Truth, Understanding, Insight

Psalm 83

8th February 2022, hej


5) Psalm 83 & Purpose of the Psalms

Asaph was a music writer, inspired to set up a worship and praise for the Jewish people for all time. Since the volume was closed at the time of Ezra well before the common era there have been no additions. Every culture can easily distinguish between poetry and song and mere prose. If we have any doubt as to the difference we may compare the far reaching analogies of Deborah's song in Judges 5 to the plain account of the defeat of Sisera's army in Judges 4. Or we could compare Moses' hyperbolic victory song of Exodus 15 and the plain account of the defeat of Pharaoh.

The references to psalms explain they are to express thanks, joy, praise for Yahweh's wondrous works (1Chron 16:9. Pslam 95:2, 105: 2), melody to the Lord and merriness (Eph 5:19 Jas 5:13). Paul says they are for teaching and admonition to have grace in the heart (Col 3:16). Therefore unlike all other scripture they were designed to teach and be easy to remember. Our Lord said that things concerning himself if the Law, Prophets and Psalms had to be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). but he placed the inspired plain word before the inspired songs of praise. The one reference he makes in teaching to using he psalms is rather to establish the obtuse nature of the psalms as he asks why David calls his son 'Lord' (Luke 20:42) which leaves the thought leaders of his day without words.

Psalm 83 is unlike any other national hymn written in a time of war. It is not about Israel's enemies, but Yahweh Elohim's enemies. It begins by teaching that there are many enemies of Yahweh, who hate him and that Israel are the people of God, and therefore hated by many nations. Even in long exile the Psalm was relevant as though Jews were not facing those specific enemies the vibe was true, their enemies making tumult were Yahweh Elohim's enemies. Remember that the issue Samuel berated the people about, when they asked for a king, was that they were not like other nations and Yahweh Elohim was their king. Asaph made it a song. This Psalm is deeply of its context. Asaph was there and finds the heart of the issue- since the prophecy of Baalam to Moab all nations about knew that Israel's existence was a witness to the God of Israel. Asaph was teaching Israel that Yahweh Elohim's enemies would seek to destroy Israel, not for their sake but for the power of their God. Asaph them makes it real by naming all about Israel of his day. Did these enemies of Israel collude at one point in one massive invasion, or was it an unwritten undertone to every individual effort that the matter at the heart was the witness of the existence of Israel's God? From the history of the time of Asaph and from every point since, it is the latter.

Israel was even taught in song to distrust the hearts and motives of the efforts of the inhabitants of Tyre, while they were supplying building materials of their Tabernacle! The psalm names obscure peoples, and peoples who no longer exist. It names the far flung Ashur Assyria before it was an enemy, but it does not name Egypt. The list seems ordered and may have much to do with the music of the names and the poetry of beginning with Edom the brother of Jacob and ending with Lot the nephew of Abraham.

The beginning of the psalm says the nations named hated Yahweh Elohim, so the inspired omission of Egypt had to do with the lack of hate of Yahweh Elohim from Egypt back then, and presumably for all time the psalm was to be sung.

Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them. (Psalm 105:38)

The summary conclusion of the whole inspired psalm, which in all understanding and interpretation should prevail, is that the enemies of Yahweh Elohim are destroyed and dispersed and in doing so Yahweh Elohim's name is glorified in all the earth before all nations.


In the context of the psalm's historical setting, primary message and purpose, we should be wary of trying to read it as a prophecy of our time as may be found in the book of Ezekiel, Isaiah or Daniel. The nations have been long lost or scattered as the Psalm required. There are no nations called Edom or Moab. The Hagarenes are not to be found. Amalek was wiped out in the time of David. The genetic descendents of the Philistines who were not Semites or Canaanites but from Caphtor (Amos 9:7) are no more to be found as a distinct people. The great merchant traders of Tyre walked away on their own feet after their trading city was destroyed (Isaiah 23:7). Even the remaining proud Assyrians who now mostly worship Chaldean Christianity are dispersed in many nations.

There are modern peoples in these ancient lands. There is again tumult, enmity and hate of the Jews in the land because it is the witness of the God of Israel. Jews may chant the psalm and learn once again that it is not about them, but Yahweh Elohim. The detail of the psalms may be based in poetry but the substance will be fulfilled – and even in partial fulfilment they will not be fully fulfilled until all the enemies of Yahweh are for ever silenced.

O LORD. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Yahweh, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)