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Psalm 83


God Implored to Confound His Enemies
MT Intro
A Song, A Psalm of Asaph
Prayer To Frustrate Conspiracy Against Israel Prayer for Deliverance From National Enemies Prayer for the Defeat of Israel's Enemies Against the Enemies of Israel
83:1-8 83:1-4 83:1-8 83:1-4 83:1-2
  83:5-8   83:5-8 83:5-8
83:9-12 83:9-12 83:9-12 83:9-12 83:9-12
83:13-18 83:13-18 8:13-18 83:13-18 83:13-18

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.



A. YHWH is intimately linked to His covenant people. The planning and scheming of the surrounding ANE nations to attack Israel, is a plan to attack Him (cf. Ps. 83:5 and note Ps. 83:12).

B. Several nations and people groups are mentioned.

1. Edom

2. Ishmaelites

3. Moab

4. Hagrites

5. Gebal

6. Ammon

7. Amalek

8. Philistia

9. Tyre (i.e., Phoenicia)

10. Assyria

11. Midian (Numbers 11-14 refer to events in Israel's past where YHWH helped them)

12. Sisera and Jabin

13. Oreb and Zech

14. Zebah and Zalmunna

C. This Psalm of prayer (5 imperatives) for the destruction of Israel's enemies is characterized by a large number of imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. Ps. 83:1 - two stated but three implied

2. Ps. 83:15-18 - six (possibly eight with Ps. 83:15)

D. This Psalm uses several names for Deity.

1. God, Ps. 83:1a, 12b - Elohim (BDB 43)

2. God, Ps. 83:16 - El (BDB 42)

3. God, Ps. 83:13a - Eloah (BDB 43)

4. Lord, Ps. 83:16b, 18a - YHWH (BDB 217)

5. Most High, Ps. 83:18b - Elyon (BDB 751)


E. This Psalm has a strong

1. evangelistic thrust (i.e., Ps. 83:16b, 18)

2. universal focus (Ps. 83:18b)



 1O God, do not remain quiet;
 Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
 2For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
 And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
 3They make shrewd plans against Your people,
 And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
 4They have said, "Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
 That the name of Israel be remembered no more."
 5For they have conspired together with one mind;
 Against You they make a covenant:
 6The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
 Moab and the Hagrites;
 7Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
 Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
 8Assyria also has joined with them;
 They have become a help to the children of Lot.  Selah.

83:1-8 This strophe describes the inappropriate activities of the surrounding nations. The psalmist requests that God act on Israel's behalf.

1. do not remain quiet - BDB 198, no verb but parallel to #2, #3

2. do not be silent - BDB 361, KB 357, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. Ps. 28:1; 35:22; 50:3; 109:1

3. do not be still (i.e., inactive) - BDB 1052, KB 1641, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

The fact that the surrounding nations planned and acted out their aggression (Ps. 83:2-8) caused the covenant people to wonder at YHWH's apparent inactivity.

Notice the activity of the surrounding nations.

1. make un uproar - BDB 242, KB 250, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 46:6 and very similar to Ps. 2:1-2

2. exalted themselves (lit. raised their heads) - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal perfect, cf. Jdgs. 8:28; Zech. 1:21

3. made shrewd plans - BDB 791, KB 886, Hiphil imperfect, only here in Hiphil in the OT

4. conspire together - BDB 419, KB 421, Hithpael imperfect, used in the sense of "determine" in 2 Chr. 30:23

a. come - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative

b. wipe them out - BDB 470, KB 469, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense, cf. Ps. 74:8

c. that the name of Israel be remembered no more - BDB 269, KB 269, Niphal imperfect, which is an idiom for total destruction and death

The conclusion to this list is stated in Ps. 83:5. An attack on Israel is an attack on YHWH, cf. Ps. 83:2; Ps. 2:2; 74:18,23.

83:3 "Your people. . .Your treasured ones" The second expression (BDB 860, KB 1049, Qal passive participle) has two possible connotations in BDB.

1. treasured (JPSOA), cf. Exod. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18

2. hidden with God, cf. Ps. 27:5; 31:21

The NKJV has "sheltered ones" (#2), while NJB has "those you cherish" (#1).

83:4b "the name of Israel" This is a way of referring to the nation (cf. Ps. 83:4a).

For the meaning of the name "Israel" see Special Topic: Israel (the Name).

83:5 "covenant" See Special Topic: Covenant.

83:6 "tents of. . ." This is an idiomatic anachronism of when Israel lived in "tents," but at this period most of them lived in cities and villages with more permanent housing.

The other possibility is that it is idiomatic for a nation (cf. Ps. 74:51; 120:5).

AB (p. 274) mentions a scroll fragment found at Masada that has "the gods of Edom. . ." This fits well with the imagery of "arm" in Ps. 83:8. It would also link up well with the national angels of Psalm 82. AB lists Yigael Yardin, Israel Exploration Journal, 15 (1965), 104, as the place to see the phrase.

▣ "Edom"


▣ "Ishmaelites" This refers to the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's first child by Hagar (cf. Gen. 25:12-16). They became the Arab tribes.

▣ "Moab" This is one of the two nations descended from Lot and his daughters (cf. Gen. 19:30-38, esp. Ps. 83:37).

