Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
August 27, 2012
Last Updated :
August 27, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Psalm 83 Doctrine, Contents Of Psalm 83, Pro-Israel Doctrine Supported By Many American Christians, Jesus Taught That We Are Not Of This World, We Should Not Entangle Ourselves In The Affairs Of This Life, No Support For Nations Governments Or Their Wars, Problems With Spreading False Doctrines, Test Doctrine For Scriptural Validity, Difficulty Of Understanding The Scriptures, Milk For The Babes And Meat For Spiritually Mature Christians, The Age Of Certain Prophecies And Lack Of Complete Historical Documentation Contribute To Interpretive Difficulty, Unscrupulous Persons Using Ancient Prophecies To Promote A Pro-Israel Agenda, Psalm 83 Is Not A Prophecy About A Future War, Psalm 83 Is A Desperate Prayer By Asaph And Not A Prophecy, King David's Desperate Prayers To God Against His Enemies, Praying In The Present For Obstacles And Challenges We Face, Don't Worry About Tomorrow, Military Confederacies In The Bible: Abraham And Mamre, Syrian King Benhadad And His Thirty-Two Kings, Psalm 83 War Doctrine Appears To Be Recent Development, Reign Of Judah's First Seven Kings, The Divided Kingdom: Jehoshaphat Rules In Judah, Ahab Reigns In The North
For some time now, I have been growing concerned regarding a particular doctrine which has been floating around on the Internet. This doctrine -- which I personally believe is a politically-motivated false doctrine -- concerns Psalm 83 in the Old Testament, which you can read in its entirety below:
"[A Song or Psalm of Asaph.] Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth."
Psalm 83:1-18, KJV
The gist of the doctrine of which I speak is that Psalm 83 is a prophecy concerning a near-future war -- that is, in our own time -- which will occur between Israel and her Arab and Muslim enemies. I honestly do not know who originated this doctrine, but it is quite obvious to me that whoever created this deception, and then began to promote and propagate it on the web, is someone who is apparently in the pro-Israel camp. I don't know what is happening in other parts of the web, but my personal observation on Facebook -- which I use on a daily basis being as I have an account there -- is that a lot of pro-Israel Christians are rallying around Psalm 83, and are using it to justify their support for Israel, and a hoped for victory by Israel over her Arab and Muslim neighbors in this alleged near-future war.
My first problem with this coalescence around Psalm 83 by said Christians is that Jesus and His Apostles teach us that we Christians are not of this world, and we are not supposed to become entangled in the affairs of this life. This means that we are not supposed to become involved in the political affairs of this world, and we are most certainly not supposed to support any nations or governments, and much less support any of them in their violent wars against each other. Yes, we are supposed to obey their laws as much as possible -- please refer to Romans 13:1-8 -- but that is as far as it goes. If you personally doubt that this is so, then please carefully consider the truth that is contained in the following verses:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:1-2, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:7, KJV
"But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
Psalm 37:11, KJV
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Isaiah 2:4, KJV
"And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Micah 4:3, KJV
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth . . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God . . . But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Matthew 5:5, 9, 44-45, KJV
"Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
Matthew 26:52, KJV
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18, KJV
"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)"
2 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
James 4:1-3, KJV
"He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
Revelation 13:10, KJV
So as you can plainly see, we Christians are not supposed to be friends with the world, and we are most certainly not supposed to engage in or support any of their hellish wars, no matter who is fighting them. That said, any person who rejects these points is clearly in denial of the previous verses, and has become deceived by their own free choice.
The tragedy of this situation is that there are many people both online and offline who are not very familiar with the Bible -- particularly not with the complex prophecies that it contains -- who upon hearing this Psalm 83 War doctrine, get all excited, and think that they are doing a good thing by sharing it with their friends, without really taking the time to validate the doctrine for themselves. To engage in this kind of activity is not only non-productive, but it is in fact contrary to what we are taught to do in the Bible, as we can see by the following verses:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:10-11, KJV
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [test or prove] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
Because some Christians -- I suspect many Christians -- make this mistake, and don't take the time to validate a doctrine before they actually begin to share it with their friends, it only makes the situation worse, because the deception and the false teaching is spread even further. I realize that some Christians do this out of ignorance, and not because they are really motivated by some malicious intent. We all receive joy out of sharing God's Word with other online Christians; but it is imperative that we make certain that it really is exactly that -- God's Word, and not our word, or someone else's word or erroneous, false doctrine.
