Righteous Indignation

“Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake your law.” Psalm 119.53

The concept of righteous anger is difficult for many to even fathom, even more difficult to master. As we’re working through this masterful psalm verse by verse, the current verse can seem out of place. It’s particularly striking in this stanza that speaks about the comfort that God’s Word brings.

Still, righteous indignation is honoring to the Lord. Here, sandwiched between extolling the comfort found in God’s Word (52) and singing the praise of God’s statutes (54), the poet writes of his hot indignation. Now, keep in mind that he has already spoken of the wicked deriding him a few verses earlier (51). He also devoted an entire stanza to the usefulness of the Word for the sojourner wandering in this fallen world (a theme that will resurface throughout the psalm). That’s part of what makes this verse such a helpful example of righteous anger.

Notice, the psalmist is not angry for his own sake. He does not say that his hot indignation boils against the wicked because they have scorned, mocked, derided him. Rather, he is angry because they have forsaken God’s law. He is not angry because of personal insult, but because they have rejected God. That’s the difference between sinful anger and righteous indignation.

So, what do you get angry about? When the world’s evil shows, are you angry because it’s inconvenient for you, or because it is an affront against a righteous God? Does sin—especially your own—cause indignation because it offends you, or because it forsakes God’s law?

Heavenly Father, your Word is truth. Your commands are righteous altogether. May we cling to them, love them, and obey them. And may our indignation burn against the rejection of your truth. Amen.

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