Psalm 83

The Word Made Fresh

(A song. A psalm of Asaph.)

1God, don’t be silent.
Don’t hold your peace or remain quiet.
2Your enemies are raging even now.
Those who hate you have raised themselves up.
3They are crafty and are making plans against your people.
They are plotting against the very ones you watch over.
4They say to one another, “Come, let us band together and destroy Israel
and wipe them off the face of the earth forever.”
5They make plans with one another
for the purpose of making an alliance against you,
6by gathering the Edomites, Ishmaelites, Moabites, and Hagrites,
7Gebalites, Ammonites, Amalekites,
and the Philistines along with the people of Tyre,
8and, joined by Assyria,
they are all gathered with the descendants of Lot.
9But do to them as you did to Midian.
Do to them as you did to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Creek
10who were defeated at Endor
and were reduced to nothing more than dung on the dirt.
11Make their leaders like Oreb and Zeeb:
make their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna
12who said, “Let’s take over the fields of God
and claim them for our own.”
13Make them like dust being blown across the ground,
like tumbleweeds tumbling before the wind.
14Chase them like the fire burning through the forest
and setting ablaze the mountainsides.
15Pursue them like a great storm,
and terrify them with your mighty blast.
16Put them to shame until they call on you, LORD!
17Put them to shame until they are completely dismayed
and make them a disgrace.
18Let them know that you and only you, LORD,
are the Most High over the whole world.


Superscription: the 12th (and last) psalm ascribed to Asaph.

1-8: Following the sentiment expressed in Psalm 82, now God is asked to actively intervene in the plots of Israel’s enemies – Edom, Ishmael, Moab, Hagith, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, and Assyria. There was no point in history when all these threatened Israel at once; this is simply a list of Israel’s enemies through the previous generations. Some of them are nearly unknown outside this list.

9-12: The petition is that God will enable Israel to overcome every threat as they were enabled in the past to overcome other threats.

13-18: The argument is advanced that, if God defeats these enemies, they will know that the LORD is “most high over the earth.” The psalm is likely a very early one, dating from the days when the Israelites’ common belief was that its battles with various enemies, each of whom worshiped some pagan god or other, were actually battles between warring deities.


What are the warring “deities” in your life? What things tempt you the most away from God? The psalm tells us we can ask God to go to war against these things. That is foreign to our culture and our way of thinking, but is a valid prayer, and is like many of the prayers we find in the book of Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible. Maybe one problem people today have is that we simply don’t think of our temptations as enemies arrayed against us, aiming to bring us down.