“You Alone Are The Most High!” — Michael Grooms

Do you ever feel like the world is against you? Have you ever cried out to God to take away your afflictions? It seems that such were the feelings of the psalmist in Psalm 83, a psalm of Asaph. Israel had faced many enemies since the time of its conquest of the land of Canaan. Some of the enemies of Israel unified in a confederacy against God’s people. Such an oppressive and relentless force could be daunting, but the psalmist turns to God, who is more powerful than all the nations, to come to the aid of Israel.

The Psalm begins with this plea:  “Do not keep silent, O God!  Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!” (Ps. 83:1, NKJV). While this may come across to the reader as if one is commanding God, the context demonstrates that this is a desperate call for help from one who recognizes that God is all-powerful and capable of defending His people against their enemies. The psalmist lists the enemies of Israel and bemoans that they have conspired together to defeat God’s people. It is interesting to note how the psalmist speaks of the enemies as being against God and against God’s people. This demonstrates that God is one with His people and considers an affront to His people as a personal affront to Him. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, He asked him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Jesus considered Saul’s persecution against Christians as persecution against Him.

While revealing the judgment scene in Matthew 25, Jesus spoke of those who were commended for their good works toward Him. When asked when they ever did those good works toward Him, Jesus responded, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). Actions for or against God’s people are actions for or against the Godhead.

The psalmist prays for God to deal with the enemies of Israel. In the past, God had defeated the enemies of the Jews and brought peace to Israel. The psalmist recalls some of these victories and desires that God would overcome their current enemies in like manner:  “O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind!  As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire” (Ps. 83:13-14).

The power of God is exalted in this statement. Those who have set themselves against Him and His people are compared to chaff blown away by a violent wind. As the grandeur of a mountain forest can be quickly destroyed by a wildfire, God can destroy the most powerful empires and confederations! On the one hand, this passage can be seen as a call for the defeat of Israel’s enemies, but on the other hand, it can be viewed as an exaltation of God’s glory and power. The psalmist calls on God to “pursue them with Your tempest and frighten them with Your storm” (Ps. 83:15). This imagery calls to mind the occasion in which Jesus calmed the raging storm on the sea (Mk. 4:35-41). His disciples feared for their lives as the storm caused the raging waves to fill the boat with water. Jesus rebuked the winds and said, “Peace, be still.” The disciples were filled with wonder and exclaimed “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” God can be the force who frightens His enemies with His storm, or He can be the power who calms the storm and brings peace to those who trust in Him.

The psalmist continues:  “That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps. 83:18).  While it is true that the psalmist is calling for God’s intervention in the victory of Israel over their enemies, he ultimately desires that God be glorified in defeating those who have set themselves against Him. While he calls for defeating his enemies, he also desires that they will seek the name of God and know He is the “Most High over all the earth.”

Psalms such as Psalm 83 that pray for God’s justice and vengeance on the enemies of Israel are known as imprecatory psalms. Was it wrong for the psalmist to pray for such shame and utter defeat of his enemies? One cannot have a high view of inspiration and claim such. The psalms were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus and His apostles quoted from the psalms, including imprecatory psalms (John 15:25; Acts 1:20; Rom. 11:9-10). The fact that the psalms were inspired by God through the Holy Spirit is demonstrated in the words of Peter in Acts 1:16 concerning the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, as prophesied by David in Psalm 41:9. It is also affirmed by the apostles and confirmed by the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:24-31. If these psalms were inspired by the Holy Spirit and approved by Jesus, they were true and good. However, Jesus has told us that as His disciples, we are to love and pray for our enemies. He has set a high standard for us:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

Paul reminds us in Romans 12:17-21 that God alone has the power to execute judgment over our enemies. Thus, we should turn to God and let Him be the judge. We are commanded to have compassion for our enemies. God has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” (Rom. 12:19). Therefore, let us remove vengeance from our hearts and place it in the hands of God, who alone is just in exacting judgment. In so doing, we exalt God to His rightful place in our hearts and trust in the power of Him, who alone is the Most High God!

2 thoughts on ““You Alone Are The Most High!” — Michael Grooms

  1. Is the Carolina Messenger no longer being printed and mailed out? If it is, printed, I would like to subscribe to the printed edition. My mailing address is below. If it is not, OK. Brock Hartwigsen 4972 Bulluck School Rd. Rocky Mount NC, 27801

    In His service, Brock Hartwigsen

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