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Anger Management - Bitterness in the life of Saul

anger management - bitterness of king saul

Drawing on his experiences growing up in North Belfast, and taking as his example the relationship between Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18:1-14, Bobby McKay explained the dangers of anger and bitterness in the life of a believer.

David was described as a man after God's own heart. He was chosen of God to replace Saul, a decision which Saul did not take well. Saul developed a real bitterness towards David, an anger which consumed him to the extent that he even attempted to kill him. Anger and bitterness are all around us, they are accepted in general society and among the unsaved, but these are attitudes which should not be present in the life of a Christian.


King Saul was the nation's chosen King, he had the favour of God upon him and the nation behind him. But what happened to him? In short, Saul departed from God.

Saul FORCED himself to do something that he shouldn't have done
In 1 Samuel 13:12, Saul was commanded to wait, yet decided to throw himself into an unknown situation. How often do we, as believers, push ourselves into places of temptation and situations which we are not equipped for, simply because we like to push ourselves forward. This was Saul's first step away from the Lord.

Saul FOUGHT for his own will, rather than the will of God
In 1 Samuel 15:9, Saul clearly disobeyed the command of God. Many Christians go their own way in life, choosing rather to satisfy their own desires than to seek direction from God's Word.

Saul FOCUSED on himself
In 1 Samuel 18:8, it is clear that Saul was agrieved that attention in the land had turned to young David. He was the King, he was the one they should have been shouting for, but the people were calling for David. Pride is no stranger to many believers, yet a true relationship with God has no room for pride.

Saul FORGAVE himself
In 1 Samuel 26:21, Saul knew he had sinned. Yet Saul did not turn to the Lord for forgiveness. It is an easy thing to forgive yourself, pat yourself on the back and carry on. But we must need to seek forgiveness from God, and ask for His strength to be holy.

Saul FORGOT his standards
When first he came into power, Saul removed all the witchcraft from out of the land, yet in 1 Samuel 28:7 he goes out looking for the Witch of Endor. Once we begin to take our salvation for granted, we become less and less particular. This is the time when our standards can slip and we find ourselves drifting away from God.

Saul FELL on himself
Rather than fall upon the mercy of God, and return to the guiding hand of his Heavenly Father, Saul spent the last moments of his life in hiding, before falling on his own sword in 1 Samuel 31:4 and taking his own life. How sad to find yourself so far God that the only remaining option is to end your life, yet it happens. We must learn from the mistakes of Saul, and never find ourselves in a position like that. Cling to the Lord, let Him be your guide, maintain the standards of Scripture and you will know His power in your life.


Anger is not found alone, but rather goes hand in hand with the influence of the devil. If we give space to the devil in our lives, he will cause us to fall. Of course there will be times when we get frustrated, circumstances which, as Christians, we cannot accept or pass over. But Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us 'be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil'. The Lord Jesus Christ, when on this earth, was angry with the blatant sin of men, yet never sinned himself. We must be sure that our anger does not take control of us, and cause bitterness and hatred to set in. Ephesians 4:31-32 'Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you'.


Saul discovered that there was a cost to his anger. It consumes us (Galatians 5:15). Saul could not think of anything else but David. It had taken over his life, he had lost the joy of the Lord. It corrupts us (Galatians 6:8). Bitterness and anger will affect our speech, our actions and our attitude. It will damage our testimony. It changes us (Hebrews 12:15). If we let anger fester and grow within us we will find it harder and harder to return to the Word of God and study it. It condemns (Luke 23:39). The thief on the cross, condemned already to death, was so full of bitterness that he missed the opportunity to turn to the Son of God for forgiveness in his dying moments. A believer will never be condemned to eternity in hell, our destination is secure, but in life we could miss out on such a blessing from God because we find ourselves pre-occupied with bitterness.


It is almost certain that we will face some sort of opposition in our lives. Perhaps we will be the victim of mockery, discrimination or hatred. We have little control over such things, but we can control how we respond to it, and as we believers we should be blameless in our response. The Lord Jesus Christ was beaten, bruised and afflicted. If anyone deserved to be bitter, to be angry and to bear a grudge it was the Lord, 'yet he opened not his mouth'. While hanging cruelly upon the cross He cried out for forgiveness to those who had oppressed Him.

Christ is our ultimate example. In comparison with the treatment He received, there is no justification for bitterness in our lives. It is a sin. But praise God, He died and rose again, so that His blood could cleanse us from all anger, all bitterness and all sin.

There is a cure for bitterness. If you not a Christian, you must first turn to the cross. Then, a child of God, we must confess our sin to Him, seeking His cleansing power in our lives. Finally, we must show the compassion of Christ to those around us, even those who stand against us.

He forgave us our sins, let us also forgive others.