The Emotions of God: Making Sense of a God Who Hates, Weeps, and Loves, By David T. Lamb

The Emotions of God

Making Sense of a God Who Hates, Weeps, and Loves

by David T. Lamb

The Emotions of God
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: November 22, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0010
  • ISBN: 9781514000106

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The God of the Bible is emotional. Many Christians don't want to associate emotions with God. Emotions feel irrational, and the idea of God experiencing hate, anger, and jealousy can be confusing and problematic. And yet the Bible is full of stories where God expresses deep emotion. Christians are often left wondering how to reconcile the tension of an all-powerful God expressing seemingly uncontrollable feelings. If God is hateful and angry at humanity, is he a God worth believing in?

In The Emotions of God, biblical scholar David Lamb examines seven divine emotions—hate, anger, jealousy, sorrow, joy, compassion, and love—and argues that it is not only good that God is emotional but also that we as his image-bearers can express emotions in such a way that reflects his goodness to the world. With discussion questions and suggestions for application, Lamb challenges his readers to journey with him into a rich study of the stories surrounding God's emotions so that we might better know God and reflect the beauty of emotion to the world.

"Many Christians fear their emotions. They worry their emotions will control them and make them do or say something they will regret. In his excellent and highly readable book The Emotions of God, David Lamb reminds us that emotions can be 'normal, natural, even divine.' After all, he shows us, God has a rich emotional life himself. Those who read this book will grow not only in their understanding of God but also of themselves."

Tremper Longman III, distinguished scholar and professor emeritus of biblical studies, Westmont College

"'Well obviously God doesn't have feelings. That would make him unpredictable and irrational. The Bible's just making allowance for our way of seeing things when it describes him that way.' Once again David Lamb shows how wrong we can be about the Bible (and God) and how much more interesting the Bible is than we thought (and how much more interesting God is)."

John Goldingay, professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Old Testament Ethics

"We need this book because so many today are afraid or uncomfortable with God's emotions that stand up and shout at us. All over the place. Theologians have concocted an unemotional (impassible) God, but that God is not the God of the Bible. David Lamb has patiently examined seven emotions of God, and he has done so in the context of ancient and modern discussions of feelings. What we discover is that our discomfort is not God's: our God is an emotional God, and those divine emotions can become our instructors for our feelings. A must-read."

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and author of A Church Called Tov

"The Emotions of God is a deep dive into our Creator's heart and makes the case that emotions are both human and divine. It echoes the call to image our Creator by owning our own emotions and stewarding them in ways that reflect his heart for the world. Definitely the kind of wisdom we all need in these emotionally turbulent times."

Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church and Malestrom

"Old Testament professor David Lamb discusses the intriguing topic of God's emotions as described in Scripture: God's hatred, wrath, jealousy, sorrow, joy, compassion, and love. This very readable book includes personal anecdotes, theological reflection, and exegetical insight based on the original language used in Scripture to refer to God's emotions. The application of God's emotions to the people of God exemplifies the pastoral side of biblical studies, and this from someone who does it so well."

Karen H. Jobes, Gerald F. Hawthorne Professor Emerita of New Testament Greek and Exegesis, Wheaton College

"As we read in the Scriptures, God has emotions such as anger, hatred, and jealousy, and it is difficult to understand these coming from a loving God. In The Emotions of God, we get great insight from David Lamb, who is not just a super smart scholar but one who truly understands everyday life with average people. So this is a really accessible and practical guide to the very big questions about God's emotions. We are created in God's image, and this affects how we gain understanding of ourselves as emotional human beings."

Dan Kimball, faculty at Western Seminary and author of How (Not) to Read the Bible

"I finished this book with tears in my eyes, since David Lamb's closing words echo the love of my own heart for the Scriptures that show us the love of God's heart—and all the other emotions there. Indeed, if knowing God better is the goal of attentive Bible study, then this book achieved that goal for this reader. And if a sense of humor counts as an emotion, then Lamb's cheerful sprinkling of his own surely reflects something of God's own playfulness, while helping us to take seriously, for the good of our souls, the range and depth of divine emotion so richly expressed in God's Word."

Christopher J. H. Wright, Langham Partnership, author of The God I Don't Understand

"I laughed, cried, and worshiped my way through The Emotions of God. With a deft sense of humor and touching personal stories, David Lamb invites us to engage deeply with the biblical portrait of God as an emotional being. For those who struggle with the idea that God could experience hatred, wrath, and jealousy, this book will reveal how even those more negative emotions express the depth of God's love. And it will draw readers to worship God holistically—with mind, heart, and soul—embracing the emotions that God has given us as people created in his image."

Brittany Kim, Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College

Read an Excerpt


1. Emotions Are Divine
2. The Hatred of God
3. The Wrath of God
4. The Jealousy of God
5. The Sorrow of God
6. The Joy of God
7. The Compassion of God
8. The Love of God
Epilogue: The Emotions of the People of God

Appendix: Comparing the Emotions of God
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
For Further Reading
Scripture Index


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David T. Lamb

David T. Lamb is the Allan A. MacRae Professor of Old Testament and dean of faculty at Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He previously worked in campus ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and has taught extensively in various crosscultural contexts. He is the author of God Behaving Badly, Righteous Jehu and His Evil Heirs, and The Historical Writings: Introducing Israel's Historical Literature (coauthored with Mark Leuchter).