Psalm 83

June 03, 2021

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;

15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.

16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.

17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:

18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. 

The Point: 

We pray that God will destroy the enemies of His church.  

How do we feel in the recitation of this psalm? 

We feel as if we are in a city that is under siege. The crushing feeling of impending doom hovers over us. The enemies are fierce and formidable. Weary day after weary night, the siege continues. In such a case, what is there to do but to cry out to God for deliverance? Some are uncomfortable with the prayer, “Oh, God, destroy these enemies that have come out against us!” But what other prayer could be prayed under such circumstances? Considering the potential damage these enemies could bring upon our loved ones, we cry out in desperation to God for His mercy and protection. 

Moreover, if the inhabitants of this city are really a special group of people in relationship with God Himself, wouldn’t it be a terrible affront to God if enemies attacked the city? Fathers who love their families will fight for them. You would think that God would do the same for us!

What does this psalm teach us? 

Verses 1–8. From the outset, the psalmist is most concerned about the enemies of God. They express their antipathy towards God by setting themselves in opposition to His covenant people.

Would the Apostles in the New Testament read this psalm and find application in the early church? In the words of Hebrews 12:22, we have also come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem which is the “church of the first born.” Also, passages like Hebrews 8:10 refer to those who are included in the better covenant with Christ as the people of God. In reference to the terms of the Abrahamic covenant in 2 Corinthians 6:17, Paul also conveys these same promises to a little church in Corinth. The Apostle quotes God’s Word to His people in the Old Testament as he writes, “They shall be my people. I shall be with them and dwell in them.” Also, the Apostle Peter speaks of those who have embraced Jesus Christ as the people of God (1 Pet. 2:10). Then finally, the church in the consummated kingdom of God is presented as both the bride of Christ and the covenant people of God in Revelation 21:1–4.

Now do you see how this psalm has a relevant message for our own situation? The enemies of the church of Christ are very real, and they take “crafty counsel” against the precious people of God. At this point, they have “lifted up the head,” a figure of speech that suggests that the wicked have gained the upper hand in the conflict. As Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, our enemies are not mere flesh and blood, but principalities and powers; the flesh within, the prince of the power of the air, divisive spirits, deceptive heresies, and persecuting powers all work to tear apart the church of Christ. To make matters even worse, they conspire together against God’s people. The world plays on the flesh. Sometimes the devil uses believers to his own ends. Our Lord noted this in the life of Peter, and still today the devil will sift our brothers like wheat in an effort to impair the body of Christ. Make no mistake about it. The church of Jesus Christ continually faces ferocious opposition from the powers of evil.

Verses 9–18. Now the psalmist calls for a complete annihilation of these enemies. He proposes a total demise in the tradition of Sisera, whose death was sealed by a large tent peg pounded through his head, or like Zeeb and Oreb who lost their heads to the men of Gideon. There was no going back for these men who had set themselves against the people of God. Their end was sealed.

Very often in the psalms, the wicked are compared to dust in the wind or a “wheel” or “tumbleweed” that quickly blows away. Despite the evil wrought by men who oppose God’s people, the powers of these evil men quickly dissipate. For the brief period that they employ their persecutions, the church really suffers. But looking back at these wicked men some 30–40 years later, we are amazed at the brevity of their lives and the severity of their end. Even the persecutions of Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania lasted a mere 30 years before he was executed on Christmas day of 1989. The true church of Christ is gaining a foothold in Russia today after the quick demise of men like Stalin and Lenin. Inevitably, the church emerges from these persecutions stronger for the wear, while those who tormented the church rot in the grave. 

The imprecatory pleas of the psalm are moderated somewhat in verse 16 as the psalmist prays that these men would lose nerve in their persecuting zeal and be reduced to shame. Then he takes the prayer a step further. He prays that in their humiliation they would begin to seek God Himself and be found of Him! 

However, in the case that they do not repent, Asaph continues to pray for their ultimate destruction.

The final verse proclaims the purpose of their destruction: all of this must come about for the glory of God! In the end, all men must know that God is absolutely sovereign over the entire world, and nobody or nothing will ever counter His purposes. Whether in this life or in the life to come, every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ as sovereign King!

How do we apply this psalm?

If you do not consider the church of Jesus Christ and the relationships between brothers and sisters in the church to be very important, you will not fully appreciate the passionate pleas contained in this psalm. The psalmist has a vested interest in the church, the assembled people of God. The church does take the brunt of many attacks and will continue to feel these attacks over the years. Are we going to sit on the sidelines and watch the church get torn apart by heresies, gossip, or bitter feelings? Certainly such psalms as these should encourage us to cry out for God’s intervention.

How does this psalm teach us to worship God?

Occasionally, worship calls for the severe imprecatory prayers that we find in this psalm. While these words should not come from hearts that are filled with hateful bitterness or vengeance against our persecutors, they should come from a love for God’s honor and the precious church of Christ. Remember that it was the same Jesus Who spoke out strongly against the Pharisees and Sadducees but cried out at the end of His horrible passion, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


1. Who are the people of God now? Who were the people of God in the Old Testament?

2. Who were Zeeb and Oreb? Who was Sisera and what happened to him?

3. What sort of opposition does the church of Jesus Christ face today?

4. What does the psalmist want to happen to the persecutors of the people of God?

5. Give several examples of Imprecatory Psalms. 

Family Discussion Questions:

1. Do we love the church of Jesus Christ such that we would pray this prayer with the appropriate passion? In what ways is the church under attack in the present day (in our situation)?

2. How can we pray a prayer like this one without hating those who persecute us