What Does the Bible Say about Holding a Grudge?
There are several examples of grudges being held in the Bible, as well as God’s words on what to do when we are in the midst of a grudge.
Perhaps one of the most recognized grudges in the Bible would be Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis. Joseph, the youngest and favorite of his father Jacob’s children, boasted about dreams where his older brothers would bow down to him in worship. As brothers tend to be, they didn’t like Joseph’s behavior and held a dangerous grudge that led to them selling him off to a caravan of Ishmaelites.
But their story is one of forgiveness, as Joseph, now an adult and member of Pharaoh’s appointed leaders, forgave his brothers for their actions and reunited with not only them but the father who thought he was dead. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).
King David speaks of grudges in the book of Psalms, particularly in verse 55:3, saying, “Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in wrath they hate me.” He might be recalling a very personal grudge held against him by King Saul. We read about this in 1 Samuel 18:7-9, when David’s achievements were held over Saul’s own, and the man King Saul considered almost a son was now an enemy.
It is apparent that King David and Joseph found the hateful grudges against them disconcerting and unwarranted, much to what many feel toward grudges, especially when they don’t know what the grudge is even about. But both men are examples of choosing forgiveness and the higher road, especially when the ones who held grudges against them were humbled in different ways.
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