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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 83



Verse 1

Psalms 83.

A complaint to God of the enemies' conspiracies. A prayer against them that oppress the church.

A Song or Psalm of Asaph.

Title. ףּלאס מזמור שׁיר Shiir mizmor lesaph.— It has been commonly thought, that this psalm was occasioned by the confederacy mentioned 2 Chronicles 20 when it came to pass that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other, besides the Ammonites, came with Jehoshaphat to battle: But Dr. Delaney is of opinion, that it was composed by David, when the Philistines, confederated with these other nations, invaded him. And though only the Philistines are mentioned in the history of that invasion, he supposes the reason of that to be, because they were the principals, and the other nations only allies and confederates of theirs. He thinks it improbable that Jehoshaphat should in this psalm pray to God for such a deliverance as he had wrought for his people by Barak and Gideon, and forget or omit all those which he had wrought by the hands of David his father. And he observes, that in his prayer offered up in the greatest terror of his enemies, Jehoshaphat numbers openly the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir; and we cannot doubt, says he, that both his fears, and the occasion, called upon him to recount the whole number of his enemies. In answer to these objections, it may be observed, that the reason why Jehoshaphat mentioned only the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, and no more of his enemies, might be the same with that given in the prayer itself for mentioning them at all; viz. because of their ingratitude to the children of Israel, who never had in the least disturbed or injured them; no, not when the Israelites were in the greatest straits, and under the strongest temptation to do it; i.e. when they came to take possession of the land of Canaan. As to the first objection, there seems to be no absurdity in supposing Jehoshaphat to mention those actions under Barak and Gideon, and not those of a later date; because the country of the Midianites was contiguous to that of the Moabites and Seirites: and when the Psalmist had them principally in view, because they were principally concerned in this invasion, and for the other reason just now mentioned, it was natural for him to pray, that they might have no better success in this expedition than their neighbours, the Midianites, had in theirs against his ancestors, when they were defeated by Gideon: and then we may easily conceive, that the mention of this destruction of the Midianites might bring to his mind that other of the Canaanites by Barak; for both these battles were fought very near the same place: When Sisera's forces were vanquished, the chief place of action was Taanach, a town in the half tribe of Manasseh, Judges 5:19 and the other victory over Oreb and Zeeb, was obtained within the same half tribe, near Abel-meholah and Bethbara, Judges 7:22; Judges 7:24. We may observe too, that the Amalekites were with the Midianites when Gideon overcame them; and they were now with the Moabites and Ammonites; and this might be another reason why the Psalmist should mention them upon this occasion. And it is evident enough, that the action under Barak is only mentioned, as it were, by the bye; and as a thing which, upon the mention of the other, occurred to the Psalmist's mind; whereas he returns again to the overthrow of the Midianites and Amalekites by Gideon. So that what is said of Sisera should be read in a parenthesis, thus: "Do thou to them as formerly thou didst to their neighbours, the Midianites, who were engaged in a like attempt against thy people; (or as thou didst unto Sisera and Jabin, whom thou didst overthrow near the same place;) make them, I say, and their princes like Oreb and Zeeb, yea, make all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, those princes of Midian, &c." In this manner the Psalmist's thoughts seem to be naturally and easily connected.

Verse 3

Psalms 83:3. Thy hidden ones God's hidden or treasured ones, are those faithful ones whom he keeps up safe and precious as his treasures. The Chaldee paraphrase renders it, Thy hidden treasures; and elsewhere, as Dr. Hammond observes, they explain themselves to mean thereby, the habitation of God's presence, or the temple and sanctuary itself.

Verse 6-7

Psalms 83:6-7. The tabernacles of Edom, &c.— They are called the tabernacles of the Edomites, from the custom of these Arabians to live in tents all the year long; encamping sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, as they find convenience for themselves and their cattle; a custom retained by their descendants even to this day. Gebal was once a place of renown: the country of the Giblites is mentioned as left by Joshua to be conquered after his death, Joshua 13:5.; and the people of this place were of service to Hiram, king of Tyre, in preparing materials for Solomon's temple: 1 Kings 5:8. At present this city has lost all its ancient grandeur; which appears to have been considerable by the remaining ruins of it. But it still retains its name, with very little alteration, which is Gibyle: It is situated upon the Mediterranean sea, between Tripoli and Sidon. See Ezekiel 26:4-5; Ezekiel 26:21.

Verse 13

Psalms 83:13. O my God, make them like a wheel This and the following verse seem to allude to the manner of threshing in Judea; which was generally performed on a mountain, where the corn was threshed by means of a wheel, which ran over the stalks. The chaff, on account of this situation, was easily blown about by the wind; and it being customary likewise to burn what remained, it is with great propriety that the Psalmist concludes the description with these words, As the flame setteth the mountains on fire, Psalms 83:14.

Verse 18

Psalms 83:18. That thou, whose name alone, &c.— That thou, whose name is Jehovah, art alone the Most High, &c. Mudge.

REFLECTIONS.—The church on earth is ever militant; and would soon be crushed, were it not for the protection of their glorious Head.

1. The Psalmist directs his prayer to God. Keep not thou silence, but hear our cry, and send a word of encouragement to us amid the threatenings of our enemies. Hold not thy peace, as if unconcerned at their blasphemies, or conniving at their attempts; and be not still, O God, but arise to preserve and protect us from their malice and violence. Note; Sometimes the Lord appears to disregard his people's distress, but it is to quicken them to fly to him for succour with greater importunity.

2. He describes the confederacy formed; urges their wicked designs, and represents their rage and craftiness, against which the people of God would be unable to stand, unless the Lord appeared to strengthen them, and confound their foes. [1.] The quarrel was his own: they were his enemies, and hated him, his laws, and his worship; but, unable any other way to vent their enmity, turned it against his people, his hidden ones, who were covered with the shadow of his wings, and their excellencies unknown. Note; (1.) Whatever pretences men may make for their opposition against God's people, the real cause is enmity against God, whose holiness they cannot endure, and whose image they cannot see in their neighbour, without hatred. (2.) The faithful are hid with Christ in God, and impotent is the rage of their enemies against them. [2.] The confederacy was strong. Might and policy were united against them: ten nations, however divided in interests, were fast leagued against God's Israel; insolent, and confident of success; with schemes deep laid, and in tumultuous rage breathing out threatenings and slaughter; content with nothing less than the extirpation of the very name of Israel. Note; (1.) Whatever differences of sentiment men of the world entertain, or however otherwise at variance, all cordially unite in opposing the cause of God and truth. (2.) A wicked world would be heartily glad, if there were neither a preacher nor professor of true religion left; for these are ever their troublers. (3.) When all other help fails us, it is a comfort that we have that all-sufficient Lord to fly to, who can still the madness of the people. (4.) Men must know at last that the Lord Omnipotent reigneth, and the execution of deserved vengeance on the ungodly will redound to his everlasting glory.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 83:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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