Enemies All Round Us!

Psalm 83

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 83


Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

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Jesus said, "I am sending you like sheep into a group of wolves. So, be as clever as snakes but, like the dove, do not hurt anybody" (Matthew 10: 16). (A wolf is a wild animal that eats sheep; a dove is a bird that does not hurt anyone.)

Psalm 83

  (This) psalm (is) a song for *Asaph.

v1   God, do not seem to be asleep!
  Do not remain quiet and do nothing, God!

v2   For look, your enemies are (all) doing something.
  The people that hate you are getting ready (to fight you).

v3   They are making clever *plans against your people.
  They are deciding together what to do with those people that you love.

v4   They are saying, "Come on, we will destroy their country.
  Then nobody will ever remember the name of Israel".

v5   They are deciding together what to do.
  They are agreeing to do something against you.

v6 - v7   The people (doing this are) from:
  ·   Edom and the Ishmaelites
  ·   Moab and the Hagrites
  ·   Gebal, Ammon and Amalek
  ·   Philistia and Tyre

v8   Even Assyria has joined them.
  They have made the sons of Lot (Moab and Ammon) strong.   *SELAH

v9   Do to them what you did to Midian
  and to Sisera and Jabin at the River Kishon.

v10   They died at Endor
  and they became *like dirt on the ground.

v11   Make their leaders *like Oreb and Zeeb.
  (Make) all their *princes *like Zebah and Zalmunna.

v12   They said, "Let us take all the country that belongs to God".

v13   God, blow them away *like *chaff in the wind!

v14   As fire burns a forest and *lights the mountains,
  so they are on fire.

v15   Go after them with bad weather
  and frighten them a lot with your storms.

v16   Make their faces ashamed
  so that they will look for your name, *LORD.

v17   Let them always be ashamed and very frightened.
  Let them become so ashamed that then they die!

v18   Then they will know that your name is *LORD.
  And (they will know that) you are the *Most High over all the earth.

The Story of Psalm 83

Bible students do not agree when the *psalmist wrote Psalm 83. In verses 6-8 is a list of the enemies of Israel. Because they were enemies of Israel, they were also enemies of God. This was true when the *psalmist wrote the psalm, but it is not necessary that it is true today. The problem is this: not all these people were enemies of Israel at the same time. Some were enemies 800 B.C., some 600 B.C., some 400 B.C. (B.C. means "years Before Christ came to the earth".) So, some Bible students think that Psalm 83 comes from 800 B.C., some from 600 B.C., and some from 400 B.C. Maybe we shall never know who is right!

The *psalmist tells us that this is "a song for *Asaph". A psalm is words with music, or a song. *Asaph was the name of a group of singers. *Asaph lived about 1000 BC, but his singers continued for many centuries. So, any of the Bible students could be right about the date of Psalm 83!

What Psalm 83 means

Study the psalm in two parts:

  ·   Verses 1 – 8:  what the enemies of God and Israel are doing

  ·   Verses 9 – 18: what the *psalmist wants (prays that) God will do

In verses 1 - 2, the *psalmist says that God seems to be doing nothing while his enemies are getting ready to fight him. They fight God by fighting his people Israel. They want everybody to forget that there ever was an Israel, verse 4! Verses 6 - 8 tell us who these enemies are. Some are to the east, *like Moab. Some are to the west *like Philistia. Some are to the south and some are to the north. We are not sure who the Hagrites and Gebal were. The important thing is this: the enemies were all round Israel! In verse 8, "the sons of Lot" means the countries that his children started.

In verses 9 - 12,we read about people that God destroyed. Gideon destroyed Midian; the story is in Judges 6-8. Oreb and Zeeb were *princes of Midian. People from Ephraim killed them, the story is in Judges 7:24-25. Ephraim was one of the *tribes of Israel. Gideon killed Zebah and Zalmunna in Judges 8:21. They were kings of Midian. Sisera and Jabin come from another story, in Judges 4:1-24. Jabin was king of Hazor. Sisera was the leader of his army. A woman (Jael) killed Sisera as he hid in her *tent. Two *judges (leaders) of Israel destroyed Jabin’s army at the River Kishon. In verse 14, "lights the mountains" means "makes a fire on the mountains". Bible students are not sure what verses 16 - 18 mean. Some think that it means that the *psalmist wants God to destroy his enemies as he destroyed Midian. Other Bible students think that it means that the *psalmist wants them to be sorry and believe in God. The name *LORD is the *covenant name of God. It is the name people use who agree with God and who want to obey him.

Something to do

1.  Pray that God’s enemies will start to love him. Do this when they do something bad.

2.  If you have a Bible, read about Barak and Deborah (Judges 4-5) and Gideon (Judges 6-8).

3.  If you have a Bible map, look for the places in verses 6-8 of this psalm.

Word List

Adonai ~ *Lord or master; (or better, my *Lord or my master) in *Hebrew.

Asaph ~ look in the Introduction to the Psalms of David Book 3.

chaff ~ dead part of a plant round the seed.

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the covenant.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when they wrote the Psalms of David.

Jehovah ~ how some languages say *Yahweh, one of the names of God in *Hebrew.

Jew ~ someone who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

judge ~ say who is right and who is wrong; or, the person that says who is right and who is wrong.

lights ~ (in Psalm 83:14) makes a fire (on the mountains).

like ~ another word for ‘as’.

Lord ~ a name for God; it means he has authority, or 'master'; *Adonai in *Hebrew. Look also at *LORD below.

LORD ~ a special name for God that his people use. It is the *covenant name of God. In *Hebrew it is *Yahweh or *Jehovah. Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the names of God.

Most High ~ a name for God.

plans ~ thoughts about what to do.

prince ~ son of a king.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).

SELAH ~ a place to pray or think or make music.

tent ~ a home or building made from animal skins.

tribe ~ a large group of people from the same family.

Yahweh ~ the *covenant name for God. Most Bibles translate it *LORD with 4 capital letters. It means something *like ‘I am’ or ‘always alive’.


© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

January 2002

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