I will be the first person to admit that acquiring the proper understanding and interpretation of some of the Old Testament prophecies is no easy task. Theologians have been debating about some prophecies for a lot longer than I have been alive. Furthermore, in my own life, I have struggled with properly understanding some Old Testament prophecies for over forty years now, and I continue to struggle. This problem concerning properly understanding the Scriptures is nothing new. In reading the New Testament, we find a number of verses where the difficulty of this issue is discussed. Consider the following:
"Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
1 Corinthians 8:1-2, KJV
"Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Hebrews 5:11-14, KJV
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
1 Peter 2:2, KJV
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [pervert, twist or distort], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV
"Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number."
Job 9:10, KJV
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Romans 11:33, KJV
The challenge to properly understand some of these ancient writings is due in large part to the fact that about 3,000 years have passed since some of these prophecies were first written. This is in fact the case with Psalm 83. The problem is made more difficult by the fact that we do not possess a clear, accurate, historical record of every single war that has ever been fought since ancient times. While a lot of historical records -- such as clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, stelae, jars and wall inscriptions -- have been preserved, they are by no means complete. Because of these two facts, it is no easy task to separate those prophecies which have already been fulfilled, from those which yet remain to be fulfilled. But is this the case with Psalm 83?
What further complicates this issue is the fact that there are some unscrupulous individuals who will take certain Old Testament prophecies -- regardless of whether or not they have already been fulfilled -- and use them in our modern day in order to promote a particular hidden agenda, which may be political in nature. As I mentioned earlier, this is exactly what I believe has occurred with Psalm 83. The Psalm is being promoted by certain misguided Christians -- no doubt with the tacit encouragement and approval of the Zionist Jews -- as a reason to both support and justify an alleged war which will supposedly soon occur between Israel and her Muslim and Arab neighbors. But is this what Psalm 83 is really describing?
As far as I can tell, Psalm 83 is not a prophecy regarding a future war between Israel and her neighbors. Please carefully notice that I am not saying that there will be no future wars between Israel and her Arab and Muslim enemies. In fact, as I explain in other articles -- such as "From Armageddon to the New Earth" -- I am absolutely convinced that the years ahead will indeed be marked by war in the lands of the Middle East. So I am simply saying that Psalm 83 is not a prophecy about a future war.
Furthermore, in my view, Psalm 83 is not a prophecy at all. There are two words which are glaringly absent from Psalm 83 -- which are present in many other futuristic prophecies -- which would bestow upon it a prophetic ring. These words are "will" and "shall". Read it again and you will discover this for yourself. In contrast, if you read the Book of Isaiah or the Book of Ezekiel, for example, you will find the phrase "I will" from beginning to end. This phrase clearly confirms these two Books as being prophetic in nature. In fact, Psalm 83 primarily uses the present tense and the past tense. The past tense is clearly used to indicate that the conspiracy against Israel -- that is, a confederacy or alliance of other nations -- has already been discovered, and the present tense is used by Asaph to invoke Divine Retribution against Israel's enemies.
Some people may argue that the words "will" and "shall" are not necessarily found in every single futuristic prophecy. One good example is some of the Old Testament prophecies -- or Messianic Prophecies -- concerning the Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. While this is indeed true, it is my hope that by the time you have completed reading this series, you will come to realize that what I am saying regarding Psalm 83 is in fact true.
To reiterate, Psalm 83 is not a forward-looking prophecy, or a prophecy of any kind. If it is anything, it is a desperate prayer by Asaph in which he asks God to stop the conspirators in their tracks. Stated another way, Asaph was desperately praying for a dangerous situation which had been discovered in the here and now; that is, in his own time. He was asking the Lord to stop the conspirators in the here and now; that is, in his own time. Look again at the tenses of the verbs. Psalm 83 reminds me of so many of King David's Psalms, where he likewise desperately asks the Lord to protect him from his enemies. So tell me; do we consider David's prayers in those Psalms to be prophecies regarding the far future? Why then should we treat Asaph's prayer in Psalm 83 any differently?
