Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 19:19
"A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again"
The opening of this sentence reads in the Hebrew gadol chemah, which means great anger or rage. The focus of this proverb is the anger, fury, or rage. The person who uses it is assumed. The great anger is the focus because of what it will do. Anger is a reaction to expectations not being met. When we build expectations of what should happen or should not happen in our mind and then those expectations are not met, anger is a common reaction. It would seem that anger is a part of motivation to act and to fix what can be corrected on our end. But many have used anger as a bullying tactic to get what they want. They do not use anger as motivation to fix their side. They allow anger to build beyond a little internal fire to a wild, uncontrollable fire that bullies others into action to appease, change, correct, and act. It is this kind of bullying anger that is being talked about here in this proverb. Anger as an internal motivational tool to move you to action, change, correction, or development can be a good thing. But some have discovered the power of anger, and they let the fire out and use it to control people.
This is the Hebrew word onesh, which means penalty, fine. The idea is that there is a price to be paid for getting what you want through anger. That penalty is not named because it takes many forms. It may take an emotional form, a spiritual form, a psychological form, a physical form, or all of the above.
Notice that in this verse Solomon talks about rescuing a person from the penalty of their anger. The idea of rescuing is another form of responding to a person's anger by your acting instead of their acting. The word rescuein the Hebrew is the word natsalwhich means to deliver, snatch away, rescue. The people who regularly use anger to get their own way must feel the blow back from their anger, or they will continue to use it on other people.
Solomon is trying to continue our lesson in types of people and how to handle the various types of people wisely. His lesson today is about the angry person: the bully. He gives us great insight into this kind of person. They are used to having others adjust to them; others rescue them. They are used to getting what they want. But if you are wise, you will stand back and let the natural consequences of their intimidation, anger, and bullying land on them full force. This type of person will try and drag you into the mix. Resist rescuing them. They must learn that controlling others through anger is not an acceptable lesson. Anger can be used as an internal motivational tool but not a consistent external prod for others.
If young children are allowed to get their way because they got angry or might get angry or might get angry again, then you are violating this verse and creating a lifetime of pain for these children and those around them. Children and adults must be told “no.” They don't always get what they want. Creating a bully is easy; let them get their way through anger. Anger then becomes the magic wand through which they get their way. They will have learned how to change circumstances, change people, and demand that their selfish demands be met. They have the weapon of anger. They will, most likely, use this weapon for selfish purposes and not righteous purposes.
Solomon is saying: Don't become an angry person's latest slave. If you are acting out of fear of what someone will do to you, you are rescuing an angry person. If you are intimidated into doing something that is not righteous, then you are rescuing an angry person. If you think of things to do so that so-and-so won't be angry, then you are violating this verse and the angry person won't learn.
At some time or another, angry people will bear the penalty of their anger. Notice that Solomon says: You will only have to do it again. If the angry person can get you doing their bidding through the weapon of anger, then they will keep using it until it no longer works. That is why Solomon says to step out of the line of fire of their anger. Stop being motivated to act, appease, change, and grovel because of their anger. Stop rescuing them from the troubles they are in and stop doing the bidding of their selfish demands.
This verse is also about how when the angry person finally is about to be clipped because someone is strong enough, do not keep them from feeling the sting of real authority and real justice. Let them feel it. They have to internalize that they cannot allow their anger to go to the lengths that it has gone in the past. The sooner that a young person learns this lesson, the better.