Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on May 4, 1980
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.
WE ARE RETURNING TO PSALM 83, and I want us to look at this psalm against the backdrop of the events recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. I read 2 Chronicles 20 rather regularly because it records one of the greatest victories for God’s people when they were in terrible trouble. Their trouble came upon them like a bolt out of the blue; they had no expectancy of it and they were totally unprepared for it. There was no earthly reason for it, yet suddenly they were overwhelmed.
Many times Psalm 83 has given me hope in our struggles. I believe that God placed this psalm into His record to minister strength, direction and encouragement to every child of God everywhere and in every age. If there is any psalm in God’s book that we can grab hold of, this is it. We can claim the promises of this psalm because 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.”
Psalm 83 begins, “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.” In other words, “Get upset, God. Get a little upset about me.” I do not know what problems you are facing today, but God has a word for you if you will just ask Him to quicken your heart and mind, and if you will do what only you can do: Shove everything aside that is preying upon your mind right now and believe that God can speak to you, because I am convinced that God wants to speak to individuals today.
Now let me give the backdrop. At the close of 2 Chronicles 19, we read that Jehoshaphat gave a charge to the Levites, the priests and the chief men, saying, “Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.” The chapter ends on a note of good news. Then the next chapter opens with, “It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazanon-tamar, which is En-gedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,” and he prayed this prayer: “O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God. . .?” And he adds a word in verse 7, “Art not thou our God. . .?” Then he recounts God’s activities in the history of His dealings with men.
You might ask, “Can I remind God like that?” You sure can. Unlike Jehoshaphat, we have the whole record of God’s book. All that Jehoshaphat did was recount the highlights of God’s record up to that point. In the New Testament, Paul said that God’s whole book was written so that we might learn His ways, and it is all for our example and instruction. We are to learn from God’s book the way He deals with His people, and the way God wants His people to deal with Him. We can pray the prayer, “Art not thou God?”
Jehoshaphat was afraid, but apparently that did not preclude him from making contact with God. Jehoshaphat quotes from the scriptural record, saying, “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?” He then reminds himself and God of what God had said: “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence (for thy name is in this house), and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” I need to pause at this point and ask, “Do we have any promises like that?” We certainly do! Jesus promised, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
I like biblical prayers. Notice how Jehoshaphat gets right down to the nitty-gritty. “And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.” He is recounting the history that is recorded in God’s book. The children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir are people whom God had spared when the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land to conquer the land. Now God’s goodness is being rewarded by the same people who are coming to attack God’s people.
There is one word that summarized the circumstance Jehoshaphat is describing to God: injustice. Maybe a better word would be unfairness. There was no reason or rationale for this attack. You may be under pressure and when you analyze it, you cannot find any adequate reason for it. Jehoshaphat is describing the condition of innocent victims coming under attack. So if that describes you, then listen closely.
“Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession.” I do not know what kind of pressure you might be under, but I know that every child of God is the Lord’s possession. The church is a people who belong to the Lord. If you have made the commitment that Christianity calls forth, then you are not your own, you are bought with a price. Every gift and possession you have is His, and you are but a steward. Your body is a stewardship, your possessions are a stewardship, your gifts are a stewardship, your career is a stewardship, your everything is a stewardship. So when you are under attack, you can pray this same prayer if you have made the genuine commitment to God that I have just described, and that is the only commitment that is adequate for Christianity.
I am told that I preach a hard gospel. It is the same one that Jesus preached, and He said, “whosever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” The hard side of that is you must deny yourself and come after Him. The good side is that once you turn your life over to Him, when you come under attack, it is His possessions that are being threatened. Let that settle in. I would guess that many of you carried the burden of threats, fears and problems into the Lord’s house today, without ever stopping to realize that if you are the Lord’s, then any attack against you is an attack against the Lord Himself. If the attack is not against the Lord Himself, then it is against His possession. I am just a steward and a trustee. “Behold, I say, How they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.”
Yes, I do preach a hard gospel. I have taught on the principles of giving God’s way. When I take up offerings I say, “When are we going to understand that we are only managing what God gave us?” He told us what to do with the tenth of it, and the rest of it is a stewardship. That may sound like bad news to someone who knows that everything belongs to the Lord. Those are the people I am speaking to: the ones under fire. So the other side of the hard gospel is the good news. You can pray, “Lord, Thou hast given to us an inheritance. It is Thy possession, and these rascals are threatening it.”
“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones,” literally, with their little tripping ones, “their wives, and their children. Then. . .” Pay attention to that word. V. Raymond Edman wrote a book about the thens and theres in the Bible; they often signify turning points. “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation.”
