When Bitterness Seeks to Sour Life

Over the years I have encountered many people who are bitter about life and the things that happened to them. Their demeanor is so sour and angry about the past that it affects their outlook on the present. At times this attitude can cause them to lash out at people.

I thought of this attitude of bitterness when I read 1 Samuel 30. David has allied with the Philistines after fleeing from Saul. After they join the Philistines to fight Israel, they are sent back to their homes in Ziklag only to find their town has been pillaged. David’s men are angry with him when they find “it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive (verse 4, NIV).”

The response to this horrible event reveals the character of David and some of his men. In verse 6 we read that David “was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him.” Not only was David upset that his wives had been taken, but now he faced the anger of his men who blamed him.

The second half of verse 6 is instructive for us in how we choose to respond to horrible things that happen to us in life: “each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord.” Because David focused on the Lord instead of the men who were bitter in spirit, he was able to seek the Lord’s guidance and rescue their wives and children as well as everything the raiding party had taken from them.

Bitterness about horrible things that happen to us can taint our attitude about so many things in life. When we are bitter in spirit as David’s men were, it can cause us to be angry with people and lash out at them for even minor injustices. David’s ability to find strength in the Lord, even in the midst of his own loss, enabled him to seek the Lord for wisdom on how to respond to their tragedy (verse 7-8). He follows God’s wisdom and rescues their families.

Bitterness of spirit can be destructive to us and those around us. It can sow seeds of mistrust, revenge and division. Read 1 Samuel chapter 30 and compare David’s response to his bitter and grumbling men. Seek the Lord’s wisdom in your response to bad things that happen in your life.

#Retrospective: This post first published January 8, 2019.

© 2019 CGThelen

12 thoughts on “When Bitterness Seeks to Sour Life

  1. This is such a good word, brother. Finding strength in the Lord is always the best answer, but often not my first choice—due to the fog of circumstances. Thank you for the reminder. God Bless!

  2. God has convicted me as well to let go, to forgive. As you mentioned, It is difficult to not nurse grievances. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Praying God’s grace will fill you, that you will feel the peace of Christ as you let go of the things of the past.

  3. Thank you. Am having lots of reminders recently that letting go of difficult things in the past (and the ‘comfort’ I get from nursing grieviances) is the only option.

  4. Wow – excellent insight! We all know that bitterness is not good, but it is so easy to fall into. God gives us character sketches like this so we can learn. And He gives us writers like you to rightly divide and spread the Word. Thank you.

  5. I agree with the wonderful Faith that David had in the Lord. I also agree with you to seek the Lords wisdom in response to bad things that happen in your life. It is a testament to his love for God that even during times of stress and despair he was able to turn to the Lord.

    That said, my own story of adversity and I think for many, is a slow erosion of Faith which happens over time that hinders one’s ability to connect with the Lord. This process is insidious and by the time it happens, it is often leaves a person, ( as it did with me) spiritually bankrupt.

    However, I believe that Faith can be restored. Praise Jesus! People like yourself whose blog I have followed even while I was still in the midst of sin, became a beacon of light.

    Thank you great post.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I praise God that he was able to use this blog to help you. I continue to be amazed by God’s grace. My prayer is that you continue to grow in your faith in Jesus.

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