Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992




God is capable of many emotions. We want to examine some of these in this section. We will apply this section as we go through the different aspects of God's emotion.

Pity: What is pity? Funk and Wagnall mention, "Grief or pain awakened by the misfortunes of others.... That which arouses compassion...." ("FUNK AND WAGNALL'S STANDARD DESK DICTIONARY"; New York: Funk and Wagnall Inc., 1976)

At times my wife and I see people stranded on the freeway with car trouble, and pity is immediately on the scene. This is probably due to the times when we have been in a hurry to get somewhere and we have had trouble. For example the time we were planning to visit my father in the hospital in Omaha and we lived in Denver. We found out late Friday that I had to work Saturday so that meant driving to Omaha Saturday evening and then back to Denver Sunday, then to school early Monday morning. At about two o'clock Sunday morning the fuel pump went out about 15 miles from nowhere. We completed the trip yet, this is why I hurt for troubled motorists, and is part of the reason that I stop if things look safe.

Ps. 103:13 should be of great comfort when we are hurting or in hard times! "As a father piteth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him."

As a parent we often feel pity for our children. Once one of the boys had a great need once and there was no way that I could meet that need as a parent nor could he meet it himself. I felt very badly for the situation, but you know what? God had perfect pity for that son as well as for me, for He knows perfectly how we feel and he feels with us.

Wrath: What does wrath mean? Funk and Wagnall mentions, "Extreme or violent rage or fury; vehement indignation."

I suspect that the later thought of "vehement indignation" would be most fitting where God is concerned. However the first thought of rage and fury may well relate to the Lord Jesus when He was cleansing the temple of the trash.

Rom. 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness."

You can rest in the fact that God will most assuredly take care of any wrongs that have been done to you! Not only will God take care of it, He will take care of it completely and justly.

Compassion: What is Compassion? Funk and Wagnall tells us, "Pity for the suffering or distress of another, with the desire to help or spare."

When working in mid-Nebraska, a young woman came into the store and she was a shambles emotionally. She didn't come into the store for a purchase, but to just unload on anyone that she could find that would listen. When she left, I was off center for an hour or two, trying to figure out how I could help her. The desire to help was from the compassion I had for her troubles.

Ps. 145:8, "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy." Think of that one! FULL of compassion. If you need any, He has it. He, the infinite in size is full, FULL, INFINITELY FULL of compassion!

Webster mentions that compassion means to sympathize or bear or suffer. Wow, when that hard time hits not only do we have all the pity that we need, but we have all the co-suffering that we need. God is there to bear with us when we have burdens to bear.

It has crossed my mind to wonder just how much God suffers as He works with His children. As a parent, there are times when I see one of the kids doing something that I know is going to cost them dearly, either in money or in emotion. I want to, at times, shield them from those costs, yet know as a parent that they need to go through those times for growth.

God must see us walking into some real problems and hurt knowing that His children are hurting.

Hate: Funk and Wagnall relates to us, "To regard with extreme aversion; detest." My wife will be the first to tell you that she "HATES" bugs. Bugs of any type, size, color or harmlessness! One day we were driving around in the van in Scottsbluff, Nebraska when a grasshopper blew in through the vent and she panicked. We stopped and could not find the critter.

About fifteen minutes later she noticed the thing on her leg. Remembering my concern over her outwardness of her hate which resulted in a scream, which resulted in a panic stop because I thought something was about to hit us, she calmly but emphatically stated, there he is. I panic stopped again, thinking a kid was about to dart out from behind a car. She hates bugs.

Ps. 5:5, "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity." I must say that I am very glad that I am saved and standing in the shadow of the Lord Jesus. God has a pure hate but it is also a complete and just hate. I am so thankful that I do not have to face that hate!

Jealousy: Funk and Wagnall has several definitions, but this one seems to fit the idea of God's jealousy best. "Vigilant in guarding: to be jealous of a privilege." Or in God's case, of His people.

