Psalm 83 — Prayer For The Kingdom Of God
Psalm 83:1-18 NIV
This psalm is attributed to Asaph, who was probably a singer and musician during the times of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 15:17-19, 16:5-7, 25:6). Some scholars believe the 10 enemies mentioned in this psalm refers to the constant threat of extermination that Israel faced. This is thus just as applicable to God’s people now — the Church.
O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.
See how Your enemies growl, how Your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against Your people; they plot against those You cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel's name is remembered no more.”
With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against You —
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them to reinforce Lot's descendants.
In Hebrew poetry, the opening verse is usually the conclusion or the most important emphasis of the poem. The Psalmist began this psalm with one important thing in his mind, to ask God to hear and not to remain silent.
Israel was under continuous threat from her enemies (the Edomites, Ishmaelites, Byblos, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, and even as far away as Assyria who reinforced Lot’s descendants — the Moabites). The enemies were conspired with each other against God’s people, aiming to destroy Israel as a nation.
In our context today, the “nation” under threat is God’s Church. Satan is always aiming to destroy our Church. Do we see the spiritual war and know that we are under constant threat from Satan? Asaph emphasised his need for God as he called out to God for help. We need to Pray, Pray and Pray for God to help our Church.
How does the devil attack our Church? The threat that the Church faces is terrible and invisible. The devil corrupts people’s hearts, including those of Christians.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV)
Our Church, and our brothers and sisters in Christ are continuously threatened by Satan; we ought to see him as our common enemy.
This Psalm is divided into three parts. Firstly, the Psalmist told God how he viewed the threats from Israel’s enemies. How do we view the threats that Satan plots against our Church? Do we go to God in prayer to seek His intervention?
Secondly, the Psalmist recalled many of their past victories. We have had many victories too. God wants us to remember them and His role in helping us achieve them. Victories need not merely be memories of a distant past, as God remains eager to help us.
Finally, the Psalmist had the end of times in mind, when everyone will acknowledge that God alone is the Most High over all the earth.
Do to them as You did to Midian, as You did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
who perished at Endor and became like dung on the ground.
Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
who said, “Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God.”
Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like chaff before the wind.
In this second part of the psalm, the Psalmist prayed for their enemies to be destroyed the way God had defeated their other enemies in the past (the Midianites, Sisera, Jabin Oreb and Zeeb).
Do we remember how God helped us in the past in our spiritual battles? We were tempted and we sinned, but God helped us to overcome and repent. Most importantly, we must remember that Christ died for us. This psalm reminds us to remember what God has done for us, and assure us that He will do so again. Pray to God to help us like He did before. Meditate on this psalm and grow the conviction to go to God when we face trials of any kind.
As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm.
The Psalmist intensified his prayer as he asked God to take action against the enemies.
Do we pray with the same belief in God’s impact? Are our prayers limited by our lack of understanding of God’s power? We must believe that our God is powerful. In our conversation with one another, do we talk about God’s “tempests” and “storms”, or do we just talk about His love, peace or kindness?
This psalm was not only sung amongst the Israelites but heard by the enemies of Israel. They were meant for their ears too, for them to understand the judgment to come. Israel did not exist alone, but amongst foreigners who worshipped other gods. As Christians, we exist amongst non-believers who need to know about God’s “tempests” and “storms”.
… the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. (Isaiah 29:6 NIV)
Cover their faces with shame, Lord, so that they will seek Your name.
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that You, whose name is the Lord — that You alone are the Most High over all the earth.
At the end of this psalm, the Psalmist had a vision of two outcomes: some will be put to shame for their deeds but turn to seek God; the rest will be dismayed and perish. Everyone then will know that God alone is the Most High. We need to tell everyone to choose the correct side, either seek God or perish.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.