This psalm is a cry for help against a world was equipped and plotting to destroy the nation of Israel. In verse one the writer does not express himself with “please” or with similar phrases. Instead, there is a real sense of urgency in his requests when he wrote, “O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.”
From the description of events in the Psalms, many of the nations in that part of the world were taking up arms with the dual purposes of destroying the nation of Israel, and eradicating its very name from history! In verses 4 and 5, the Psalmist wrote, “They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more. For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant.”
The list of opponents was numerous and powerful. Many had been enemies for a long time, but even the major empire of Assyria was allied with the coalition of nations opposed to Israel. The irony was that several of those nations had historical ties to the father of Israel – Abraham. The founders of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and the Ishmaelites were all related to Abraham, but all were also old enemies of Israel.
In verses 9-10, the Psalmist reminded God of the help He had given His people in the past. He wrote, “Deal with them as with Midian, as with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of Kishon, who were destroyed at Endor…” In spite of the terrible threat described in Psalm 83, the nation did survive. God did indeed hear the prayer of the Psalmist.
Later, due to their repeated unfaithfulness, Israel would face the judgment of God through the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and the exile of the people. But, a remnant would return. God’s promise to Abraham, to Moses, and to David was upheld. From Israel would come the one person that would set into motion the last stage of God’s great Plan of Redemption.
The New Testament, and the history of the early church after the time of the Apostles, describes opposition, persecution, and death for Christians. But the greater the efforts of Rome, the stronger the Church became. The entire Book of Revelation declared to Christians, then and now, that the Church WILL SURVIVE. No matter how strong the enemies may be, no matter how harsh persecution may be, God is on His throne, His Son Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church, God’s children will find peace, and those enemies will be destroyed.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:12-18, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Today, forces still gather to “conspire together with one mind. Against “You they make a covenant.” Organized campaigns are aggressively pursuing objectives to undermine the teachings of the Bible. The enemies are almost too numerous to count, and their power seems unstoppable. But all Christians would do well to remember that God is in charge. God’s plan is being carried out. The Church will survive. Evil will not prevail. The promise of eternal life does stand and each faithful Christian will reach the goal.
Shortly before Paul was executed, he wrote to Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is aid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” <James Shelburn>