The Psalm 83 War

In view of the recent attack against Israel by the Palestinians, I thought the eighty-third Psalm would be interesting. I have already heard it mentioned by Bible commentators in relation to current events in Israel.

Psalm 83 is interesting for many reasons. If you count the Psalms alphabetically, Psalm 83 is the seventeenth letter, peh. The peh is said to mean “mouth” or “speech.” There are seventeen enemies of Israel listed in this psalm. According to the great scholar E. W. Bullinger in Number in Scripture, seventeen means “victory.” Psalm 83 seems to be a statement of victory over the enemies of Israel.

The statements of the enemies of Israel in Psalm 83 are right out of today’s news: “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from [being] a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” (verse 4) This, of course, is exactly what the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Egyptians and the Jordanians have been saying. In Palestinian schools the student maps do not show Israel. There is only “Palestine.” During the 1967 Six-Day War, the late King Hussein of Jordan was heard screaming on the radio, “Destroy Israel, annihilate Israel.”

Named enemies in Psalm 83 can be broken down as follows:

There has been much discussion recently about Psalm 83 and the war it portends. Entire books have been written on the subject. The premise of this war is based on the fact that the nations named in Psalm 83 are not found in the Battle of Gog and Magog, which is thought to be the great battle of the final Day of the Lord, and it is assumed that they have therefore been eliminated prior to that battle. But Psalm 83 does not say that.

This psalm, which is prophetic, calls for a curse from the Lord upon the named enemies of Israel. Verses 9 through 18 call for the Lord to take action against their enemies, but there is no mention of war. There is no declarative statement by the Lord describing what He will do.

Gog and Magog, as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, appear to come from southern Russia, which is largely Islamic. Gomer and Beth Togarmah are thought to have been in the area of Asia Minor (Turkey) and perhaps Eastern Europe. Specifically named are Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), and Put (Libya). Curiously missing is Egypt. The immediate neighbors of Israel are not named in Ezekiel 38 and 39, but the prophet does say that many nations will be with the hordes of Gog and Magog.

The Lord clearly speaks against the neighbors of Israel in Isaiah, Ezekiel and other Old Testament prophets. The Lord declares these neighboring lands to be His possession. (Psalm 108:9) However, Psalm 83 does not indicate when this will happen. But, we know that the Lord will be victorious at the end of the time known as the Tribulation. I look forward to the Day!

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