Weds 27 October - Psalm 83
1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God.”
13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
so that they will seek your name.
17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
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Meditation on Psalm 83
This is the last of the Asaph Psalms but he goes out with a ‘bang’.
If we backtrack for a moment to this particular group of Psalms – Psalms 79-83 – we see a pattern in Asaph’s prayers.
Psalm 79 he is asking God for forgiveness and help as he also prays for judgment on the nations who have sought the destruction of Israel, showing contempt for the people and also for God Himself.
Psalm 80 he is asking God for the restoration of His people having been attacked by a foreign power.
Psalm 81 shows us two sides – firstly the rescue act of God and how He longed for His people to stay loyal to Him but secondly, the plea from God to His people to listen and obey. “If my people would only listen to me; if Israel would only follow my ways; how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.”
Psalm 82 he appeals to God to judge the earth for ‘all the nations are your inheritance.’
Now we come to the climax of this group Asaph Palms. The bottom line is that he is asking God to zap the enemies of His people once and for all.
Verses 1-4 Please God, act now
Notice how the Psalmist describes the activities of the enemies.
- they growl
- they rear their heads
- they are cunning
- they conspire against your people
- they plot against those you cherish
- they want to make sure that the name of Israel is removed for ever
An example of this attitude towards God’s people is the Roman Emperor Diocletian (AD 284-305). He boasted that he had destroyed Christianity.
He ordered a medal to be made with this inscription: ‘The name of Christianity being extinguished.’ Diocletian also set up at least two monuments on the frontier of the empire with these inscriptions:
‘Diocletian … for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin,’
Diocletian … ‘for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ …’
Diocletian has come and gone - a footnote in history.
God lives on – the God of history.
The Psalmist is quite clear in his prayer to God.
- “don’t remain silent”
- “don’t turn a deaf ear”
- “don’t stand aloof”
It’s a prayer of desperation as if there is no time to lose.
Around the world there are the enemies of the living God. They want to wipe out the name of God. They want to destroy the people of God.
How do we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in these times – “Please God, act NOW!”
Verses 5-8 A real and present danger
These verses don ‘t describe a particular attack because the names of these nations or people groups don’t belong to one period in history.
Michael Wilcock comments on this list: ‘it seems more likely that the psalmist is looking back over the centuries and presenting a poetic picture of the many enemies that have arisen against Israel at various times, from the earliest, Amalek (Exodus 17:8) to the latest, Assyria (2 kings 15-19).’
The people of God around the world today are under attack but as we pray, we remember that God is still on the throne.
Verse 9-17 Learning from the past
The Psalmist looks back to the time of the judges – Judges 4-8. He doesn’t name the judges but rather the enemies of God’s people.
These enemies wanted to ‘take possession of the pasturelands of God.’
Again the psalmist is quite clear in his praying… read verses 13-17
He is not messing about when he prays for God’s judgment on these people and nations.
Verse 18 God is God
This is the psalmist’s final prayer – the outcome of all his prayers – as should ours be – ‘let them know that you, whose name is the LORD – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.’
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