Psalm 83─An Imprecatory Prayer For God’s Victory over Israel’s Enemies


By Dr. F. Kenton Beshore

 

There are several imprecatory prayers in Psalms – 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 109, 137 and 140. All of them except Psalms 83 and 137 are prayers of David for God to judge his enemies. Psalm 137 is a prayer for God to judge Edom, and Psalm 83 is a prayer for God to judge the enemies of Israel; Edom (Southern Jordanians), the Ishmaelites (Saudi Arabians), Moab (Central Jordanians), Hagarites (Egyptians), Gebal (Northern Lebanese), Ammon (Northern Jordanians), Amalek (Arabs south of Israel), Philistines (Palestinians of Gaza), inhabitants of Tyre (Southern Lebanese) and Assyria (Syria).

A song. A Psalm of Asaph.

83:1 O God, keep not thou silence:

Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

83:2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult;

And they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

83:3 They take crafty counsel against thy people,

And consult together against thy hidden ones.

83:4 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.

83:5 For they have consulted together with one consent;

Against thee do they make a covenant:

83:6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;

Moab, and the Hagarenes;

83:7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek;

Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre:

83:8 Assyria also is joined with them;

They have helped the children of Lot.

Selah

83:9 Do thou unto them as unto Midian,

As to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the river Kishon;

83:10 Who perished at Endor,

Who became as dung for the earth.

83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb;

Yea, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna;

83:12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves in possession

The habitations of God.

83:13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust;

As stubble before the wind.

83:14 As the fire that burneth the forest,

And as the flame that setteth the mountains on fire,

83:15 So pursue them with thy tempest,

And terrify them with thy storm.

83:16 Fill their faces with confusion,

That they may seek thy name, O Jehovah.

83:17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed for ever;

Yea, let them be confounded and perish;

83:18 That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, Art

the Most High over all the earth. (American Standard Version)

 

According to this psalm a coalition of nations and peoples that hate God have made a covenant against God, and are conspiring against Israel to destroy her. Their desire is to cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. The covenant they have made is the acceptance of the religion of Islam. This conspiracy to destroy Israel has been going on since May 14, 1948.

This coalition of Arab and Islamic states and peoples will attack Israel along with Gog and Magog (Russia), Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), Put (Somaliland), Gomer (Germany) and Togarmah (Turkey) as prophesied by Ezekiel (38:1, 5-6). This war is described in detail in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16. Psalm 83 is not a description of a different war between the Arab/Islamic nations and Israel.

Instead God will answer that imprecatory prayer by defeating the nations noted above when they attack Israel prior to the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. Their destruction will be so spectacular that everyone will understand that they were defeated by God Himself rather than by the Israeli Defense Forces:

“And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel” (Ezekiel 39:6-7).

God declares that He alone destroys the enemies of Israel when they attack her. He says that He will pour out His wrath upon them with an earthquake so great that the “mountains shall be thrown down” (Ezekiel 38:19-20). Then He will cause the enemy forces to kill each other (Ezekiel 38:21) and He will send “pestilence” on them. He will finish them off with “great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:22).

God says that after He destroys the enemies of Israel He “will magnify” Himself, and sanctify” Himself, and He will make” Himself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that He is Jehovah” (Ezekiel 38:23). He then says:

“And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel” (Ezekiel 39:6-7).

The Exodus will pale in comparison to what will happen in the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39. God’s new historic identity, “the Lord who lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north” is based on Jeremiah 16:14-15:

“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that it shall no more be said, As Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries whither he had driven them. And I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.”

The similarities between the War of Gog/Magog (Ezekiel 38-39) and the prayer of Psalm 83 clearly show that Psalm 83 is a prayer for the fulfillment of the Gog/Magog War. Psalm 83:9 requests that the enemies be killed as the Midianites were by God who caused them to kill each other (Judges 7:22).

The Russian coalition will also be killed by God in this manner (Ezekiel 38:21). In Psalm 83:14 a request is made that the enemies be destroyed by fire and the Russian-led coalition will be destroyed in that manner (Ezekiel 38:22).

Other ideas regarding the meaning of Psalm 83 have gained traction in recent years. Some are teaching that it is a prophecy of a future battle that describes a war other than the one of Ezekiel 38:1-39:16. In this war the enemies of Israel will be defeated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) rather than by God Himself.

They would then receive the credit for defeating the coalition of Arab and Islamic nations that surround Israel. Psalm 83 does not say the “exceedingly great army” of Israel will be responsible for the destruction of her enemies. Instead it says that God destroys Israel’s enemies:

“That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, Art the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)

The imprecatory prayer is to God requesting that He destroy the enemies of Israel. It is not a prayer that God give Israel victory over her enemies in battle.

An argument to support the belief that Psalm 83 is a battle that takes place previous to the battle of Gog/Magog is based on Ezekiel 38:10-12a:

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: It shall come to pass in that day, that things shall come into thy mind, and thou shalt devise an evil device: and thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates; to take the spoil and to take the prey.”

