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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 83



Verses 1-18

This psalm bears the style and character of Asaph’s composition. It has been referred to the time of Hezekiah, when Sennacherib came up against Judea; but he came equally against Egypt, and all the nine nations mentioned here. It has also been referred to the time of Jehoshaphat, when the Ammonites and Moabites slew each other, 2 Chronicles 20.; but there is no time in which all those nine nations fought in a sort of ill-joined league, except the time of David, who put them all more or less under tribute. The inhabitants of Tyre were not in alliance with Moab. Whereas Assur, Psalms 83:8, was joined with them, and David fought hard and conquered near the Euphrates, against Hadadezer. 2 Samuel 8:3-12. This is more apparent from Psalms 83:4.

Psalms 83:3. They have—consulted against thy hidden ones. צפוניךְ tsephuneyca. This is a new title given to the pious Hebrews. The LXX and the Vulgate read, “thy saints.” They are God’s secret treasure; they shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day when I make up my jewels.

Psalms 83:4. Let us cut them off, viz. Israel. David reigned over all Israel, whereas Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah only. Therefore the psalm must refer to David’s victories over the nations that combined against him.

Psalms 83:6. The tabernacles of Edom; the dwellings or tents of Edom.

Psalms 83:13. Make them like a wheel. גלגל galgal, which signifies a wheel, and straw, chaff, and dust, whirled by the wind. It may also signify the whirlwind, which takes up refuse, and whirls it away; or the wheel with which the ancients threshed their corn. Make them as chaff before the wind, or on a threshing floor.

Psalms 83:17. Let them be confounded. The usual prayer in war songs for victory; and the prayers they offered for victory include prayers for the destruction of their enemies. Yet there seems to be a measure of grace in the issues of these prayers, that they might know JEHOVAH to be as his name, great above all gods.


When David had ascended the throne of all Israel, and when the neighbouring nations came to know the high character of Israel’s king, they formed a league for their own safety, and for his destruction. We find named in this confederacy, the Tyrians; the Gebalines, adjacent to Tyre; and Assur or the Assyrians, in the north. In the south we find the Philistines; the Hagarenes or Saracens; the nation of Ishmael; of Amalek, though now small; also of Ammon and Moab. These nine nations, strange to say, had formed the design to blot out the name of Israel. The psalm is therefore of vast historical importance, as it fully justifies the character of David in making war with all his neighbours; demonstrates the ignorance of infidels who declaim against him, without knowing the cause; and it realizes the adage of the heathen, “He whom God destroys is first mad.”

The confederacy of the nine nations contributed, while it brought the last of punishments on the heathen, to exalt David in wealth and power above all the kings of the east. This psalm formed an interesting recollection to the Hebrew nation of the signal mercies of God to their country and their king.

We may mark next the piety of David; he began with the protection and defence of his country by fervent prayer to God, and by acts of faith founded on past mercies. He asks Gideon’s salvation, and that God would make them like a wheel; but several critics think it should be thistle-down, for the Hebrew will bear that reading, and it best agrees with stubble or chaff blown away with the wind. He prays farther, that God would cover their faces with shame, that men, or rather that they may know that his name alone is JEHOVAH, high over all the earth. Hence christians may learn, that as God gave David a series of victories for the protection of Zion, so he will still defend his saints; and how great soever the enemies of the church may be, our JEHOVAH Jesus is a great king above all gods. He sits in the heavens, and laughs them to scorn.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 83:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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