Deut. 5:9, The Lord told the Jews not to bow down to idols for He was a jealous God. This jealousy is elsewhere likened to that of a husband for his wife. The husband jealously cares for and keeps her from all things.

The media seems to play on the jealousy of the husband for his wife and seeks quite often to poke fun at it. This jealousy is not necessarily bad. It is the total desire for his wife to be what she should be to him, and I might add that the wife should have the same type of jealousy for her husband.

The jealousy portrayed in movies of the mistrust and doubt is very negative and should not be in a marriage.

God has sought out a people for Himself and He is jealous of any attempt to take them away from Him.

Grief: What is grief? Funk and Wagnall, "Deep sorrow or mental distress caused by loss, remorse, affliction, etc."

Judges 10:16, "And they put away the foreign gods from among them, and served the Lord; and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." God grieved or hurt for the children of Israel. He is a God that hurts when we hurt. Indeed, He probably hurts for us when we don't have sense enough to hurt ourselves. In the case of sin we are at times suffering before we realize it and He is already grieving for us.

Rejoicing: Isa. 62:5, mentions that the Lord rejoices over us as a bridegroom over his bride. That's rejoicing! RIGHT YOU MARRIED PEOPLE? The only difference is that His rejoicing is perfect and complete whereas we often, as men, rejoice over the outward.

I have to wonder how God feels when one of His creatures comes to know Him as Lord and Savior.

Laughing: Ps. 2:4, "He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision." The context is that God laughs at the attempts of men to cause God trouble. I can't imagine even thinking that there is any trouble that we might give to an all powerful God.

I suspect that He may laugh at some of the antics that believers try to pull on Him as well.

Sympathy: Funk and Wagnall, "The quality of being affected by the state of another with feelings correspondent in kind." Isa. 63:9, "In all their affliction he was afflicted," When the world is against us and we feel like the card I gave my wife once that said, "It's you and me against the world and personally I think we're gonna get creamed!", God is on our side and pushing back at the world with us. He is with us in all things as we walk with Him.

One is left to contemplate the feelings of God at the time when man led His Son to calvary, and then killed Him on the cross. One is left to contemplate the feelings of God as He viewed the martyrdom of His saints over the centuries.

What are the meanings of the previous terms when they are used of God? The definition would be the same as with man, except that there would be no taint of sin involved in God's. These attributes would be fully functional, and resident within God from eternity past, in a complete and pure form.


It may be difficult to truly define the idea of God being spirit. Let us look at some thoughts.

Pardington mentions, "There is no evidence that spirit fills any part of space, or that the Infinite Spirit is dependant on space." (Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.; "OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE"; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 84)

Bancroft mentions that "God is not only Spirit, but He is pure Spirit. He is not only not matter, but He has no necessary connection with matter." (Taken from the book, CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY by Emery H. Bancroft. Second revised edition Copyright 1976 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 71)

The Old Testament statements contain no direct statement, but always assumes the fact. Spirit in the Old Testament may be referring to the entire trinity.

Let us look at some references to see what we can learn.

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Does this maybe relate to the Old Testament texts that speak of rent hearts not rent clothes (Joel 2:12,13)? I'd say so - inward worship not outward. Idolatry is outward. He wants inward change, not outward change. This also relates to worship in our day. He wants worship within, not outward manifestations or antics of the body.

What did Christ mean when He said God is a Spirit? It describes His being and existence however it is not something that we can examine. We can experience the work of the Spirit, yet not the Spirit itself. He can be experienced only in the heart.

Acts 19:21 Paul desired to go to Jerusalem. He "purposed in the spirit". There seems to be a commitment to the Spirits leading in this desire to go to Jerusalem from later information. He was experiencing something that was leading him toward Jerusalem. (Acts 21)

Matt. 10:20, "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaketh in you." Christ was telling them that they would experience the Lord speaking through them.

