Thursday, July 14, 2022

Giving God His Due (Psalm 83)

"Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O LORD" (Ps. 83:16).

The Lord declared to His people Israel, “I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior” (Isa. 43:11). God proclaimed His authority, reminding Israel of His sovereignty in creating all things, delivering and redeeming His flock. Like a general who demands respect, honor, and obedience, God reminds all of His worthiness to receive allegiance and devotion.

Psalm 83 is a prayer concerning the power and authority of God. The psalmist asks God to overcome His enemies and cause them to acknowledge Him, that they might be filled with shame for their ungodly actions against His church. The psalmist prays that these wicked nations would come to see the transcendent glory and power of the God of Israel.

When the psalmist declares that “they may seek Your name, O LORD” (83:16), he is not speaking of their being brought to true repentance or genuine conversion. Instead, he wants these men forced into submission like Pharaoh. “What the prophet desires is, that the wicked may be compelled by stripes to acknowledge God, whether they will or no, in order that their fury, which breaks forth because they escape with impunity, may at least be kept under restraint,” Calvin wrote. The psalmist continues to pray that they be destroyed forever, not that they come to repentance. He desires that these enemies come to know the power of God. “It is not the saving knowledge of God which is here spoken (v. 18),” Calvin wrote, “but that acknowledgment of Him which His irresistible power extorts from the wicked. It is not simply said that they will know that there is a God; but a special kind of knowledge is laid down, it being intimated that the heathen who before held the true religion in contempt, would at length perceive that the God who made Himself known in the Law, and who was worshiped in Judea, was the only true God.”

The psalmist realized that God does not receive the honor due Him when His sovereignty is shunned and His glory obscured by the idolatry and attacks of ungodly and foolish people. Therefore, He prays that God vindicate Himself and humble the ungodly that they may know He is God.

Read Deuteronomy 4:35. Compare this to Psalm 83. What attribute and acts of God do these passages present to prove that the Lord is God? When the Lord declares that He is God, what response does He expect from His people? Give God the proper honor, respect, and obedience He deserves and requires.