1. But I also think about the sad things that grew out of our unchecked rage after 9/11
      1. Islamophobia & racial profiling through TSA etc
      1. American arrogance
  4. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: 137: 7-9 Is this the psalmist or God wishing destruction on Babylon and their children?
    1. Israel was sent into exile as a consequence for their actions (and lack of action). It was their disobedience but Babylon was the vessel.
  5. Emily Dickinson says to feed your anger and it will subside but I think the direct opposite is true.
    1. De-escalation is important and the hardest role in an argument is choosing not to escalate.
    1. When someone perfects that skill, teach me!


  1. The beautiful thing we can learn through both of these Psalms: God can handle our rage.
    1. BUT We are proactive not reactive
    1. Our actions are not determined by wicked people
    1. AND When we are so determined to be right that we cease to show love, we are no longer right.

CONCLUSION: Sometimes anger is called for- we cry for justice when the vulnerable are exploited. BUT our anger must be rooted in God’s truth and goodness NOT in our own agenda.

COMMUNION: WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY- Today is world communion Sunday. It is a day that reminds us that God’s plans don’t JUST include us. John 3:16 For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have ever lasting life.

God’s got the whole world in his hands. Today as you hold the cup and the bread, you hold the hands of our siblings around the world and recognize how big our family truly is.

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