Psalm 83.1-18 is a psalm written about a confederacy of nations that came against Yehoshaphat (2 Chr 20.1-37). Some commentators believe Asaph wrote this through the inspiration of the Rucah Ha Kodesh to be prophetic, but others believe this psalm was written by a descendant of Asaph named Jahaziel (2 Chr 20.14) who lived at the time of Jehoshaphat. This conspiracy involves Assyria, so this will happen in the reign of Ahaz (Isa 7-10) historically, but it is also a picture of the second year of the birth-pains, leading up to the third year and the invasion of Gog and Magog eschatologically. This will be the last psalm that bears the name of Asaph. The heading reads, “A Song, a psalm of Asaph.” We will be looking at prophetic themes in this psalm that relates to the birth-pains.
Psa 83.1-4 asks God for help against those who want to destroy Israel. Asaph (or Jahaziel) does not want the Lord to be a bystander or indifferent to the problems Israel is having, as he is thought to be when there is no answer (v 1). For the enemies of God have exalted themselves in pride and make an uproar (v 2). They make shrewd plans against Israel and conspire against thy “treasured ones” (hidden). This alludes to the conspiracy against Israel that will develop in the birth-pains (Isa10.5-7; Ezek 38.6-10; Isa 8.12; Oba 6-7). This will be a crafty conspiracy so Israel won’t activate the “Masada Complex.” The Masada Complex is the strategy that says if Israel was ever attacked and they are going to lose, they will fire off nuclear weapons, taking everyone else with them. But the ultimate reason for this conspiracy is to destroy Israel and destroy the idea of God. Syria has already been destroyed before this (Isa 7-8; Isa 17; 2 Kings 16.9) and is not in the upcoming list of conspirators (v 3).
They have said, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” They think that if they wipe out the name of Israel they would wipe out the name of God as well. In the birth-pains (tribulation period), Russia/Gog and Magog will come against Israel and Assyria is a picture of this, but it will not be for territory. It will be to destroy Israel forever. This verse is almost exactly word for word out of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) charter. The conspiracy of verse 3 is Russia telling the Muslim terrorist groups to back off their terror attacks for awhile. This will lull Israel into thinking they finally have peace with the Arabs, but it will lead to the invasion of Israel by Russia/Gog and Magog at the end of the third year of the birth-pains, going into the fourth year (v 4), thus catching them by surprise and not allowing them to activate the Masada Complex.
Psa 83.5-8 says the nations have “conspired together with one mind; against Yehovah (Israel represents them) do they make a covenant” (v 5). Now we have a list of the nations who will come against Israel and it is a virtual “who’s who” of their enemies today. We have the tents of Edom (Saudi Arabia-Oba 6-7) and the Ishmaelites (Beduins-Isa 42.11); Moab (Jordan) and the Hagrites (Jordan); Gebal (Jordan) and Ammon (Jordan) and Amalek (Jordan/Petra area; Philistia (Palestinians) with the inhabitants of Tyre (Lebanon); Assyria (Russia/Gog and Magog) also has joined with them; they have become a help to the children of Lot (Ammonites, Moabites =Jordan area). These will fight because of the Temple (v 6-8).
Psa 83.9-12 tells us that there is a cry for God to do to this alliance what he did to Midian in Judges 6 through 8, and with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of the Kishon in Judges 4, who were destroyed at En-dor, who were as ding (unburied) for the ground (v 9-10). Make their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna who were slain by Gideon in Judges 8.10-21 is their cry (v 11). They intended to overthrow God and Israel (v 12).
Psa 83.13-18 calls for their annihilation. Asaph wants the Lord to make them like the “whirling dust.” The word here is “galgal” (wheel) and it was a thorny plant whose top dries, and the wind blows it away and it looks like a wheel (v 13), like a fire that burns the forest and like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, the plea is for God to annihilate them quickly, like a wind blown fire in the forest of the mountains (v 14). He wants the Lord to pursue them with “thy tempest” causing panic and terrifying them with a violent, out of control storm (v 15). He wants their faces filled with dishonor because they sought to get to God by destroying Israel, now let it be done to them measure for measure. This is to be done so that they would come to know who the Lord really is (v 16). Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever and not rise against the Lord again because to do so would be foolish (v 17). This is in order that they may know that Yehovah alone is the Most High over all the earth. He is not like an earthly king or ruler who needs others for support. He can stand alone and his will is done in heaven and in the earth (v 18).
Psa 84.1-12 is the first in a group of psalms written by the sons of Korah (Psalm 84, 85, 87 and 88). They remained alive after their father and other leaders died in Num 26.9-11. After what they saw and experienced, this psalm expresses the strong desire to stay close to the Lord and dwell in his presence in the Temple. The heading reads, “For the Conductor on the Gittite (harp), a Psalm by the sons of Korah.” This psalm is recited by worshippers as they journeyed to the Temple.
Psa 84.1-4 begins with a strong desire for the Temple and its services. It begins with, “How lovely are thy dwelling places, O Lord of Hosts” and this refers to the Mishkan when it was written. The Mishkan had two parts, one was the called the Ha Kodesh and the other was the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Heb 9.2). It could also be referring to the Mishkan at Gibeon and the Ohel David (tent of David) on Zion in 2 Sam 6.17 (v 1).