Some argue that the Russian-led coalition comes to Israel to take “the spoil and to take the prey” that Israel has taken from the Psalm 83 confederacy. The destruction of Edom, Moab and Ammon, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia will take place before the Battle of Gog/Magog according to this hypothesis.

Why? Because Israel must be so rich with plunder that Russia and its allies become envious. Those who teach the Psalm 83 hypothesis believe that Israel will take possession of all of these lands, and be in control of them by its “exceedingly great army.”

Scripture does not say Russia and its allies decide to attack Israel, a people who “are at rest” and dwelling in a state of security (betach), in order to take “spoil” and “prey” from Israel. It is the Western nations who ask, “Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

The truth is God compels Russia and her allies to attack Israel. He does this because of Israel’s unfaithfulness and disbelief in Jesus Christ. He says:

I will turn thee about, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army,” and “I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes,” and “I will magnify myself, and sanctify myself, and I will make myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am Jehovah,” and “my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel,” and “it shall be to them a renown in the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord Jehovah,” and “So the house of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God, from that day and forward” (Ezekiel 38:4, 16, 23; 39:7, 13, 22).

By bringing Russia and her allies against Israel when they are at rest and living in security (betach), and then destroying them by Himself without assistance from Israel’s army, God proves who He is to Israel and the entire world. We must remember that everything that the Gentile nations do in regard to Israel is according to the purpose of God as stated by Daniel, Solomon and John:

The Most High God ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that he setteth up over it whomsoever he will. (Daniel 5:21)

“The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

“For God did put in their hearts to do his mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished” (Revelation 17:17).

The destruction of Russia and her allies is the first stage of the conversion of Israel. It takes place before the start of the Tribulation as Joel prophesied:

“That I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call” (Joel 2:28b-32, emphasis added, K.B.).

Notice it is clear that this passage takes place before the Day of Jehovah (Tribulation/Rapture) begins.

The second stage of the conversion of Israel is when the 144,000 witnesses are commissioned (Revelation 7:1-8), and the third stage is in the last 3 days of the Tribulation (Hosea 5:14-6:3) when all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

The destruction of Russia and its allies will also be the greatest opportunity for Christians to save the lost in the last 1900 years. In his 1972 book, The Beginning of the End, Timothy LaHaye stated:

If the magnifying and sanctifying of the Lord, as indicated in Ezekiel 38:16, 23 and 39:7, 13, 22 does indeed mean a short period of time when men call upon the Lord as a result of his miraculous preservation of Israel, then we should work diligently to prepare for it. Since we can expect the period to be brief, we should begin now to train ourselves and find positions of service where we can reach a maximum number of people with the gospel (p. 84).

One of the weakest arguments the proponents of the Psalm 83 hypothesis make is that the Church will not be on earth when Israel conquers her enemies. According to them the fullness of the Gentiles comes in when the church is raptured, and the alleged war of Psalm 83 takes place afterward.

This idea demands a gap between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. I show in Chapter 6 of my book, When? When Will the Rapture Take Place? that there is no gap between the Rapture and the Tribulation. The Bible clearly states the two events will take place on the same 24-hour day:

“They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27).

But in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29)

The apostle Paul also said there is no gap between the Rapture and the Tribulation:

“When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5.3-4)

There is a period of “peace and safety” just prior to the start of the Tribulation. Notice that Paul says to Christians of the Church Age that “ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day (Tribulation/Rapture) should overtake you as a thief.

The proponents of the Psalm 83 hypothesis clearly state that the alleged war of Psalm 83 will take place after the church has been raptured, and before the start of the Tribulation. If it takes place before the Tribulation starts it means the church will still be on earth, because the Rapture takes place on the day the Tribulation starts as shown in Luke 17:27, 29.

The only way they can keep their hypothesis alive is to prove there is a gap between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. That is impossible because the Bible does not allow it as shown above. The Lord Himself said there is no gap (Luke 17:27, 29), Paul said the same (1 Thessalonians 5:3-4), the early church fathers did not teach there is a gap, and the following prophecy teachers also confirmed there is no gap – Morgan Edwards, John Nelson Darby, John Walvoord, J. Vernon McGee, Harold Lindsell, Oliver Green, Dave Breese, J. Dwight Pentecost, Salem Kirban, Thomas Ice, Dave Hunt, Hilton Sutton and Perry Stone.

There are a few prophecy teachers who contend that the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel takes place during the Tribulation. This is not possible. The implements of the war are burned for 7 years. If it starts after the beginning of the Tribulation it would mean weapons of war will be burned into the millennial kingdom. That is not possible because Peter said that at the Second Coming of Christ the earth will be burned up with all that is on it:

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Peter added:

“But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

He was quoting Isaiah 65:17 that says a new universe will be created and the Earth will be renovated:

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

Peter was referring to the promise given through Isaiah rather than the revelation concerning a new universe and a new Earth found in Revelation 20:11 and 21:1.

The war of Gog/Magog must therefore take place prior to the start of the Tribulation. We also know that it will take place at least 3½ years before the start of the Tribulation. Ezekiel 39:9 says, they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall make fires of the weapons and burn them for seven years.

