They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. 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. — Psalm 83:3-4
Antagonism toward Israel has been a reality since God delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt and established them as a nation. In Bible times, the Egyptians were not the Israelites’ only enemies. The Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Romans all fought against the Children of Israel and sought their destruction.
In today’s focus verses, the psalmist Asaph cried out to God, urging Him to protect Israel from those who had “taken crafty counsel against thy people” and united in a confederacy with the goal of ensuring that “the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.”
During World War II, Hitler and Nazi Germany wiped out six million Jews in an effort to exterminate the Jewish people. When Israel was established as a nation in 1948, a new wave of persecution and oppression nearly submerged the infant state. Today, many decades later, Israel is still surrounded by enemies — Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran — and Islamic extremists vow publicly to wipe the nation of Israel from the face of the earth.
Why has such animosity been directed against God’s chosen people through the ages? According to the Bible, God has a special purpose for the nation of Israel. They rejected God, yet He still has a plan for them, and Satan wants to defeat that plan. Satanically influenced hatred of Israel is the reason their neighbors have always wanted to see Israel destroyed. However, attempts to annihilate this nation will always fail. We know Israel will suffer more in the days ahead; the persecution of Israel will continue until the Revelation of Christ. However, someday the nation will be finally and completely delivered from her enemies. Jesus will set up His Millennial Kingdom and will reign in peace from Jerusalem.
When we read the news about the tensions in Israel and the Middle East, we do not need to fear. We can look to God with complete assurance that He has the situation under control and nothing which occurs in that region will catch Him by surprise. His divine plan is being unfolded! We can and should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. While we wait for that peace to come, we can be confident that one day, in His perfect timing, Christ will defeat Satan and bring peace to Israel and the whole earth. And just as God will continue to watch out for Israel, we have many promises in His Word of how He watches out for each individual who places his or her trust in Him.
All three of today’s psalms are credited to Asaph, or perhaps his descendants.
Psalm 81 likely was written for use at Israel’s feasts. Many scholars believe it was used for the observance of the Feast of Trumpets, which was part of the Feast of Tabernacles. These celebrations took place near the harvest time and at the start of the Jewish year — the last part of September and beginning of October by the Gregorian calendar used by most western nations. The psalm rehearses Israel’s history and then gives God’s message and warnings.
In verses 1-5, the writer called for worship, including music that was hearty (“sing aloud”) and joyous (“joyful noise”). A “timbrel” referenced a tambourine; the “harp” was similar to a lyre; a “psaltery” was an early guitar or zither; and the “trumpet” was a ram’s horn.
Beginning at verse 6, God’s instructions were given. Verses 6-10 spoke of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt where they had been slaves, His help after they escaped, and His commandments for them. Verses 11-16 focus on the rebellion of the Israelites and how God desired for them to follow Him so He could bless them.
Psalm 82 was a cry against Israel’s judges who had become corrupt. The writer declared that God is the Judge of all, and therefore those in authority should act justly. Scholars interpret the word “gods” in “he judgeth among the gods” (verse 1) and “Ye are gods” (verse 6) to mean the rulers of the people. The psalmist was stating that these leaders would be accountable for their corruption.
The time period when Psalm 83 was written cannot be firmly established because throughout their history, the nation of Israel had numerous enemies, including those named here. This psalm has two sections. Verses 1-8 describe the problems of the Jewish people and list their foes, which surrounded them on every side. Verses 9-18 are a plea for God to defeat those enemies as He had done before. Specific examples were cited in verse 9 — deliverance from the Midianites either in Moses’ or Gideon’s time, and the defeat of Sisera in Deborah’s time. The writer desired that God would be glorified by Israel’s deliverance (verses 17-18).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
Though Israel has suffered greatly at the hand of its enemies throughout history, someday God’s plan will be completed and Israel — and all the world — will enjoy perfect peace.