The Prayer Book version of Psalm 37:8 brought an extraordinary flash of insight recently. ‘Let go displeasure’. Since this verse is normally translated to highlight the need to ‘refrain from anger’, I was startled by the word ‘displeasure’. I had never equated my displeasure with anger before, and suddenly I was seriously challenged! I quite often find myself ‘displeased’ by this and that – “Let it go!” advises David. We can use all kinds of words to describe our anger, can’t we? Indignant, exasperated, upset, annoyed, offended, as well as those that clearly describe it. Displeasure seems such a mild form in comparison, and yet the fact that we are encouraged to let even that go, could be a stimulating benchmark for our lives.
Displeasure is not always anger, of course. There are times when things happen which are painful – and there is no pleasure in pain. So, we experience displeasure in the form of sadness or depression; let it go! Then there is the ‘displeasure’ associated with difficult, painfilled, or oppressive memories; let go displeasure! Don’t hold onto it, let it slip away, out of mind. Easier said than done? Oh, yes, certainly! When we are hurt the scars and pain can last for years. If we have prayed about [and if necessary, received prayer for] the difficulties of painful memories, then we must begin to train our minds to turn towards something that does give us pleasure when the ‘displeasure’ arises. We must learn to fasten our thoughts on the good, the beautiful, the positive [Philippians 4:8]. Let go displeasure! Yahweh, who is so gracious and understanding, will help us; strengthening us in our attempts and reinforcing us with His own peace. [compare v11]
King David wrote this beautiful psalm in his later years [see 37:25], so we can be certain that he was drawing on vast reserves of personal experience and speaking from the depths of a heart acquainted with anger, bitterness, disappointment and pain. And his mind, too, was familiar with the power of hurtful memories. “Commit everything you do to [Yahweh]” he writes. “Trust him, and he will help you.” [Psalm 37:5, New Living Translation]!
Photo by geralt