Emotions: Control the Channel!

“David arose and went with all the people… to bring up the ark of God… Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart,.. and Ahio went before the ark.

“David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah… And David was afraid of the Lord that day…

“David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing… David danced before the Lord with all his might… with shouting and the sound of the horn.

“As the ark of the Lord came into the city, Michal [his wife] the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. They brought in the ark and set it in its place… David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord… and blessed the people in the name of the Lord…

“David returned to bless his household. But Michal came out to meet David and said, ‘How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!’ And David said to Michal,.. ‘I will celebrate before the Lord.'” 2 Samuel 6:6:2a,3,5-9a,12b,14-18,20-21

The emotions in this account are potent- thick and varied, measured and impulsive, hot and cold. David swings from glee to anger to fear to calm back to joy and then stern resolve. His wife Michal stews in disgust and loathing (from jealousy?) that manifest in fiery sarcasm and vitriol. Only God is not capricious or reactionary, but steady and calmly benevolent. His anger is righteous and controlled, His holiness upheld.

Emotions are a magnificent and many-faceted gift from God, enabling us to experience life with pathos, intensity, and meaning. They enrich our relationships and interactions with the world and with our Savior. But they can also wreak havoc with our psyche, disrupt reason, pollute vision, ignite suspicion, threaten friendships, ingrain grudges, and instantaneously ruin the best of situations.

In a day when feelings often trump reason, allowing our emotions free rein is a dangerous habit. Aligning them with the Holy Spirit and tethering them to solid truth- about ourselves, others, and our circumstances- will keep them in check and channeled in the right direction. They should not drive our behavior, but enhance it, not unsettle our security, but affirm it.

When God rules our emotions, He touches the deepest initial heart reactions and attitudes, as well as our verbal and non-verbal expressions. What pride and self-asserted rights trigger our feeling ‘put upon,’ and spouting off in irritability, frustration, or rage? Where are we allowing godless jealousy, impatience, insolence, or snarkiness to divide relationships? What personal swings of emotion need the Lord’s overriding control and calm?

Father, please dictate, steady, and channel my emotions in Your perfect, righteous character. May their expression magnify Your beauty and holiness. (Psalm 19:13-14; 55:1-3)

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