At the mid-point of the Tribulation, when the Antichrist commits the abomination of desolation, the residents of Israel are commanded to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-18). If the residents of the cities of Israel burn the weapons for 7 years, Russia will attack Israel at least 3½ years before the Tribulation starts, because most people will not be living in the cities from the mid-point of the Tribulation on (Revelation 12:14-17).

LaHaye believes the war of Gog/Magog must also take place 3½ years before the Tribulation starts. In his book, The Coming Peace in the Middle East, he quotes from Ezekiel 38, and then comments on it:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you . . .” (Ezekiel 38:14-15) (NIV). We will see in a later chapter that this nation from the north can only be Russia, and “Gog” signifies her head of state. Moreover, the time of peace will occur at least three and one-half years before the Tribulation period.

There will actually be two peace treaties: the one we are discussing which will provide time for Israel to become so prosperous that Russia will want to attack her personally, and the one foretold by the prophet Daniel (9:27) between the Antichrist and Israel that will officially start the tribulation period. What possible event or world conditions could occur to bring about such a peace in Palestine? No one knows, but we might speculate on some possibilities. These are only possible conditions in an imagined scenario. (p.102)

LaHaye is not sure if the Rapture takes place before the Russia-led invasion of Israel or after:

“Any chronology of the Rapture and the invasion of Israel is speculative and should be given wide flexibility. However, it is instructive to examine some of the possibilities.” (Ibid., p. 148)

“The Rapture may occur in any of the four possible time sequences: before Russia is destroyed, immediately afterward, long afterward, or simultan-eously with the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel.” (Ibid., 150, emphasis added, K.B.)

If he is correct in saying the Rapture takes place before the invasion of Israel by Russia, then there should be a gap of 3½ years. That is impossible because the Bible does not permit a gap as explained previously. Since there is no gap, the invasion of Israel by Russia is an extremely important warning sign for us to “watch.” The last possibility is correct. The Rapture will take place as LaHaye said, “simultaneously with the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel.”

The five primary reasons that I believe the war of Gog/Magog will take place before the Rapture/Tribulation are given in my book, The Millennium, the Apocalypse and Armageddon:

1. The Antichrist signs his Shalom covenant with Israel, that is a peace covenant. The Russian led invasion takes place when Israel is dwelling in security (betach) as it is today, not when it will be living in “peace” when the Antichrist signs a covenant with them.

2.The Western powers are still in existence when this war breaks out because they make a timid response to the invasion by asking Russia if it has come to take a “spoil” and a “prey” (Ezekiel 38.13). A world government will be established prior to the rise of the Antichrist and the start of the Tribulation (Daniel 7.23-24). The war of Gog/Magog must take place before then because there is no world government that responds to the invasion. Instead individual nations make a response.

3.The invasion gives rise to a worldwide revival (Ezekiel 39.7). It starts with the first stage of Israel’s conversion. The second stage of Israel’s conversion comes after the 144,000 witnesses are commissioned (Revelation 7.1-8). They lead millions of people to Jesus Christ throughout the world (Revelation 7.9).

4.The implements of war are burned for 7 years (Ezekiel 39.8-9). As noted previously they cannot be burned into the Millennial Kingdom.

5.Egypt and its allies – Ethiopia, Put, Lud, Arabia and Libya – will be destroyed before the start of the Tribulation along with the nations that support Egypt (Ezekiel 30.1-6). Russia has supported Egypt against Israel since 1948. Therefore Egypt will be destroyed along with Russia in the War of Gog/Magog before the Tribulation.

A final argument which gives strong proof that Psalm 83 is not a separate war from the Gog/Magog War is the destruction of Islam. That alleged war would not destroy the power and influence of Islam. It is highly unlikely that a world government, a world economic system and a world church can come into being while Islam maintains its power and influence in the world. Therefore Islam must be destroyed, and the way that is done is through the War of Gog/Magog.

Daniel clearly said a world government will be established (Daniel 7:23) before the Antichrist rises to power and signs his covenant with Israel, which begins the 70th Week (Tribulation) as he prophesied (Daniel 9:27). Once the world government is firmly in place it will break into 10 divisions (Daniel 7:24). It is after this division of the world government into 10 parts that the Antichrist rises to power (Daniel 7:24), and makes the covenant with Israel.

It is highly improbable that a world government with a world-wide economic system can come into being while Islam is a major world power. It is also unthinkable that the Islamic leaders would merge Islam into a world religion under the authority and control of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. The logical conclusion is that Islam will be eliminated as a political, economic and religious force before the start of the Tribulation.

The men who propagate the Psalm 83 hypothesis argue that the Gog/Magog war takes place after the Tribulation starts. As I just explained that is impossible. Islam must be destroyed before the Tribulation, and that will be done when God destroys the Islamic nations along with Russia in the Gog/Magog War.

We must conclude that Psalm 83 is an imprecatory prayer to God for Him to destroy the enemies of Israel. That destruction of the Muslim nations, and the other enemies of Israel will be completed in the War of Gog/Magog.

For more in-depth reading about this topic please read, When? When Will the Rapture Take Place? available from the World Bible Society