Psalm 83

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!

2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.

3 They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

4 They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:

6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;

7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon,

10 Who perished at En Dor,
Who became as refuse on the earth.

11 Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,

12 Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”

13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!

14 As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,

15 So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.

16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.

17 Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,

18 That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Thematically the three parts of this psalm parallel the three essential provisions—or, more precisely promises (see Galatians 3:17-18)—of the Abrahamic Covenant: an eternal land, an eternal people, and eternal blessing (for Israel and all nations. it is the fulfillment of these promises, and not the destruction of enemies per se, that drives the psalmists’ imprecation in this psalm. — Wechsler, page 204.


Verses 1-8 — In this section Asaph focuses on the threat to Israel by her many enemies, who collectively conspire (v.3) to wipe them out … that the name of Israel may be remembered no more—an intention which is ultimately directed against God Himself, since it is He who established them as a distinct people (Genesis 12:2) and promised that they would remain so forever (Jeremiah 31:35-37), and it is He who gave them their name (see Genesis 32:28), which name itself bears out the character of God, not Israel (i.e., “God strives). The expression “lifted up their head” (v.2), is referring to the mustering and counting of soldiers in preparation for battle (see Numbers 31:49), the many enemy participants in which include the children (lit. “sons”) of Lot (though he himself was righteous; see 2 Peter 2:7)—i.e., the Moabites (v. 6b) and the Ammonites (v.7a). — Wechsler, pages 204-205.

make a tumult (v.2) — rage like the sea

Verses 9-15 — Consistent with their collective intention to “wipe out” the people of Israel, the enemies of God’s people also seek to possess the land of Israel for themselves—an intention which is likewise ultimately directed against God since it was He who gave them that land as “an everlasting possession” (see Genesis 13:15; 17:8; Psalm 105:10-11). — Wechsler, page 205.


Those concerned were mostly the semi-nomadic peoples whose petty kingdoms stretched along the east side of the Jordan valley, i.e., Edom, Moab, Ammon, with the Hagrites and Ishmaelites who lived still farther east (cf. 1 Chronicles 5:10) and also the people of Gebal (south of Edom). In addition, there were the forces of the western seaboard, Philistia and Tyre. And in the background was the might of Assyria which had already lent an arm of help to the children of Lot, i.e., to Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:36-38).

Two of the most noteworthy attacks were those by Sisera (Judges 4-5) and the invasion of the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In both cases the Israelites were not merely outnumbered, but also outclassed in aggressive equipment. Nevertheless both perils were amazingly overcome; the menace was swiftly and entirely removed and at very little loss to the Israelites. — Guthrie, page 503.


Verses 16-18 — Counterbalancing the imprecation in this psalm (as also, even if implicitly, in any other imprecatory psalm or statement in Scripture) is God’s final—and, with respect to its scope, greatest—promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through them all nations of the earth might be blessed (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). This promise is here explicitly affirmed by Asaph, who implores God to fill the faces of Israel’s enemies with dishonor, that they may seek God’s name and know that it is He alone whose name is the LORD—in which statements the terms “name,” and especially the name itself (Yahweh) signify not just what God is called, but who He is and what He does (Malachi 1:11). — Wechsler, page 206.


The apparition of the wild beast with the seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 13, whose purpose as Satan’s agent will be to cause the Hebrew people to cease to exist, and whose destruction in Revelation 19 is assured, with the consequent enthronement of the Messiah as Most High over all the earth, engage the faith and prayer of this psalm. — Williams, page 364.

Reinforcing Williams’ view (above) is the fact that an alliance of enemy states, as described in this psalm, does not occur in the Old Testament. The closest situation was the coalition against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-12).

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