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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 83



Verse 1

1. Keep not… silence—Hebrew, Not silence to thee. The word here stands opposed to speaking, as one in deep thought, or indecision, as Isaiah 62:6-7, where the word rest, in Psalms 83:7, is the same as silence in Psalms 83:6, and in this place.

Hold not thy peace—As one that is deaf and cannot hear.

Be not still—At rest, inactive. The two former words call upon God to speak, to cause his voice to be heard, while his enemies and Israel’s were “making a tumult;” the latter word calls for action. God hears and then acts. “If we know that he hear us, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:15

Verse 2

2. Tumult—Uproar, a disorderly noise. In contrast to the silence of God, deprecated in Psalms 83:1.

Lifted up the head—An expression of haughtiness and confidence of victory, in opposition to the “hanging down the head” of captives. Lamentations 2:10; Judges 8:28

Verse 3

3. Crafty counsel—Hebrew, Craftily plotted a secret. Both the object and the plan of execution were a secret. Avoiding all customary army routes, they stealthily took the dangerous Bedouin trail around the south and west shores of the Dead Sea, a route which well nigh cost Jehoram his army soon after, (2 Kings 3,) and, ascending the mountains at Engedi, completely surprised Jehoshaphat. He had no time to collect his army, and had no army adequate to meet the foe.

Hidden ones—Those whom God “hides in the secret of his tabernacle,” that is, protects. Psalms 27:5

Verse 4

4. Let us cut them off from being a nation—This shows that it was not an incursion for plunder merely, but a deep political scheme, based on the old hatred indulged against the Hebrews by the idolatrous nations, and on the tributary relation to them which many of the nations had held since the days of David. Jehoshaphat also had directly committed himself to a war with Syria by the affair of Ramoth-gilead, 1 Kings 22.

Israel—The title here seems to apply to the whole Hebrew family. In this counsel for the extinction of Israel, (Psalms 83:5,) Asshur, that is, Assyria, (Psalms 83:8,) was joined. Moab seems to have been the chief instigator, for which the judgments of God were afterward revisited upon that people. See Jeremiah 48:2

Verse 5

5. Consulted together with one consent—Hebrew, Consulted with the heart, showing their earnestness and unanimity. The enemies of the Church are well agreed on the one pointenmity to God.

Against thee—It is God’s cause; the enemies of the Church are his enemies.

Verse 6

6. The tabernacles of Edom—The military tents of Edom. On Edom see on Psalms 60:9.

Ishmaelites—From Ishmael, son of Abraham.

Genesis 16:11. They roamed chiefly in northern Arabia “from Havilah to Shur,” or from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. Genesis 25:17-18.

Moab—On the east of the Dead Sea, and indisputably the chief mover in this whole conspiracy. Their King Mesha was a brave warrior and an energetic ruler.

Hagarenes—Or, Hagarites; probably a separated branch of the Ishmaelitish family, and so called from their maternal ancestor, Hagar. They dwelt on the east of Gilead in the Arabian desert. 1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:19-20

Verse 7

7. Gebal—Not the one mentioned, Ezekiel 27:9, which was an important city of Phoenicia, the people of which are called “Giblites,” (Joshua 13:5, translated “stone squarers,” 1 Kings 5:18,) for these would probably be included under Tyre, being one of its cities or dependencies, mentioned in this same verse. But the name here seems rather to apply to the mountainous district lying south of the Dead Sea on the east of the Ghor, and north of the territory of Edom proper, known anciently as Gebalene, and now by the name Jebel, that is, mountain. It was settled, according to Josephus, by the sons of Eliphaz, son of Esau.

Ammon—Brother of Moab. Genesis 19:37-38. They dwelt east of Gilead and northeast of Moab.

Amalek—A nomadic people of uncertain but ancient origin, (Genesis 14:7,) roaming between the mountains of Edom on the east, and Egypt on the west, in the peninsula of Mount Sinai. Exodus 17:8; Deuteronomy 25:17-18; 1 Samuel 15:7.Philistines—A powerful people on the west of Judah, the persistent enemies of Israel, descended from Mizraim. Genesis 10:13-14.

Tyre— The commercial metropolis of the world, and the chief city of Phoenicia, on the northwest coast of Palestine. The old friendship between this city and the Hebrews, in the days of David and Solomon, was now forgotten, probably chiefly through the influence of the Phoenician princess, Jezebel. 1 Kings 16:31

Verse 8

8. Assur—Assyria. The Assyrians might have sent troops, or only encouraged the enterprise by approbation, or promise of ultimate interference if needed.

