The apostle Paul was under attack. He had been arrested on the false charge that he had brought a Gentile into the Temple in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27–29). A group of Jewish leaders had had enough of Paul. They made a pact that they would not eat or drink until they had killed him (Acts 23:21). Paul’s nephew heard about the plot and warned Paul who was able to convince his Roman jailers to get him to safety. Because of this deliverance, Paul was able to continue his ministry in prison writing the books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.
In today’s reading, the nation of Israel found itself in a similar situation. A group of ten nations had formed an alliance against Israel (Ps. 83:5). The word “alliance” is the term normally translated as “covenant.” These nations covenanted that they would destroy Israel “so that Israel’s name is remembered no more” (v. 4). But God had also made a covenant with Israel that they would be a blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:1–3) and that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore (Gen. 15:5; 22:17). Would the covenant of the nations undo God’s covenant with Israel?
The Psalmist prays fervently that God would intervene and bring deliverance. He asks God not to be silent or aloof (v. 1). He reminds God that these enemies are God’s enemies, trying to undo God’s promises to Israel (Ps. 83:2–3). He asks God to defeat them just like He had in the past (vv. 9–12). God had bigger plans for these nations than simply their destruction. He prays that the nations would seek after God and come to know Him (vv. 16, 18).
>> This psalm is a beautiful reminder that God will keep His promises and that, even in judgment, He desires that all people would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
It is natural for us to crave vengeance against those who wrong us. God of justice, teach us to love our enemies so that, like Asaph, we are driven to intercede even for those who oppose us.