August 10 2023
Today, Thursday August 10
Surrounded by the Enemy
A song. A Psalm of Asaph
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. 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: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah
Psalm 83 is the last of a dozen Psalms identified with Asaph (Psalms 50, 73-83). Remember that these Psalms were written over a large span of history and different men with the same name of Asaph recorded these songs and Psalms. These men were led by the Spirit or God to turn history into lessons, messages, and also times of worship and praise for their nation.
Psalm 83 describes a coalition of at least ten Gentile nations that attempted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Most of the commentaries I studied connect this Psalm with King Jehoshaphat's great victory over them in a miraculous way. 2 Chronicles 20 is the record of this event. When King Jehoshaphat heard that they were coming he immediately turned to the LORD and called the people to do the same. “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
Israel has been the object of hatred and opposition since their years in Egypt, but God has kept His promises and preserved them (Gen. 12:1-3). Pharaoh, Haman in the book of Esther, Hitler, and every other would-be destroyer of the Jews has ultimately been humiliated and defeated. Even in my lifetime in 1967, in what is known as the Six-Day War, Israel was surrounded and attacked by three Arab nations determined to drive them into the sea. In those six days, Israel defeated these three Arab armies, gained territory four times its original size, and became the preeminent military power in the region.
This reminds us that the church of Jesus Christ is likewise hated and attacked by the world (John 15:18-19; 17:14), and like the Jews in Asaph's day, our defense is in prayer and faith in God's promises (Acts 4:23-31). Commenting on this Psalm, Alexander Maclaren wrote, "The world is up in arms against God's people, and what weapon has Israel? Nothing but prayer." But is there any better weapon? As he saw the enemy armies surrounding Israel, Asaph lifted three heartfelt requests to the Lord.
In verses 1-8, Asaph prayed and asked the Lord, see what is happening! It is interesting to note that two names of God open the psalm—Elohim and El, and two names close it—Jehovah and El Elyon (God Most High). The last name reminds us of Abraham's victory over the kings and his meeting with Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20). It is possible that Asaph was troubled because the Lord had said nothing through His prophets and done nothing through His providential workings to stop the huge confederacy from advancing. Literally he prayed, "Let there be no rest to you" (see Psalm 28:1-2; 35:21-22; 39:12; 109:11; Isa. 62:6). These were God's enemies, attacking God's people, and threatening God's "protected ones" (Psalm 27:5; 31:21), so it was time for God to take notice and act!
The invaders were many, they were united, and they proudly lifted their heads as they defied the Lord God of Israel. They had secretly plotted together but were now "roaring like the sea" (v. 2 "tumult"). Their purpose was to destroy God's people and take possession of the land (v. 12). It appears that Moab and Ammon, the incestuous sons of Lot (Gen. 19), were the leaders of the coalition, encouraged by Assyria, which was not yet a world power (v. 8).
Moab and Ammon would come from the east, along with the Ishmaelites, and Edom would come from the southeast along with their neighbor Gebal. Ishmael was the enemy and rival of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-21). The Hagerites lived northeast of Israel and the Amalekites lived southwest. The people of Philistia and Phoenicia (Tyre) were west of Israel. The enemy came against Israel from every direction and had the people surrounded! But King Jehosaphat prayed with the nation and God sent a prophet with an encouraging message of victory. (2 Chronicles 20:14-19).
My friend, today you might feel that you are surrounded by trouble and trials beyond your strength to face. Please believe the promises of Jesus to be with you, and He will fight your battles for you!