Before Jahaziel prophesied, the people had gathered together and either he or the congregation prayed the prayer of Psalm 83. Let’s turn to it once again. “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.”
You may be under the threat of annihilation today through fear, if not through fact. Remember, Jehoshaphat was afraid. But you can grab hold of every promise in God’s book and make it yours, if you want to make it yours. You can make the connection by an act of faith and leap into God’s book and say, “God’s word has given me the key that opens the door.” Then “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.” I am going to take this promise and make it mine! If you can say “we have no might” against whatever is coming against you, and if you do not know what to do, but your eyes are upon Him, then this is your promise today.
There is a condition, a concern, and a consolation. The condition is a circumstance you cannot meet. The concern is that you do not know what to do. If the circumstance threatens you until you are afraid that you will not make it, you qualify. If your concern is that there is nowhere to turn and you do not know what to do except look to the Lord, you qualify. What is the consolation? “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.” Underline those words: thy hidden ones. Once in a while there leaps out of God’s book a description of God’s people that fits any one of us. Now if the psalmist had said “thy champions” or “thy superachievers” or “thy successful ones,” it would eliminate most of us, but thy hidden ones apply to all of us.
I want you to write the words “He does hide” in the margin of your Bible. We are going to camp out on each one of those three words for a while. You can say those words in three different ways, depending on which word you want to emphasize: He does hide, He does hide, and He does hide.
Let’s start by emphasizing the first word: He does hide. There are a multitude of Scriptures that speak of God being a hiding place for His people. Psalm 17:8 says, “hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Psalm 91:1 speaks of “the secret place of the most High.” Isaiah 32:2 speaks of hiding in “the shadow of a great rock.” And in Isaiah 31, God says He will fly like a mother bird to protect and defend. When you are threatened, if you only look at the circumstance instead of looking to God, you might appear to be exposed. But when you look to God through His word, you are never outside of His hiding care. Psalm 84 says, “The LORD God is a sun and shield.” And Psalm 83 says to a people who are surrounded to the point of annihilation, they are “thy hidden ones.” God does really hide us! I could go through passage after passage in God’s book where His people seem to be exposed, but God always reveals on time that He was there all along, hiding, shielding and protecting us.
Do you remember the story of the Old Testament prophet Elisha, when he was surrounded by enemies? His servant was terrified, until Elisha prayed, “Lord, open his eyes, that he may see.” The scales fell from the servant’s eyes and he saw the hosts of the Lord encamped round about. God’s word gives us hope, and faith claims it as our possession. Kenneth Wuest has defined faith as the “title deed” to what is claimed. God’s word calls us His hidden ones.
The enemies will always be out there attacking us, but God’s word says we have an invisible shield of the Lord surrounding us. God will determine what gets through to us, and because He determines what gets through to us, nothing is going to get through to us that can destroy us! It may look to you like you are going under, but if you will look to Him instead of the waves, His hand will reach you before your nose hits the water. Remember when Peter was sinking beneath the waves? He only had time to pray: “Lord, save me!” He got his eyes back on Jesus from the waves, and before he began to drown, the Lord’s hand was there to lift him up.
I never try to bring you new truths. Week after week, we try to take a renewed fix on the old truths. Many people will come under threat, but probably not as much as you will because the devil is not fighting those who are already in his prison camp. But no matter how threatening the circumstance, we can say, “I am one of Thy hidden ones.” Who is the “Thy” mentioned in Psalm 83? Who does the hiding? It is the Lord of hosts, who is quite adequate for my problems and yours today.
Now we are going to shift our emphasis to the second of our three words: He does hide. He really does hide. This is not just some abstract promise that He will hide; rather it is a certainty that He is hiding. He is hiding us while the threat is going on. We cry out, “The phone won’t stop ringing. The creditors are at the door. The doctor’s report just brought me bad news! Where are You, God?” He is hiding me right now. That is the element of faith.
You might ask, “Well, why doesn’t God just remove the threat?” If He removed the threat, then why would you need to be hid? I can borrow an expression from Moffatt’s translation, where Jesus is talking to His disciples and He says, “If you do good to those that do good to you, what’s so special about that?” Likewise, if you only believe that you are being hid when there are no threats, what’s so special about that? But as the threat comes, as the storm clouds gather and as the rain comes down, you can stare them in the face and say, “God’s word says I am being hid!” Not “I am going to be hid;” rather “I am being hid!” Then you have grabbed hold of the essence of faith.
Faith is not based on what is seen. Faith pragmatizes, or works out through your “faithing” action, what is not seen. Not only does He hide us, He is adequate, big enough to cover us, and He is hiding us. I am saying the same thing, but I am just looking at it from different sides like the facets of a diamond.
