PSALM 83 - Week of January 1st

By Judy Nichols

January 1, 2017


Some of the Psalms are wonderful to read. They lift our spirits and exhort us to worship and praise. Other Psalms are not so encouraging. Psalm 83 is one of them. In my Bible it is subtitled "God Implored to Confound His Enemies."

The first few verses describe what Israel’s – and hence, God’s – enemies are doing: They make an uproar; they raise their heads in hate; they lay crafty plans to destroy God’s people; they act in collusion. Ten of the Gentile nations surrounding Israel are named in the next few verses as making a covenant to conspire against God.

Then the Psalmist prays for God to intervene, causing their schemes to fail. He gives examples from Israel’s history, from times when they were vastly outnumbered but God routed their enemies before them. He uses word pictures for what he wants God to do. "Make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest . . . so may You pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with Your hurricane. Fill their faces with shame . . . let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish is disgrace" (v.13-17).

Yet in the midst of this tirade, we see a glimpse of God’s heart. After, "fill their faces with shame" in verse 16, he says, "that they may seek Your name, O Lord." And the Psalm concludes with, "that they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth." The goal of seeing God’s enemies confounded is not revenge and destruction but redemption.

The nation of Israel was to be the conduit of God’s blessing to the world. In all the covenants God made with the patriarchs was the statement, "In you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Gen. 12:3, 26:4, 28:14).

Today the church – and hence, God – has many enemies. Radical Islamic terrorists want to kill Christians (as well as anyone else who disagrees with them). Political despots oppress the church. Angry atheists and the more subtle twisters of truth seek to silence the gospel message. They are more numerous, stronger, and better funded than God’s people. They make an uproar; they raise their heads in hate; they lay crafty plans to destroy God’s people. They act independently and in collusion at times. And while they couch their purpose in words of human rights and religious or political ideology, their true target is God Himself.

Should we pray for their plans to fail? Should we ask God to intervene on our behalf? Absolutely! The church’s mandate is to spread the good news, to extend God’s kingdom reign to the farthest corners of the earth. We are to be a blessing and the greatest blessing the enemies of God can receive is to experience utter failure, to be confronted by the existence of a God who is more powerful than they are yet who loves them enough to die for them.

© Judy Nichols 2016

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