It is a hard thing to say, a bitter thing. But it must be said. God Himself has said it, so don’t blame me. Psalm 81 begins the thought and it continues through Psalm 82 and 83. Israel has turned away from her God, has rejected the One who gave her glory, and just as it was two thousand some years ago, it still is today. And she is reaping the bitter harvest of her apostasy, the enemy is at the gates. But there is still time.
Psalm 81 1-7 begins the subject with the foundation, the call to give God the glory due Him since He is the source of their blessings.
And then this:
Psa 81:8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me!
Psa 81:9 “Let there be no strange god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
Psa 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
Psa 81:11 “But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me.
Psa 81:12 “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices.
Psa 81:13 “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!
Psa 81:14 “I would quickly subdue their enemies And turn My hand against their adversaries.
In spite of everything He did for them, in spite of the promises of all good things, they continually turned away. The troubles they endured would be overcome if only they would keep faithful, would keep His commandments. But they could not retain Him foremost in their lives, in their government, in their worship. They turned to themselves and to strange gods.
Psa 82:1 God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.
Psa 82:2 How long will you judge unjustly And show partiality to the wicked? Selah.
Psa 82:3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Psa 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psa 82:5 They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
Psa 82:6 I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.
Psa 82:7 “Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes.”
This description of Israeli society is not flattering; strange that it could really be as deplorable, as unjust, as described here. We don’t know the individual instances but the society must have been oppressive in this condition. The consequences would be devastating because of this rejection of the One who was their only hope.
Psa 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations.
Then Psalm 83 continues the theme:
Psa 83:1 O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
Psa 83:2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
Psa 83:3 They make shrewd plans against Your people, And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
Psa 83:4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
Psa 83:5 For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant:
Just as it was then so it is today. God used other nations as tools of punishment for the sins of Israel, the Babylonian Captivity, the Assyrian captivity was the result. God warned them if they did not treat Him as God He would destroy he glorious city of David, and demolish the temple where He chose His name to dwell. And it happened, not a stone was left standing of the Temple. But He didn’t forget them in their captivity, He allowed the land to have its Seventy Years of Sabbaths.
Even so today, Israel has rejected its Lord and God. And she is besieged on every side. Since World War II ended she has returned from the recent captivity, recreating the Jewish State. But she is still without her God, since she rejected God’s only way to redemption, the One they crucified and resurrected long ago. And now she is surrounded by her enemies who swear by her destruction.
Psa 83:6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites;
Psa 83:7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Psa 83:8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.
Psa 83:9 Deal with them as with Midian, As with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of Kishon,
Psa 83:10 Who were destroyed at En-dor, Who became as dung for the ground.
Psa 83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb And all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
Psa 83:12 Who said, “Let us possess for ourselves The pastures of God.”
But in the midst of all this God still cares for His people. Since the Resurrection He has called out of the world, out of many nations, a remnant, a people for His own possession. In Romans 9:25 Paul quotes this verse from Hosea 2:23 “I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'” Though He has called His Church out of the nations He has not neglected His promises to Israel. But, just as in Old Testament times, Israel must return to God with a whole heart. Jeremiah told them (15:19 “thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you.” And He will be their protection from the hordes massed against her.
Psa 83:13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust, Like chaff before the wind.
Psa 83:14 Like fire that burns the forest And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire,
Psa 83:15 So pursue them with Your tempest And terrify them with Your storm.
Psa 83:16 Fill their faces with dishonor, That they may seek Your name, O LORD.
Psa 83:17 Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, And let them be humiliated and perish,
Psa 83:18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth.
So while today Israel is surrounded by those who seek her destruction she still needs to return with their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life, the only name among men by which we can be saved, as Peter told them in the Temple after Pentecost. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. She remains apart from her God even while maintaining her current national identity.
God will indeed work again in Israel, and will have a remnant return, just as they returned from the captivity millennia ago. But only when their eyes are opened, and their hearts become His. And He will deal with her enemies, just as He promised. “That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth.”
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]