Luke 1:47, "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." This was Mary the mother of the Lord speaking. She had experienced the Lord. Something within her had touched the Lord. She had been changed because of Him. The spirit is our contact with God. We can mentally and emotionally think of and experience God, but the spirit is our actual consciousness of the creator.

Rom. 15:30, "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me:" Love of the Spirit, striving in prayer, and praying together - all part of experiencing the Lord even though we do not see Him.

Rom. 8:26,27 tells us that the Spirit makes intervention when we do not know how to pray. There have been times when things were coming down around me so fast that I would just sit down and tell the Lord I didn't have any idea how to pray and that I was trusting that the Spirit would intercede for me. If I can have God praying for me I think that I can trust Him to do a really good job of praying for me.

Phil. 2:1 The Spirit of God can have fellowship with the believer. We can indeed experience the Lord.

Jo. 4:24, "God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." We may worship God!

Spirit is the name given to that which is the metaphysical center of a being whether it is God or man. Metaphysical means something that can't be perceived by the senses. Thus spirit is the name given to that which we cannot perceive by touch, sight, hearing or smell, which is the center of a being.

This is the God that we serve. He is a being that has no mass, has no visibility, has no content, thought He is everything there is in the way of worship. He is a complete being that we cannot examine. Maybe that is why salvation is by faith, why we should walk by faith, why we must have faith in Him.

Lu. 24:39, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." Christ drew attention to the fact that He was a physical being in this text, while elsewhere He draws attention to the fact that He is God as well.

If no one has ever seen a spirit how do we know they exist? We can experience the effects within us. We can't see electricity, but we see the effect and can also feel the effect.

Jo. 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound of it, but canst not tell from where it cometh, and where it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Since God is spirit and spirits can't be seen then we need to deal with those times in the Scripture where men have seen God.

Ex. 24:10,11 mentions that some saw God. Isa. 6:1-5 Isaiah saw the throne of the Lord. Lu. 3:22 mentions the Spirit as a dove. Dan. 7:9 tells us that Daniel saw the Ancient of Days. Acts 7:56 Stephen saw Christ on the right hand of the throne.

God doesn't have a form that is visible. He does take on forms at times for purposes of His own. These appearances are always the Lord Jesus and not the Father. The Holy Spirit manifests himself at times but usually in some form other than man. (The dove of the baptism or the tongues of flame at Pentecost.)

I Tim. 6:16, "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."

Paul shows that the Father has not been seen. The Old Testament contains many occasions when the Lord Jesus appeared in the form of man, of fire, of smoke, etc. The Holy Spirit appears in other forms as well. Paul teaches that we cannot view God in His original form. He must cloak Himself in other forms for us to see and withstand His glory.

At the times that man has seen God it has been what we have termed Theophanies. We have also mentioned anthropormorphisms. This is when Scripture pictures God with hands, eyes, ears, arms etc.

God's appearance in other than His actual form is for two reasons. His glory would be too much for us to stand. When Moses saw God he was hidden and what Moses saw, from the terms used, may have been just what was left after the glory of God passed by. He is an infinite Being trying to reveal Himself to finite beings and the Theophanies are a good way to accomplish this.


1. God, the perfect and pure spirit, which is unhindered by the things that so easily draw our attention, is always and perfectly attuned to us and our needs. Might we ask the question, "Is God always attuned to our needs?" Might we ask the question, "Are His emotions always aimed our direction?" YES to both questions, UNLESS SIN HINDERS IT.

To answer these questions, we might consider the fact that sin hinders our fellowship with him. We must assume that His emotions, though still acting on our behalf, may not have effect, or at least full effect, if we are not walking with Him. What an encouragement to walk with Him closely!

2. When we want a perfect friend that fully understands, and one that will fully support us, why do we go looking among men to find one? We have one fully capable and perfectly qualified, IN RESIDENCE, if you will! Indeed, man cannot be the comfort that God can!

May we learn to allow God to be all that He desires to be in our life.