Children of Lot—That is, Moab and Ammon, (Genesis 19:30-38,) a clear proof that they were the instigators and chief actors in this stupendous tragedy. Moab had special cause for exterminating, or at least breaking, the power of the Hebrews, having recently thrown off the yoke of Israel, (2 Kings 3:5,) with whom she now stood committed to a desperate war. 2 Kings 3:5. Mesha, the brave and ambitious king of Moab, anticipated this, and had the address to raise the confederacy, and undoubtedly was the leading spirit of the expedition. It is wonderful that the inscription of the celebrated “Moabite stone,” discovered by Mr. Klein, missionary at Jerusalem, in 1868, near Deban, (Dibon,) in the Belkan district, (the northern part of ancient Moab,) was written in the name and by the dictation of this same Mesha, king of Moab, and fully states the oppression of Moab by “Omri, king of Israel, and his son,” (Ahab,) the hatred of Moab toward Israel, predatory wars on the Israelitish territory for the recovery of cities well known in the Bible, and, with many other things, clearly states a battle for the recovery of Horonaim, a city on the southern frontier, which, about a year after the date of this psalm was taken, with other cities, by Jehoram and Jehoshaphat. See Psalms 83:4, and 2 Kings 3

Verse 9

9. Do unto them—The thing they proposed to do to Judah is imprecated on them. The issue of the war was the question of national existence. Let God arbitrate, and give this boon only to the innocent party.

As… the Midianite—See Judges 7.

Sisera—Judges 4:22.

Jabin—Judges 4:23-24.

Kishon—The battle was at the River Kishon, on the great plain of Esdraelon, where the army under the generalship of Sisera was routed, which lost for him his life, and for Jabin, the king, his kingdom.

Verse 10

10. Which perished at Endor—The battle, which began at Kishon, reached its crisis at Endor, eight miles east, where the flight began.

Verse 11

11. Like Oreb, and… Zeeb—Two leading Midianitish princes. Judges 7:25.

Zebah, and… Zalmunna—Two kings of the Midianites. Judges 8:11-12; Judges 8:21

Verse 12

12. Who said—The Midianitish kings, (Psalms 83:11,) had devised to appropriate the country of the Hebrews to themselves. See Judges 6:3-6.

Houses of God—Or, Habitations of God, are to be understood of all the dwellings and territory of God’s people. It was intended as a direct insult to the religion of the Hebrews, and hence to their God. They fought no battles with Israel to gain possession, but for seven years these shepherd kings moved upon the land in summer, retiring in winter to their Arabian home east of Gilead, where the pasture grounds were more luxuriant in that season. Their numbers intimidated Israel, and none dared to resist, while they contemptuously said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.

Verse 13

13. Like a wheel—Like a rolling thing, parallel to Isaiah 17:13. The whirlwind seems alluded to. “A whirlwind is the most curious of all the visitations [of the Sinai desert] to which one is exposed. It is as violent as the most awful storm, tearing up every thing in its path, but it is so partial that you may stand a yard or so off and watch its progress undisturbed.” Palmer. See note on Psalms 58:9

Verse 14

14. As the fire burneth a wood—A forest or a mountain on fire is simply unquenchable fire, leaving trees so few in number “that a child may write them.” Isaiah 10:16-19

Verse 15

15. So persecute them—So pursue them, chase them away with thy tempest, and terrify them with thy whirlwind. On last word, see Isaiah 5:28; Proverbs 1:27

Verse 16

16. That they may seek thy name—Or, And they shall seek thy name. They will never inquire after the true God until their false dependencies are swept away, and this latter can be effected only by judgments which, like the plagues of Egypt, are above the arm of flesh to avert. The seeking after God, here, is that which is forced by the pressure of judgments, but the ulterior, true seeking, is anticipated as a possible and desired result.

Verse 17

17. Confounded… troubled for ever… put to shame… perish—Strong words. The psalmist sees it is folly to hope directly for the conversion of his enemies; their power must first be broken, and in their distress they may confess God.

Verse 18

18. That men may know—The knowing God which is here intended, is a true perception and discovery of his supremacy over all gods and all nations of the earth. This, as in Psalms 83:16, might possibly lead to repentance and true submission. The ultimate idea of knowledge unto salvation must not be excluded, but first of all their armament must be crushed, their plans defeated, their faces filled with shame, and they terrified and swept away in a tempest of wrath, that they may see their gods are nothing, and that they may know that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.” See Daniel 4:17; Daniel 4:34-37; Psalms 59:13; 1 Samuel 17:46.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 83:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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