Some debate whether Psalm 83 is a prophetic text or some other form of literature. Others believe this is more than just a prophecy, but one which will see fulfillment in the very near future. The situation in the Middle East certainly appears to be set for a big showdown soon! Psalm 83 can be broken down into many talking points, but for this blog we want to ask whether or not this is a prophecy that is relevant to us today.
The Psalms are often described as poems and this is certainly true. Many verses in the 150 chapters describe circumstances we face in everyday life – these Psalms can become excellent and comforting prayers that give us strength through struggles. But are any of these prophetic? Psalm 22 is undoubtedly a prophecy in which Jesus’ crucifixion is described from a “first-person” viewpoint many hundreds of years before the event. There are also other examples of prophetic Psalms so Psalm 83 would not be unique in being a prophetic psalm.
But there are other issues and viewpoints surrounding this Psalm. There are arguments against this being a future prophecy or even a prophetic passage at all, such as:
- Already been fulfilled in either 2 Chronicles 20, or in Israel’s Modern Day Wars
- The Psalm is not prophetic, it is just a cry out by Asaph with no future implications
- God does not reply in Psalm 83 so it cannot be a prophecy
So, who wrote this Psalm? Psalm 83 was written by a man named Asaph over three thousand years ago. In 2 Chronicles we told that Asaph was a “seer”:
Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped. (2 Chronicles 29:30, emphasis added)
According to Strong’s concordance the Hebrew word for seer “chozeh” means:
Asaph the seer, as his title suggests, was gifted with prophetic visions which certainly gives credibility to the view that any of his writing could be describing future events.
The main way that Psalm 83 stands out is that Asaph lists a very specific set of nations or groups of people. Ten nations are named who, it says, will confederate together against Israel:
For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. (Psalm 83:5-8)
All of these have historically been Israel’s closest enemies and are the same neighbours that surround Israel today! Asaph even quotes the enemies words:
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 83:4)
This could easily be mistaken for a quote in a recent news report! Israel is constantly subjected to threats from neighbours who want to destroy them and wipe out their existence. Some have even removed Israel from their maps! Attacks against Israelis such as rockets being fired into Israel territory are now a common occurrence often ignored by the Western media. Oppressive political pressure, false accusations and double standards are routinely applied to Israel by Western governments whilst blatantly ignoring much worse behaviour by the very nations listed in this Psalm.
The nations listed in the Psalm can be traced with their modern counterparts, which are shown below:
|tabernacles of Edom
|Southern Jordan & Palestinians
|Central Jordan & Palestinians
|Northern Lebanon (Hezbollah)
|Northern Jordan & Palestinians
|Gaza Strip (Hamas)
|inhabitants of Tyre
|Southern Lebanon (Hezbollah)
|Syria and Northern Iraq
What is clear, this Psalm is very specific and no conflict involving all the nations listed above has ever historically happened – this includes 2 Chronicles 20 and the more recent conflicts. Although they appear similar, closer inspection shows not every nation involved matches Psalm 83 and clearly the outcome was not the same as that which is detailed in the Psalm! We do not believe God vaguely fulfils prophecy – we believe that God precisely fulfills prophecy to the finest details.
Aside from the specific nations listed, Psalm 83 is more that just a poem, it is a passionate cry out to God in the form an imprecatory prayer. One definition of “imprecatory” has “To invoke evil upon; curse”, Asaph was calling upon the promise similar to Genesis 12:3 to curse the nations that curse Israel. Asaph wanted action taken against the Israel’s evil enemies.
Arguments can be made on both sides for this Psalm and most will continue to stand firm to their current understanding. Bible prophecy is never fully understood until fulfilled so although we may speculate on how prophecies may fit together in a certain way or believe we understand the precise details of a single prophecy, we can never be sure.
Most Bible scholars would agree that the Ezekiel 38/39 battle is a prophecy and still future. The players in this battle look to be in place, but as Ezekiel 38:11 says, Israel needs to be living safely. Israel is currently anything but safe! Something dramatic needs to happen to bring in this safety as the surrounding neighbours are not going away – in fact, they are becoming more aggressive towards Israel. To say the Antichrist will bring this peace does not fit either, having Israel and their surrounding Arab nations make a peace agreement that results in Israel living without walls, or bars, or gates (Ezekiel 38:11) does not look realistic in the current climate.
We believe Psalm 83 is very relevant to us today, the current Middle East “peace” hangs on a knife’s edge with one small event being the catalyst to starts the domino effect off! The stage is set for an exact fulfilment of Psalm 83 with the outcome causing many other prophecies to fit into place. Although fulfilment of this prophecy will probably be achieved in a relatively quick time frame, it could also see the prophecies of Isaiah 17 and Isaiah 19 fulfilled during the same event. We will have to wait and see, possibly in the near future!
Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 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. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, 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 Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm 83)