On the Greatness of God's Anger
Psalm 90:11
Who knows the power of your anger? even according to your fear, so is your wrath.

First see how anger can be ascribed to God: for an infinite and Divine nature cannot be degraded to those affections and weaknesses that attend ours. Anger is a passion, but God is impassible. Anger is always with some change in the person that has it, but God is unchangeable. Certainly, therefore, anger and the like affections can by no means be ascribed to the infinitely perfect God, in the proper and usual acceptation of the words, but only by an anthropopathy. God is said to be angry, when He does some things that bear a similitude to those effects that anger produces in men.


1. Every harsh and severe dispensation is not an effect of God's anger. The same effect, as to the matter of it, may proceed from very different causes. Love is sometimes put upon the rigour of those courses, which at the first aspect seem to carry in them the inscriptions of hostility.

2. There is a great difference between God's anger and His hatred; as great as there is between the transient expiring heat of a spark, and the lasting continual fires which supply a furnace. God was angry with Moses, David, Hezekiah, and with His peculiar people; but we do not read that He hated them. The effects of His anger differ as much from the effects of His hatred, as the smart of a present pain from the corrosions of an abiding poison.


1. It inflicts immediate blows and rebukes upon the conscience. When God wounds a man by the loss of an estate, of His health, of a relation, the smart is but commensurate to the thing which is lost, poor and finite. But when He Himself employs His whole omnipotence, and is both the archer, and Himself the arrow, there is as much difference between this and the former, as when a house lets fall a cobweb, and when it falls itself upon a man.

2. God's anger exerts itself by embittering of afflictions. Every affliction is of itself a grievance, and a breach made upon our happiness; but there is sometimes a secret energy, that so edges and quickens its afflictive operation, that a blow levelled at the body, shall enter into the very soul. As a bare arrow tears and rends the flesh before it, but if dipped in poison, as by its edge it pierces, so by its adherent venom it festers.

3. It shows and exerts itself by cursing of enjoyments. We may, like Solomon, have all that wit can invent, or heart desire, and yet at last, with the same Solomon, sum up all our accounts in "vanity and vexation of spirit." Alas! it is not the body and the mass of those things which we call plenty that can speak comfort, when the wrath of God shall blast and dispirit them with a curse. We may build our nest soft and convenient, but that can easily place a thorn in the midst of it, that shall check us in our repose.


1. It is fully commensurate to the very utmost of our fears, which is noted even in the words of the text: "According to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath."

2. It not only equals, but infinitely exceeds and transcends our fears. The misery of the wicked, and the happiness of the saints, run in an equal parallel; so that by one you may best measure the proportions of the other. And for the former of these, we have a lively description of it in 1 Corinthians 2:9.

3. Though we may attempt it in our thoughts, yet we cannot bring it within the comprehensions of our knowledge. And the reason is, because things which are the proper objects of feeling, are never perfectly known, but by being felt.

4. We may take a measure of the greatness of God's anger by comparing it with the anger of men. How dreadful is the wrath of a king! (Proverbs 19:12). But what can be said of the terrors of an almighty wrath, an infinite indignation?


1. The intolerable misery of such as labour under a lively sense of God's wrath for sin.

2. The ineffable vastness of Christ's love to mankind in His sufferings for them.

3. Terror to such as can be quiet and at peace within themselves, after the commission of great sins.

4. The most natural sequel and improvement of all that has been said of God's anger, is a warning against that cursed thing which provokes it. We see how dreadfully it burns; let us beware of the sin by which it is kindled.

(R. South, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

WEB: Who knows the power of your anger, your wrath according to the fear that is due to you?

Man' S Underestimate of God's Anger
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