Read Psalm 83
A song. A psalm of Asaph.
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.
In this psalm, Asaph shares ALL the enemies that surround the people of God. In verses 6-8, these people and places seem to fit two categories: 1) enemies who geographically surrounded Israel and 2) the major superpower at the time responsible for the destruction of the northern kingdom. It seems then that Psalm 83 paints a picture of an Israel hemmed in by enemies on every side who can find no escape from a superpower who is ready to pounce.
In verses 9-11, Asaph, in using these names, recalls many victories in Israel’s past before founding the kingdom and the crowning of a king. Asaph is teaching us to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness! He used God’s past victories to sing a hopeful song for what God would do to their present enemies.
Sometimes, we’ve felt like this too – surrounded by our enemies. However, unlike Asaph, maybe we’ve asked for God’s vengeance for our own reasons and in our own timing. But Asaph’s words hold a lesson for us about how to respond to problems. Asaph trusts that God will eventually take care of his enemies even in the void of a consistent silence. Such trust is not easy, but it is worth it. And trust is not the only lesson to be learned from Asaph’s prayer.
We also learn that Asaph longs for God’s voice to be heard so that his enemies know God is the only God and Lord over all. Asaph’s cry for justice is not for his own benefit: it is that God’s glory would be known throughout the earth. This is a humbling lesson to learn. How often are our prayers for relief selfish and for our revenge, rather than for God’s glory? Asaph’s prayer for his enemies’ destruction is ultimately that they would be humbled so that they would seek God. His cry is not only for their defeat, but for their restoration.
- Verse 3 speaks of “your people” being under attack. What are some ways that the people of God are under attack today?
- In what ways has this psalm challenged or impacted you?
- How can we learn to pray for our enemies the way Asaph did?
Did You Know?
Asaph’s descendants formed an essential guild of temple singers and contributed to the preservation of psalms. Asaph was the author of 12 psalms, and Psalm 83 is the last of those 12.
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