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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 83

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

Psalms 83:1-18.-Prayer for God's open interposition (Psalms 83:1); since God's foes tumultuously assail Israel in a vast confederacy of ten nations, Edom, Ammon, and Moab being the center (Psalms 83:2-8); prayer, grounded on God's past deliverances from Midian and Jabin, that He will send His fiery anger on the foe, in order that all may know that Yahweh is most high over all the earth (Psalms 83:9-18). This is the earliest psalm of the series concerning the overthrew of the confederacy which assailed Jehoshaphat. It is a thanksgiving by anticipation for the victory.

So the title is, A Song (shir) or Psalm of Asaph; probably by "Jahaziel the son of Zecharish, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Aspaph," upon whom "came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation" (2 Chronicles 20:14). The 47th Psalm was sung on the battlefield after the victory. (Psalms 48:1-14), subsequently in the temple, This "praise-song" was sung by "the Levites, Kohathites, and Korliites, with a loud voice on high" (2 Chronicles 20:18-19). The object of the invaders was to root Israel out of his inheritance. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:7-11 with Psalms 83:3-5; Psalms 83:12, here. The joined craft with force (Psalms 83:3). Marching southward, round the Dead Sea, instead of entering from the east, they let no tidings reach Jehoshaphat until he heard a great multitude was within his territory at Engedi (2 Chronicles 20:2).

Keep not thou silence, O God - even as we do 'not keep silence' from words of prayer (Isaiah 62:6-7), so 'do not thou keep silence' from the word of command for our deliverance. Our age would be desperate indeed, if, when "thine enemies make a tumult" (Psalms 83:2), THOU were to keep silences (cf, Psalms 28:1, note).

Verse 2

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult. God's people rightly remind their Father that the invade are not merely their enemies, but His; therefore His honour is at stake in delivering them-an all-prevailing plea. The foes are a type of the Gentile people, the followers of Antichrist of whom Psalms 2:1-12 saith, 'Why do the pagan tumultuously assemble? (margin) ... the kings of the earth ... and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed?'

They that hate thee - the real ground of their hatred against thy people (Psalms 81:15.)

Have lifted up the head - proudly and so oppressors; as Midian, once did, until God by Gideon subdued them, "so that they lifted up their heads no more" (Judges 8:28).

Verse 3

They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.

They have taken crafty counsel against thy people - They combine craft with violence.

And consulted against thy hidden ones - thy people whom God 'in the time of trouble hides (so His special treasure, Malachi 3:17) in His pavilion, in the secret of His tabernacle' (Psalms 27:5: cf. also Psalms 31:20); especially true of Christians, whose "life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

Verse 4

They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

They have said, Come, and let us cut them off - let us extirpate them. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; 2 Chronicles 20:10-11 for the coincidence with the history. So Haman plotted to root out all the Jews (Esther 3:6; Esther 3:9), etc.

Verse 5

For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:

For they have, consulted together with one consent - Hebrew, 'with the heart unanimously' (Psalms 64:5-6), implying the hearty zeal with which they entered the plot.

They are confederate against thee - literally, 'they have cut' or 'formed a covenant against thee.' Contrast Psalms 50:5, 'those that have made (cut) a covenant with me by sacrifice."

Verse 6

The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;

The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes. As the Edomites were not a wandering people, 'tents' are to be understood here as referring to their camp tents while engaged in the invasion of Israel. Edom, Moab, and Ammon were the ring-leaders; and around them respectively are grouped those allies whom they had induced to join in the expedition. This view accounts for the otherwise unaccountable separation of Moab and Ammon, which are elsewhere always joined together. With Edom are associated the Ishmaelites, because Edom dwelt in the desert of Arabia, between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea. What aggravated the conduct of Edom, Ammon, and Moab was, that this was the ungrateful return they made for the forbearance of Israel; because the Israelites, when they came out of Egypt by God's command, had turned from those peoples and destroyed them not, because of their original tie of kindred through Jacob with Esau or Edom, and through Abraham with the children of Lot (2 Chronicles 20:10-11).

The Hagarenes were a wandering Arab tribe east of Jordan, descended from Hagar, which in Saul's days was dispossessed of its country by the Reubenites under God, to whom the latter cried in the battle (1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:19; 1 Chronicles 5:22). The Hagarenes moved to the neighbourhood of Moab, and are therefore mentioned here as the ally of Moab, which latter people held the region east of the Dead Sea as far as to the river Arnon.

Verse 7

Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;

Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek. Gebal was an Idumean clan, on the right of Ammon, as Amalek was on the left of Ammon, and extended thence to the region between Idumea and Egypt. Ammon held the region between the Arnon and the Jabbok. So in Judges 3:13, Eglon, the king of Moab, had Ammon and Amalek as his allies in smiting Israel.

The Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre. To the seven nations who constituted the main body, three more nations joined themselves-the Philistines, dwelling south and west of Canaan; Tyre, though not warlike but mercantile, always ready to embrace an opportunity of gain (Ezekiel 27:1-36; Ezekiel 28:2-24). So in Amos 1:6-10, the Philistines, the Tyrians, and Edomites appear combined against Israel. Compare Joel 3:4-6, where Tyre's greed of gain appears in her trading Jewish captives as slaves obtained from the Philistines; the acquisition of Jewish slaves would be one of her objects in joining the invasion.

Verse 8

Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.

Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot - literally, 'they (i:e., not merely Assur, but all the nations just named) are an arm to the sons of Lot' (Isaiah 33:21). Assyria stands last, as being farthest off, and engaged only indirectly and partially in the confederacy. The psalm must have been written before Assyria became a world-empire and mistress of western Asia. The Asshurim were, in part at least, akin to the Arabs, as descendants of Abraham (Genesis 25:3; Genesis 25:18), and so take part in this movement of the Arab tribes. They on the far east stand in contrast to the Tyrians and Philistines on the west. "The children of Lot" are mentioned last, as the prime movers and instigators of the conspiracy.

Verse 9

Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:

Do unto them as unto the Midianites - overthrown by mutual destruction, Gideon leading 300 men of Israel (Judges 7:22: cf. on a different occasion 1 Samuel 14:20). This was the very way whereby God destroyed Jehoshaphat's foes in answer to the prayer here (2 Chronicles 20:22-23). The utter discomfiture of Midian is made by the prophets the earnest of the final overthrow of the last enemies of God and His people (note, Isaiah 9:4-5; Habakkuk 3:7; Isaiah 10:26).

As to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison - (Judges 4:7; Judges 4:13; Judges 4:15; Judges 4:24; Judges 5:21.)

Verse 10

Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.

Which perished at En-dor: they became as dung for the earth. En-dor is not mentioned in Judges as the scene of the overthrow of Midian. The Psalmist had other sources of information besides that book. In Joshua 17:11 En-dor is mentioned with Taanach and Megiddo in the region of Mannasseh. It is an undesigned coincidence, and therefore a mark of truth, that Taanach and Megiddo waters are mentioned as the scene of the "battle" (Judges 5:19). En-dor, which was near, would naturally be the scene of many 'perishing.'

Verse 11

Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:

Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb; yea, all their princes as Zebah and as Zalmunna. Oreb and Zeeb were the prince-generals of Midian (Judges 7:25). Zebah and Zalmunna were their kings (Judges 8:5; Judges 8:10; Judges 8:12; Judges 8:18; Judges 8:21).

Verse 12

Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.

Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession - i:e., Canaan given by God Himself to Israel. Herein lay their main guilt. Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:11 says, "Behold ... how they reward us, to come to cast us out of THY possession, which THOU hast given us to inherit."

Verses 13-18

O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.

-Second part of the second main division. Prayer inspired by God for the extinction of the foe by the fiery storm of God.

Verse 13. O my God, make them like a wheel - rather, 'like a thing whirled round as a wheel,' or like a whirlwind: parallel to "the stubble before the wind." Compare note, Psalms 77:18; Isaiah 17:13, 'they shall be chased like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.'

Verse 14. As the flame setteth the mountains on fire - i:e., setteth on fire the wood and stubble on the mountains.

Verse 15. Make them afraid with thy storm. The same Hebrew verb (tebahaleem) as in Psalms 83:17 is translated, "let them ... be troubled." 'Put them in consternation.'

Verse 16. Fill their faces with shame - expanded in Psalms 83:17, "Let them be confounded" etc.; "yea, let them be put to shame."

That they may seek thy name, O Lord - expanded in Psalms 83:18, "That (men) may know that thou ... Yahweh

... art the Most High," etc. "Thy name" is "THEE" in thy glorious manifestation of thy attributes, thy power, wisdom, and love to thy people, exercised for the subjugation of their enemies. Not the conversion of the enemy who are past hope, but their forced submission, like that of Pharaoh, is here contemplated (Psalms 59:13). Verse 17. Let them be ... troubled for ever - the same Hebrew as for 'make afraid' (Psalms 83:15). 'Let them be put to consternation forever.'

Verse 18. That (men) may know - rather, 'let them know' to their cost.

That thou whose name alone is JEHOVAH (YAHWEH), art the Most High over all the earth - literally, 'that thou, thy name, O Yahweh, art Most High,' etc. 'Thou, thy name,' means, thou, in respect to thy manifestation of thyself in deeds. The gods of the pagan have no deeds to 'produce,' manifesting their unseen godhead (Isaiah 41:21-24; Isaiah 41:26); in this God-Yahweh stands alone. Compare Isaiah 37:16; Isaiah 37:20; 1 Samuel 17:46.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 83". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-83.html. 1871-8.
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