SUFFERING FOR HIS NAME
Lord, we suffer for Your sake.
Read PSALM 83
A song. A psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.[b]
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God.”
13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
so that they will seek your name.
17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
a Psalm 83:1 In Hebrew texts 83:1-18 is numbered 83:2-19.
b Psalm 83:8 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Our natural reactions when we are under attack are usually wrong. Pray for a new way of thinking as you read today’s psalm.
Around 250 million evangelicals in 35 countries are subject to direct and hostile persecution. This is nothing new: Psalm 83 is an account of sustained hostility towards believers. The psalmist lists enemies, old and new, as he looks at the foes arrayed against God’s people now and looks back over the centuries (9–12). The psalm highlights several features of such attacks, which help us to respond appropriately.
First, at whom are the attacks directed? They are “your enemies” (2), the psalmist says to the Lord. This calls to mind the words of Jesus spoken to Saul on the road to Damascus: “Why do you persecute me?” (See Acts 9:4, 5) Hostility towards believers is an attack on the God in whom we believe. Jesus promised God’s blessing on those who are persecuted “because of me” (See Matthew 5:10,11). The psalmist also refers to “your people” (3) who are suffering as a result. For believers under hostile pressure, it is vital to know that we are cared for by the Sovereign Lord. God’s people find encouragement throughout history in the realization that we are shielded by God’s power – not immune from attacks, nor necessarily kept physically safe, but always known and cared for according to God’s good purposes. There is one other significant theme: not only will God himself be vindicated, but his enemies themselves will come to acknowledge his rule (16,18). As Paul was to declare centuries later, “every knee should bow …” (Philippians 2:10, 11).
All true believers will certainly face hostility to varying degrees, whether verbal or physical, and from mockery to martyrdom, but we can face such opposition knowing that it is the Lord’s name under attack, the Lord’s care which protects us, and the Lord’s rule which will finally be acknowledged.
The Christian family around the world is facing growing persecution. Please seek out information and pray for a family, a church, or a country where this is an everyday reality.
Lord, Your people eagerly await the day when You and all who served You will be vindicated.