Psalms For Life
Looking for content on a specific topic?
Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 83

Seeking God’s salvation

Like the ancient Israelites, the Church today is up against great odds—attacked by the media, entertainment industry and secular educators in a sex-saturated, materialistic society with no moral compass.

An Asaph psalm.

God, don’t stay mute on me!
Don’t sit there voiceless—
don’t hold back, silent, God!
2 See what an uproar your enemies are in
how those who hate you
rear their heads in revolt.
3 Making cunning plans against your people
conspiring against those you treasure
4 they say, “Come on!
Let’s obliterate them as a nation
until the very name of Israel is forgotten!”
5 With that one goal in mind
they’ve formed an alliance against you.
6 Edomites, Ishmaelites, Moabites, Hagrites
7 together with the people of Byblos
Ammon, Amalek, Philistia and Tyre.
8 Assyria has joined in too
as the powerhouse
behind Lot’s descendants.

9 Deal with them
as you did the Midianites—
Sisera and Jabin at the Wadi Kishon
10 destroyed at Endor
and left lying on the ground like dung.
11 Treat their generals like Oreb and Zeeb
all their leaders like Zebah and Zalmunna
12 who said, “Let’s take possession
of God’s pasturelands!”
13 My God, make them like tumbleweed
like stubble in the wind.
14 Like a wildfire devouring the forest
an inferno that sets mountains ablaze
15 pursue them with your hurricane
and terrify them with your tempest.
16 Cover their faces with shame
so they call on your name, YHWH.
17 May shame and panic be their constant lot
until they disband disgraced.
18 May they acknowledge that you alone
whose name is YHWH
reign supreme over all the earth.

The psalmist urges a silent God to speak and act against an international mob in uproar, God-haters engaged in a genocidal war against his people. The word “cunning” implies that these enemies are the descendants of the Serpent (Gen. 3:1). While the nations listed encircled Israel and often threatened its existence, this particular alliance matches nothing recorded elsewhere in biblical history. The reference to Lot’s descendants—Moabites and Ammonites—makes the alliance more bitter since the Israelites had tried to honor these peoples, their relatives through Abraham, just as Abraham had honored his grasping nephew Lot. And Israel was not allowed to take land from the Edomites, Moabites, or Ammonites, suggesting that their attacks on the Israel were unprovoked.

The psalm’s second half mentions events in which God gave the Israelites resounding victories over oppressive nations, despite Israel’s extreme vulnerability. The psalmist hyperbolically seeks a rout so complete the vanquished army won’t even be able to bury their dead. Because like the enemies mentioned, this current alliance is treating God and his people with utter contempt.

Facing such an existential threat, the psalmist asks God to crush those hellbent on destroying Israel, to chase them hard enough that they’re left panic-stricken and disgraced, their alliance destroyed. The surprising twist comes in the psalmist’s request not that these nations be obliterated, but rather that, acknowledging God’s supremacy, they seek the mercy he’s well known for and serve him too. That is, that God’s judgment would bring the nations to know and serve him too.

Lord, while we’re not fighting for our lives, we similarly find our faith attacked on every hand. Yet you reign supreme. Turn us back to you, O God our savior. And show your enemies that you’re sovereign over all so they humbly seek your grace. Amen.

During your free moments today, pray this prayer:

May the nations acknowledge that you alone
whose name is YHWH
reign supreme over all the earth.


Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.