Psalm 83 is the last of the psalms of Asaph. Many of Asaph’s psalms are laments about the condition of Israel, especially to the threats of opposing nations. Some of these laments concerned the people of God in captivity. But these laments have almost always been accompanied by hope in the Lord. Such is the case in this last psalm of Asaph as well. I want to do something a bit different and write out a prayer based on Psalm 83. I encourage you to read through Psalm 83 in its entirety first (it’s only 18 verses!) and then take in this prayer which I have written through our modern eyes and words as I reflected on its words and their meaning for us today.
Oh God, strong and mighty! I come to You in boldness and in truth. Do not stay silent! Do not shut us out. Move on our behalf! Your enemies are living their lives to the full. Those who hate You God, are plotting evil and conspiring against Your name and Your people. “Let’s wipe this nation and this people from the face of the earth,” they say. “Wipe God’s people from every mind so that they are remembered no more.” God, Your enemies plot together to get rid of You. They band together against You.
We are surrounded by opposing forces on every side! Every direction that we look, north, south, east, and west, there are those who are attacking and slandering Your people, Your cherished people. There are those who are attacking You God. For when Your people are attacked, You are also attacked.
We think of the nations and those within them who live far away from us, like those who drive Christians across the seas into underground churches and those who persecute Christians who openly profess their faith. And those people who are closer to home. Those who are like the opposing nations who trace their family lineage back to Esau, to Ishmael, to Lot. The people who are from Your family line, God, but who do not profess Your name. These are the people who are close to us. Some are national or local public figures and officials. Some people are so much closer to us than this.
When Your people are attacked, You are also attacked, God. Those who don’t follow Your ways plot with their mouths to take over the good ground that Your people have planted on the word of truth. Help and hope for the refugee, the racialized, the prisoner, the homeless, and those whose very freedom of speech and personhood is persecuted. Your attackers, Lord, want this ground taken back for themselves.
Although we may be surrounded on every side by those who are slandering us, who are slandering You God, we know that we are surrounded in greater strength and power by You God. For You alone are strong and mighty to save. You have never let us down God, and You never will. Let us not be among those who attack, slander, throw blame, or get involved in petty arguments. May Your people be known as the peacekeepers, the bridge builders, and the restorer of broken walls.
Do to Your opponents as You have to Your opponents through the ages. Reveal to them Your justice Lord for You are a God of justice!
Yet Lord, You are also a God of mercy. And so I plead with You to also reveal Your mercy through these terrifying storms to these same people. Cover the faces of Your oppressors with shame. May their shame cause them to seek You God. May their dishonour draw them straight to You, Oh Lord. Bring them from the place of terror and shame to a place of repentance and refuge in the shadow of Your wing, so that they may be a witness to the greatness of Your name.
Reveal to Your oppressors, Your attackers, and to those in opposition to Your ways, and Your people, that You alone are the Lord God Almighty. There is none like You. Let them see that You alone, are exalted Most High God over all the earth, and over all of creation. Amen.