They expressed a strong desire (“my soul longed and even yearned”) for the Azarah (courts) of God. Their heart (desire) and flesh (physical) sing to the living God (v 2). The bird also has found a house and the swallow a nest for herself in the Temple without being disturbed because they were smaller birds. The birds considered the area of the Temple their home, and in like manner the writer considered the Temple as his home on earth (v 3). How blessed it is for the believer to find their home in God’s house (family) and they are always praising God no matter what is going on outside. Selah (pause and meditate, prostrate-v 4).
Psa 84.5-7 says that it is a blessing to go up to the Temple. Their hearts know the way (v 5) and they pass through the valley of Baca (tears) which is hard to pass through. But the early rain gives it plenty of water to refresh the pilgrim as they come to the Temple (v 6). They go from strength to strength as they approach Jerusalem to appear before Yehovah (v 7).
Psa 84.8-12 tells us about the greatness of Yehovah and the Temple. We have a basic prayer for God to hear the writer’s prayer (v 8), and then he goes on to talk about God as his “shield” (magen) and to look upon the face of “thine anointed” who at the time was David, but ultimately it will be Yeshua as Messiah. Now, the pomegranate was used in the Temple in a variety of ways and it was a very symbolic fruit. It represented kingship, authority and the commandments. A six-petaled pomegranate forms what is known as a “Magen (shield) David” which is a title for Yehovah. The concept of God as a “shield” is found all over the Tanak (Psa 5.12, 119.114; Prov 2.7, 30.5). Song 8.2 talks about the pomegranate (v 9). For a day in the Temple is better than a thousand years doing anything else. This is another allusion to a day being like a thousand years in Jewish eschatology (Psa 90.4; 2 Pet 3.8). The writer would rather stand at the threshold of the Temple (as a doorkeeper) than dwell in the tents of the wicked. So, let’s develop the concept of a “doorman.”
We are commanded to study the Temple and everything associated with it in Ezek 43.10-12, The Temple had chambers with doors. The phrase “the heavens being rent (torn)” is an expression that relates to the Temple. The Paroket (veil) in front of the Temple building had the “universe” or “heavens” on it (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 4.4). To open this veil was seen as “opening or rending” the heavens, exposing the Ha Kodesh (Holy Place) and everything that was in that room to teach us about Yehovah. The custom was to pull this veil back at festivals to “reveal the heavens” to the people. This was the veil that was “torn” at the time of Yeshua’s death, meaning there is a deeper revelation coming (Matt 27.51). The “heavens were opened” or “torn” (same word) at the immersion of Yeshua at the beginning of his ministry in Mark 1.9-10. So, to be a “doorman” is to be someone who can open up the deep revelations of God to the people (v 10).
Then Psa 84.11 says that the Lord is a “sun” (Gen 32.31; Isa 30.26; Judges 5.31; Mal 4.2; Luke 1.78; Isa 40.22; Hab 3.4; Isa 59.19 and a type of the Messiah who “gives light”) and a shield (protection) to the people. Yehovah gives grace (chesed) and glory (kivod); no good thing does he withhold from those who guide their life by following the Torah. A man is blessed (empowered to succeed) by Yehovah of the Armies if he refuses to give up on what God has said and promised (v 12).
Psa 85.1-13 is a psalm that describes the return of Israel from some sort of captivity. Some commentators believe it was written after the Babylonian Captivity, and some psalms date to that period (Psa 79 for instance). However, Israel’s history has shown that us that they have been is some type of captivity in many different periods, so the theme of the psalm is clearly redemption and it can apply to any evil. The heading reads, “For the Conductor by the sons of Korah, a song.”
Psa 85.1-3 begins with the knowledge that Jacob has been brought back from a captivity and has been forgiven of their sins (v 1-2). God has taken away all his wrath and has turned away from his burning anger even though he could never have gone on with it (v 3).
Psa 85.4-7 calls for God to restore them from their sin and to cease being angry (v 4). Will the Lord prolong his anger to all generations, or “forever” (v 5)? Will God give them back (restore) their lives again, so that Israel can rejoice with Yehovah again? They know no other force did it (v 6). They want to experience God’s mercy by overlooking their deficiencies and give them the redemption they need (v 7).
Psa 85.8-13 says they want to hear what the Lord has to say and this means they must return back to the Torah, and he will speak peace peace to them and deliver them from captivity so that they do not turn back to foolishness (v 8). Surely the redemption is near to those who fear him and the kivod (glory) will return back to the land and the Temple (v 9). Truth and grace have met together and are compatible (John 1.17); righteousness (as defined by the Torah) and peace have “kissed” or have an intimate relationship with each other (v 10). Truth springs from the earth as a fruit (Isa 4.2, 11.1) and righteousness (God) looks down from Heaven (v 11). God will give what is good (rain-Deut 28.12) and the land will yield its produce. Spiritually, the rain of the Torah and the Word of God will fall upon the believer and good works are produced. Righteousness will go before him (God) like a voice or herald so that it marks where he has been, and he will make his footsteps into a way. This means he will leave a trail or tracks behind so that we can follow and walk in them. This will make sure we are on the right track and not getting lost.