A song. A psalm of Asaph.
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.
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 pasture-lands of God.’
Make them like tumble-weed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
so that they will seek your name.
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;(Ps. 83:1-18 NIV)
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.
This Psalm is an urgent cry for help because the nations around the people of God have joined together to plot against the Lord’s people. The Psalmist cries out to the one true God. It is a recurring theme with the Psalmist that the Lord appears to be silent, to not be responding to his prayer. Do not keep silent, do not be quiet, do not be still – three ways of saying the same thing. The repetition reveals the intensity of the Psalmist’s feelings caused by the Lord giving no evidence of hearing or responding.
The Psalmist calls the enemies the Lord’s enemies. The enemies made an alliance against the Lord. The word translated alliance is the same word mostly translated covenant. Ten people groups have joined together against the Lord and the Lord’s people. These people groups had a history of causing trouble for God’s people.
In v9 the Psalmist begins his prayer of imprecation against the enemy. The Psalmist refers back to the victories that the Lord brought about under the hands of Deborah and Gideon. The names of the judges are omitted because this was entirely a work of the Lord. The enemy had attempted to spoil the pasturelands, the Psalmist says the pasturelands of God. The Psalmist desires the end of the enemies to be like the end of two weeds and the chaff that is blown away. The two weeds are ‘tumbleweeds’ and ‘forest family’ (though this can’t be seen from the NIV). The Psalmist wants the enemy destroyed like the fire destroys the forest. As God pursues them like a tempest and a storm, they are left terrified and confused. As shame rests on the enemy in their defeat, so others will see what the Lord has done and they will turn from their evil and seek the covenant LORD’s name. In defeat they will realise that they made a covenant (alliance) with the wrong party, they should have made covenant with the LORD, the covenant God.
The Psalmist prays for shame and dismay to abide with the enemy, and that they might perish in disgrace. Let all the enemy, and all the surrounding nations know that God, whose name is covenant LORD, is the Most High over all the earth. It is foolish not to be in covenant with the LORD.
Lord God, many have made an alliance together to oppose the Kingdom of God. We pray Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. The coming in of the Kingdom will see the defeat of every enemy of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Then all will know the name of the LORD Jesus Christ, the covenant LORD, the King of kings, and all will know that the Most High is sovereign ruler over the whole earth. Lord help us to be part of the bringing in of the Kingdom of God, as we see people coming to Christ. May Your Kingdom be established through Your people being built up in their faith, and going into the part of the world where you have placed them, in offices, in factories, in shops, in hospitals, in schools and in neighbourhoods, and sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God. Lord be pleased to hear our prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.