Please stop and think about this for a moment. Does it make any sense whatsoever that an Israelite who lived almost three thousand years ago would pray a desperate prayer against an alliance of confederate nations which would exist not quite three thousand years in his future? Would he even know about it? Would he even care?
Let's be honest. Do you know of any Christians right now who have any interest in praying for a desperate situation which may possibly occur three thousand years into our own future? Obviously not. Most of us are more concerned about the here and now -- our own time -- and we concentrate our prayers on situations which we are confronting in the here and now. We face enough obstacles and challenges in our present lives, without having to worry about something which may occur three thousand years from now. In fact, as you may recall, the Lord specifically admonished us to not even worry about tomorrow, much less three thousand years from now, as we see by this verse:
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Matthew 6:34, KJV
The Apostle James likewise shares the following wise thoughts with us:
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
James 4:14, KJV
So it was with Asaph, I believe. He was praying against the conspiratorial threat which Israel faced at that time -- a confederacy or alliance of nations -- and nothing more. We will discuss exactly who these nations were in a moment, by comparing them to their modern counterparts. But so that you can see that just as nations today sometimes form military coalitions, the ancient kings of the Middle East also formed alliances -- or confederacies -- when they engaged in war, consider the following Scriptural examples. In this first set of verses, the Patriarch Abraham was part of an alliance with Mamre and his relatives when they had to fight against a confederacy of Babylonian kings from the east:
"And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people."
Genesis 14:1-16, KJV
In another example which is found in the First Book of the Kings, we likewise discover that Syrian King Benhadad was in an alliance with thirty-two other kings when he engaged in war against Ahab, who was the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This is the same Ahab who was married to evil Queen Jezebel -- the Baal worshipper -- who herself was responsible for the murder of many of the Lord's Prophets in Israel at that time:
"And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine . . . But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him."
1 Kings 20:1-3, 16b, KJV
As I mentioned earlier, this Psalm 83 War doctrine appears to be a recent development. Exactly how recent I honestly do not know, because I have not taken the time yet to fully explore its origin. But one thing of which I am certain, is that prior to our current time, theologians did not regard Psalm 83 as a prophecy about a future war which would occur between Israel and her Arab and Muslim neighbors. They in fact understood the Psalm exactly as I have described it for you; that is, as a desperate prayer by Asaph against a conspiracy which had been formulated by a confederacy of enemy nations, which had been discovered in Asaph's own time almost three thousand years ago.
According to some sources, this conspiracy was against King Jehoshaphat of Judah. As you can see by the chart below which is based upon information that I obtained from the Scriptures, King Jehoshaphat was the seventh king to reign in Judah; that is, the Southern Kingdom of Israel. This, of course, occurred during the tumultuous period of the Divided Kingdom. In other words, one king ruled in northern Israel -- which was called Israel, Ephraim and Samaria -- while another king reigned in Judah and Benjamin to the south. Samaria -- which eventually became the capital of the Northern Kingdom -- was situated about thirty miles north of Jerusalem:
Length of Reign
Earlier, I mentioned evil King Ahab. As I explain in a number of other articles where I discuss God's true Prophet Micaiah, such as "Have You Been Slain in the Spirit?", King Jehoshaphat and King Ahab ruled simultaneously. What we can learn from the Scriptures are the following facts:
1. King Jehoshaphat began reigning in Judah -- the Southern Kingdom -- during the fourth year that King Ahab ruled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
2. Despite the wars which occurred between the two kingdoms, Jehoshaphat chose to make peace with Ahab during his reign.
3. Due to Ahab being one of the most evil kings that Israel ever had, he was slain in battle as a result of the Lord's judgment against him.
4. Jehoshaphat ruled in Judah approximately eight more years after the death of Ahab in Samaria, for a total of twenty-five years in power.
5. The Prophet Elijah -- as well as Micaiah -- lived during the reign of these two kings, as did evil Queen Jezebel.
Following are some -- but not all -- of the verses from the First Book of the Kings which verify these points. Allow me to encourage you to begin reading in chapter fifteen of this Book, if you wish to acquire a more complete understanding of these amazing events:
"And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him."
1 Kings 16:29-33, KJV
"And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi."
1 Kings 22:41-42, KJV
"And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel."
1 Kings 22:44, KJV
"And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country. So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake."
1 Kings 22:34-38, KJV
"Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel."
1 Kings 22:51, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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