Psalms – Prayers of Honesty
When seemingly surrounded by unbelievers who are ready to drag you down daily because you believe, we cry out to God. We ask for His help and guidance. When the teasing and manipulating gets really tough, we ask for God to take them out (of our lives, not out of existence!) Asaph is praying a very similar, sincere, honest pray to God. We discover that prayer to God is the best weapon against our enemy who works through the lives of those who do not believe. As we pray, believing in God, we understand and are assured in our conversation with God that He is in control. He never sleeps and He is always at work. He hears us when we call out to Him.
Psalm 83, The Message
An Asaph Psalm
1-5 God, don’t shut me out;
don’t give me the silent treatment, O God.
Your enemies are out there whooping it up,
the God-haters are living it up;
They’re plotting to do your people in,
conspiring to rob you of your precious ones.
“Let’s wipe this nation from the face of the earth,”
they say; “scratch Israel’s name off the books.”
And now they’re putting their heads together,
making plans to get rid of you.
6-8 Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia and the Tyrians,
And now Assyria has joined up,
Giving muscle to the gang of Lot.
9-12 Do to them what you did to Midian,
to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Brook;
They came to a bad end at Endor,
nothing but dung for the garden.
Cut down their leaders as you did Oreb and Zeeb,
their princes to nothings like Zebah and Zalmunna,
With their empty brags, “We’re grabbing it all,
grabbing God’s gardens for ourselves.”
13-18 My God! I’ve had it with them!
Blow them away!
Tumbleweeds in the desert waste,
charred sticks in the burned-over ground.
Knock the breath right out of them, so they’re gasping
for breath, gasping, “God.”
Bring them to the end of their rope,
and leave them there dangling, helpless.
Then they’ll learn your name: “God,”
the one and only High God on earth.
SOMETHING TO CHEW…
Israel has been the object of hatred and opposition since their years in Egypt, but God has kept His promises and preserved them (Gen. 12:1-3). Pharaoh, Haman (the book of Esther), Hitler, and every other would-be destroyer of the Jews has ultimately been humiliated and defeated. This reminds us that the church of Jesus Christ is likewise hated and attacked by the world (John 15:18-19; 17:14), and like the Jews in Asaph’s day, our defense is in prayer and faith in God’s promises (Acts 4:23-31).
Commenting on this psalm, Alexander Maclaren wrote, “The world is up in arms against God’s people, and what weapon has Israel? Nothing but prayer.” But is there any better weapon? As he saw the enemy armies surrounding Israel, Asaph lifted three heartfelt requests to the Lord:
1. “Lord, See What Is Happening!” (vv. 1-8). We pray to get God’s attention and to clarify the situations for ourselves. We call to the One in charge.
2. “Lord, Do What Is Necessary!” (vv. 9-15). We offer suggestions in our hurt, but ultimately leave the work to God. God is all knowing, all seeing, all powerful. He is God and we are not. HIS glory will be seen in victory.
3. “Glorify Your Name!” (vv. 16-18). When we pray, believing that God will do what He promised, we praise Him for Who He is. We thank God for all He has done, is doing and will do in our lives. These honest prayer conversations restore the joy of His salvation in us while assuring us He is indeed at work.
If Asaph’s prayer seems vindictive, remember that he was asking God to protect His special people who had a special work to see on earth. Asaph remembered how God had defeated the enemy before and knew He could do it again! He is recalling such victories in his passionate plea to God as the enemy surrounds God’s people.
Are we vindictive in our prayers about our enemies?
We need to be careful. We need to remember what Paul said to the Ephesians in similar situations, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our war is with Satan and this army who work diligently through all people to bring down the work of God in our lives. SEE the real enemy and don’t let him get a foothold in our own lives as we work to do what is right, God guiding us.
Jesus reminds us to turn the other cheek and to return kindness for evil. If you sling the mud back that was thrown at you, you get as dirty as the mudslingers!
Jesus also said to pray for our enemies. We show the love of Christ when we pray for those who persecute us and try to get us to be more like them and less like Christ. It is hard to stay angry at someone you are praying for God’s best in them.
Prayer. Conversation with God. Priceless.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We get all bothered by those who mock us because of what we believe. Ah, but you know how that feels for you were mocked when you lived among humans. You were ridiculed, slapped, tortured and much worse, sentenced to die on a cross.
You could have stopped the whole parade, but you didn’t. You loved and love us enough to do what was seriously necessary to save us from our own sin debt. You paid it all…willingly. You went to hell and back…for us! What a profound love you have for us. What a grand, once and for all, victory over sin and the enemy who thrives on sin and self. We realize who the real enemy is when we talk with you. We realize the overwhelming, never changing, always winning, mighty Victor! We pray for those who don’t know you yet. We pray for their salvation from sin and self.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.