Let Them Know You Are God

Psalm 83

More than 60x in prophets, word “remnant” used – a “small, remaining part” of the original. Often refers to part of the whole who remained faithful to God while majority turned away to trust in other things. Apostle Paul also spoke of New Testament saints in same way: the “remnant according to the election of grace”. (Rom. 11:5) In Elijah’s day, God put a number on size of the remnant, those who refused to worship Baal: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18)

How does that relate to our text? People of God have for centuries been a small minority, few in number compared to everyone else. Simply being in the minority not automatically a problem; can even be an advantage at times. But there’s a complication – obviously it’s about more than just numbers. The Protoevangelion, first Gospel or announcement of good news, begins with what sounds like bad news:

Gen. 3:15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

It’s not only that there are more of “them” than “us”, by God’s design and decree there ongoing active hostility between Satan’s kingdom and Christ’s kingdom. Battle lines were drawn under the tree in the Garden, extend to the tree on Calvary. Hostility between world and church always present, varies in intensity. May experience temporary reprieve, but no truce in this life. Much of the time, battle is raging, Satan and allies waging active warfare against Christ and his people. Began with Cain and Abel, continues to this day.

Satan constantly plotting, orchestrating, developing strategies, bringing his allies together to mount an attack when people of God seem vulnerable. If he can completely surround the opposition, will close the net, completely crush God’s people. That is situation described in our text – Israel surrounded by sworn enemies, some of very long standing, now allied together with one goal in view. Their plan (Satan’s plan): completely wipe them out. Under leadership of music director, they cry out to God for his help.

They begin with an urgent request for God’s intervention; they give a compelling reason for God to help them; they explain what they desire for a result and end by stating their rationale, why they want God to act.

A. urgent request v.1-4

3 parallel ways of saying: don’t be unmoved by the plight of your people (1)

demı̂y 438 (silent) chârash 760/761 (unresponsive) shâqaṭ 2453 (inactive)

only action seemed to be happening on the enemy side, rapidly building up to a crisis; no word from God, no sign he was planning to act any time soon

people plead with God, importunately, insistently – speak a word in our defense, respond to our need, act on our behalf

“Why should He who is Almighty remain silent and inactive, when his people are in danger and his enemies apparently triumphant?” Alexander

appeal to the Creator-God who spoke things into existence – all he need do is speak, problem solved; problem is he’s not speaking!

deal with your enemies (2-3)

they’re our enemies but really your enemies, too – important concept in these 2 verses, parallels Paul in Eph 6:12

only 2 kingdoms – people of God, enemies of God; notice how it works: enemies can’t attack God so go for his people

it’s because they are enemies of God that they are enemies of his people, the church

don’t let them annihilate us (4)

enemies’ desire not simply to win military victory, even a decisive one; goal is to wipe out of existence and memory

B. compelling reason v.5-8

the enemies of Christ and his church have no trouble working together (5)

real alliance is against God; will do all in their power to obliterate anything that reminds them of God

in Asaph’s day – wipe out the people, replace the worship of true God with idols; in our day: there’s that in some places (N Korea, Sri Lanka, Nigeria); also ideological/cultural battles, replace the church with the state

Satan the lieutenant in charge, subjects follow willingly

that hasn’t changed: the one who got Sabeans and Chaldeans together against Job same one working behind the scenes with next 10 nations, and perpetrators of evil today

we could learn: if people of God worked together with one consent against kingdom of Satan, what would results be?!

should jointly be using right weapons against right target – the power of Gospel accompanied by Holy Spirit to take subjects away from Satan

we’re surrounded (6-8)

“it may be observed, that these were on all sides of the land of Israel; the Edomites, Ishmaelites, and Amalekites, were on the south; the Moabites, Ammonites, and Hagrites, were on the east; the Assyrians on the north; and the Philistines, Gebalites, and Tyrians, on the west: so that Israel was surrounded on all sides with enemies” Gill

ancient enemies of Israel – descendants of Esau and Ishmael, illegitimate sons of Lot, Hagar’s other children, Palestinians.

no specific time recorded in God’s Word when all 10 were allied against Israel; certainly at times felt that way, same is true for church in all ages

would not be last time in history church surrounded on all sides, having no allies; God had delivered before, would need to do so again, …and again

countless situations when God’s people would need reminding: “even the gates of hell would not overpower the church” – no power seen or unseen can stop God’s purpose

we’re outnumbered

cf. Deut. 7:7-8 – people God has chosen were smallest “people group” in God’s view from beginning; his true people just a subset, a remnant of that small people

that way on purpose: great size makes for great pride; church is to be dependent on God, not her own resources

we’re overwhelmed

not hard to believe or imagine: enemies on all sides, far superior numerically / technologically / militarily

whole point is to overwhelm, demoralize, minimize opposition, thoroughly destroy – if God fails to respond, situation is utterly hopeless; no one else has sufficient power to help

C. desired result v.9-15

do like you’ve done before (9-10)

repeatedly in Israel’s history God had used unexpected and surprising means to achieve victory for his people – these two references stand for all times God had come to aid of his people

hailstones that killed more than soldiers did (Josh. 10:11); Jael and her nail (Judg. 4:21); 300-person sound and light show

often God turned evil-doers on one another, confusing their plans and alliances so they work at cross purposes

humble them (11-12)

prayer is that God would treat current enemies as Midianite leaders were treated – death

before you get too exercised, consider their crime: high treason – “let us take for ourselves what belongs to God”

if death penalty is proper for crime against earthly ruler, treason against King of kings no less a crime

someone commits crime against a child, want the book thrown at them; crime against God, slap on the wrist? NOT

turn them to tumbleweeds (13)

make them so they get no traction, are powerless to carry out their evil designs; demonstrate their plans are empty, blown about to no useful purpose

show them who is in charge (14-15)

even today with all technology we have, cannot control wildfires at will; have every appearance at times of being unstoppable – God, demonstrate that kind of power to your enemies, that you can drive them where you will

D. important rationale v.16-18

man’s conversion (16)

“seek your name”

important principle here: not the proud and confident who seek God and are converted; it’s the demoralized, defeated, disgraced and disappointed who see God as their only hope

not a vengeful request that personal enemies be humiliated so we can gloat; actually a merciful prayer – that God would do what is most effective to break down hostility toward him, ultimately bringing enemies from Satan’s kingdom into that of his dear Son, Lord Jesus

God’s glory

“know that you alone are most high”

those hardened against God, who remain that way, only further hardened in their humiliation; yet in their destruction will, albeit grudgingly, acknowledge that God is in charge – “the Sovereign King over all the earth”

Micah communicated God’s priorities to his audience: Mic. 6:8He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

God is glorified when his perfect justice is displayed and when he shows mercy

“we can never be more confident of the destruction of our enemies, and of our own deliverance, than when these tend to promote the exaltation and the glory of God.” Hengstenberg

So what about us, 21st century Christians, how should we respond when there are serious threats to Christ’s church? Should we sing this psalm? Can we pray this prayer? Especially when Jesus said “love your enemies”?

Yes, we can and should pray that God will preserve his people and subdue his enemies. God can be trusted to do what is right, he doesn’t make mistakes, God will do what will bring himself the most glory. When God’s people sing and praise and pray, he responds, sometimes with startling results. See 2 Chron 20:20-24

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