▣ "Hagrites" This is a tribe from Ishmael mentioned in 1 Chr. 5:10,18-22. The name may come from "Hagar," Ishmael's Egyptian mother. They lived to the east of Canaan and some parts of the tribe, more to the southeast.

83:7 "Gebal" This name (BDB 148, KB 174) can have two possible references.

1. from the word for "mountain," may refer to an area in the trans-Jordan area near Petra, thereby connected to Arab tribe

2. from the name of an old Phoenician coastal city and, therefore, would parallel Tyre (Ps. 83:7b), later known as Byblos


▣ "Ammon" See notes on Moab, Ps. 83:6.

▣ "Amalek" A descendant of Esau, who became chief in Edom (cf. Gen. 30:15-16). They were especially problematic to Israel during the wilderness wandering period (cf. Exod. 17:8-16; Num. 24:20; Deut. 25:12-19. Saul was commanded to destroy them (cf. 1 Samuel 15).

▣ "Philistia" The Philistines were apparently Greeks from the Aegean Islands. They were the only group of people in this part of the world who were uncircumcized. They were apparently a mercenary force who tried to attack Egypt in the twelfth century b.c. but were defeated. They then settled on the southern coast of Palestine. They had five major cities which are delineated in Jos.13:3: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gad, and Ekron. They were a major military problem throughout the period of the judges and even throughout the reign of Saul and David. The name "Palestine" comes from the word "Philistine."

▣ "Tyre" This is the famous seaport of the Phoenician Empire north of Israel. The older capital was "Sidon" (and possibly older than that, Gebal).

▣ "Assyria" This was a major empire of the Tigris/Euphrates. It became powerful in about the middle 900's b.c. to 609 b.c., when the capital of Nineveh fell (Nahum). See Special Topic: Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylon, Persia).

The mentioning of Assyria and not Babylon is a hint of the date this Psalm was written.

83:8 The Assyrians had become a help (lit. "arm") for the trans-Jordan nations that descended from Lot and his two daughters (cf. Gen. 19:30-38).

1. Moab

2. Ammon


▣ "Selah" See notes at Psalm 3:2.

 9Deal with them as with Midian,
 As with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of Kishon,
 10Who were destroyed at En-dor,
 Who became as dung for the ground.
 11Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb
 And all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
 12Who said, "Let us possess for ourselves
 The pastures of God."

83:9-12 This strophe reminds the current Israelites of YHWH's presence and help in the past when invaders plotted to take Israel's land.

1. as with Midian - Jdgs. 7:22

2. Sisera and Jabin - Jdgs. 4:22-23

3. Oreb and Zeeb - Jdgs. 7:25

4. Zebah and Zalmunna - Jdgs. 8:21


83:10 "as dung for the ground" This refers to the huge number of dead bodies after a battle. The prospect of being improperly buried or eaten by animals would terrify ANE people (cf. 2 Kgs. 9:37; Ps. 79:2-3; Jer. 8:2; 22:19; 36:30). This was a curse formula!

▣ "En-dor" This location is mentioned in Saul's day but not in the book of Judges. The NEB changes it to En-harod, which is mentioned in Jdgs. 7:1 and fits with the historical allusions of Ps. 83:9-11 (i.e., Judges 4-8). The UBS Text Project (p. 341) gives En-dor an "A" rating and rejects the emendation. Though not mentioned by name, it is still in the general area (cf. Jos. 17:11).

 13O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
 Like chaff before the wind.
 14Like fire that burns the forest
 And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire,
 15So pursue them with Your tempest
 And terrify them with Your storm.
 16Fill their faces with dishonor,
 That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
 17Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever,
 And let them be humiliated and perish,
 18That they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord,
 Are the Most High over all the earth.

83:13-18 This strophe is a prayer for YHWH to act in judgment on Israel's behalf.

1. make them - BDB 1011, KB 1483, Qal imperative

a. like whirling dust, cf. Isa. 17:13; 29:5; 41:15-16

b. like chaff before the wind, cf. Isa. 17:13

c. like fire that burns the forest

d. like a flame that sets the mountains on fire

2. pursue them - BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. terrify them - BDB 96, KB 111, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. fill their faces with dishonor - BDB 569, KB 583, Piel imperative

5. let them be ashamed - BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

6. let them be dismayed - BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal imperfect used in a jussive sense

7. let them be humiliated - BDB 344, KB 340, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

8. let them perish - BDB 1, KB 2, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

There are two more which show the intended purpose of judgment, which is to help the nations come to worship YHWH (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan).

1. that they may seek Your name, O YHWH - BDB134, KB 152, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense (Ps. 83:16)

2. that they may know that You alone are the Most High over all the earth - BDB 393, KB 390, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (Ps. 83:17)


83:17 Notice the parallelism between "forever" and "persists." These reflect on Ps. 83:4, where the nations wanted Israel to cease to exist!

83:18 "over all the earth" This universal element is common in the Psalms of Asaph! It is the obvious necessary conclusion to monotheism (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Does this Psalm reflect a historical invasion by a coalition of nations or historical imagery?

2. How does Ps. 83:1 reflect the fear and confusion of Israel?

3. How are Ps. 83:4-5 related to YHWH's larger redemptive plan? Is there a Satanic attempt to thwart God's redemptive activity?