Is it possible to stay angry forever? Two German families in a suburb of Munich installed a twelve-foot-high fence topped with barbed wire and security cameras to separate their properties. The feud, which lasted fourteen years, between the Bensch and the Kern families started because one family planted an elderberry bush too close to the other’s fence.
Holding on to anger can be destructive. Our passage begins with a message to the enemy of Israel and Judah. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise” (v. 8). The disobedience of God’s people had led to the triumph of their enemies. Yet, the prophet knew that God will not stay angry forever (v. 18). He would forgive them and restore them.
While the Israelites faced daunting troubles that were a result of their disobedience, the character of God meant that the future held promise. God would not stay angry with them forever: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (v. 18). Look at the active language applied to God’s removal of their sin. He would “tread” on it and “hurl” their iniquities to the depths of the sea (v. 19).
The Israelites would certainly face consequences for their disobedience. And for a time it would appear that their enemies would triumph. They would face tribulation and taunting at their hands. But God would vindicate His people. He would not let them be destroyed.
This is a picture of a God who is very much in control of the outcome. He would not remain angry with His people. He is all-powerful, and His victory is defined by His forgiveness, love, and faithfulness (v. 20).
Just as God does not stay angry forever, we are not to hold long-lasting anger toward one another. Perhaps you have someone whom you struggle to forgive. Bring that person before God in your prayers. Ask God to intervene in the situation and to restore peace. God answers prayers and can work in even the most impossible circumstances.