He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
Are you hot tempered? Quick to get angry? These are marks of a fool! Get your spirit under control and keep it ruled, or you will hamper or destroy your life. Great wisdom includes self-control to rule your spirit. If you cannot control your anger, you will say and do many foolish things. Solomon’s advice is to slow down and only get angry slowly.
Anger is not always wrong. God is angry at the wicked every day (Ps 7:11). The LORD was angry at Moses (Deut 1:37; 4:21), Solomon (I Kgs 11:9), and Israel (II Kgs 17:18). You should show an angry face against those backbiting others (25:23). But God is slow to anger, which gives you your holy example and pattern (Ps 103:8; 145:8)!
Paul taught the Ephesian saints to get angry without sinning, and to get rid of anger before nightfall (Eph 4:26). Anger held longer will turn to bitterness, and it also gives an opening in your life to the devil himself (Eph 4:27). Jesus condemned anger “without a cause” as comparable to murder (Matt 5:21-22). But this effeminate generation has removed these three words in modern Bible versions in order to condemn all anger.
Moses was angry at Israel for worshipping a golden calf with a rock concert and nude dancing (Ex 32:19-29). His righteous indignation led to punishing the rebels severely for the salvation of the nation. The Lord Jesus Christ became angry against a crowd that did not want Him to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:1-5). Anger against sin is good, and when directed by godliness can be an asset (Ne 13:23-28).
But anger is rarely a helpful emotion. It usually causes overreaction, misreading circumstances, misjudging motives, actions without proper thinking, responding more severely than needed, speaking with excessive harshness, neglecting counsel, and getting priorities out of line. Therefore, a wise man will be very slow in letting anger develop.
Wisdom is the power of right judgment; understanding is correct comprehension. Both are compromised in proportion to the speed and intensity of anger. The faster you get angry, the less wisdom you have under the influence of that anger. The greater the intensity of your anger, the less understanding you have under its passionate heat. Anger causes unnecessary fights and many sins (21:24; 26:21; 29:22; 30:33).
Quick anger is a common sin. Solomon warned against it often (14:17; 15:18; 16:32; 25:8,28; Eccl 7:8-9). James wrote that anger was not compatible with pleasing God, so it should be done very slowly (Jas 1:19-20). Paul told Titus to ordain men to the ministry who were slow to anger (Titus 1:7). A wise man will defer anger until later and be happy and noble to pass over personal offences against him (19:11; Matt 5:38-42).
Ruling your spirit is basic to wisdom and success (16:32). Anger begins in the heart, which must be kept with all diligence (4:23). Graciousness, longsuffering, and patience are a few names for the virtue of rejecting quick anger. And you must avoid angry men, for they will create a temptation for you to be like them (14:7; 22:24; I Cor 15:33). For you to prosper in the sight of God and men, you need to hate sinful anger and avoid it.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect Man – the fullness of God in a human body (Col 2:9). Even His enemies could not provoke Him to anger, though they tried desperately to do so, for He chose to be as a lamb at shearing time (Luke 11:53-54; 23:10; Isaiah 53:7; I Pet 2:23). But a day is coming when He will tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God and come to judge the world in fury (II Thess 1:7-10; Rev 19:15).