Finally, let’s emphasize our third word: He does hide. That means no evil is going to befall me. It is the essence of Romans 8:28, which says, literally in the Greek, “God enters in to all things and worketh His good, to them that are the called.” I want you to know that you can claim the promise that God hides; He is hiding us right now and yes, you are covered. Psalm 91 says, “there shall no evil befall thee.” He is between you and the evil. We have this consolation: He does hide, and we are His hidden ones. So what is really being threatened?
I know a man who is dedicated to his work and his health is being threatened. There are those I know about, and thousands I do not know about, but the answer is the same. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we have given it over to His service. An attack on our health is a threat against God’s possession, and He is just waiting for us to recognize it as Jehoshaphat did. You can sit there all day and moan and groan about it, or you can get up in faith and say, “Hey, God, it’s Your territory that’s being invaded. Get upset, God! They are tramping on Your possession. We are Thy hidden ones. Come on, God, Your possession is in danger!” And God might say, “No, it isn’t. It just looks like it. And because it is Mine, I am hiding it.”
Because we are “Thy hidden ones,” this is our consolation: our enemies are now His enemies. That sure changes the odds. It is no longer just “me against them.” Suddenly it becomes “us against them,” and they are the ones outnumbered! Military strategists will sometimes send out a small decoy group. Then the enemy comes charging down, thinking, “We’re going to chew them up!” But the enemy is suddenly sucked into a trap, because the entire army now comes out of hiding to smash them.
The enemies say, “But we have no quarrel with God, and we don’t want to fight against God.” Well, tough luck! If you didn’t want to fight against God, then you shouldn’t have picked a fight with me, because I am His possession. Because we are “Thy hidden ones,” we are hidden in the shadow of His wings. Because we are His, our battle is His battle.
“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.” I have been preaching a tough gospel. I happen to believe in my own brand of “eternal security:” I am eternally secure in Christ. There is only one way I get in Christ. I ask Him to come into me, but I have to bring Him in as Lord, and when He comes in as Lord, I am now His. Jesus said, “He that hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
That is tough because there are many things I would like to do with my life, and many things that I want to do with whatever gifts I have. There was a time when I had many plans for myself. In fact, my body naturally fits sand on a beach. And looking at it from that point of view, it is a little difficult to turn one’s life over to God. When the sun is shining and the beach is calling and nobody is threatening me, it is easier to want God to leave me alone. But I am mighty glad that I have turned my life over to Him when the threats come.
We are His if we have given our lives to Him, and we can pray the prayer of this psalm: “They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, let us cut them off. . . 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.” The tragedy is that many of these people had received benefits from God in the past. Now they are joined by “Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre.” They are all confederate together. “Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah,” or “think of that!” What a mob that has gathered! The psalmist then prays, “Do unto them as unto the Midianites.” In the book of Judges, the Midianites had oppressed God’s people for seven years. But God sent Gideon and 300 men who surrounded the Midianite camp in the middle of the night. The terrified Midianites started killing each other, and when the battle was over, 120,000 of them were dead.
Listen to this prayer: “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.” Sisera’s army came marching off the plain of Megiddo, below Mount Tabor. They came with scythe-wheeled chariots that cut up everything that came close to them. They had cruelly oppressed God’s people for twenty years. God, through the prophetess Deborah, commanded Barak to take 10,000 men to go out and fight them. Barak’s men charged down off of Mount Tabor in the middle of the night. The Bible says God made the starts fight in the heavens for them and they totally defeated the oppressors.
The psalmist continues to recount past victories where God fought for His people. He asks God to “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.” Who is the house of God today? Who is the temple of the Holy Spirit? You are! You are the house of God, in trouble and being threatened with annihilation by people who say, “Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.”
Our enemies are His enemies. He hides us. And because we are His, hidden in Him, hidden with Christ in God, our battle is His battle. Then the psalmist cried out, “O my God, make them like a wheel,” roll them around like a tumbleweed, “as the stubble before the wind. And 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.” If you thought that God was all sunlight and joy, He is also tempest and storm. It just depends on which side you are on.
“Fill their faces with shame,” humiliate them, Lord. Why? So “that they may seek thy name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and troubled forever; 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.” He is the Lord, not those who are trying to exercise authority over you and destroy you. “Thou alone art LORD.” That is you consolation. God is more than adequate to look after His hidden ones.
Now turn back to 2 Chronicles 20:14. “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; and he said, “Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.”
The next day “they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”
“And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.” Now I want to ask you, does the Bible not say, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever?” We serve the same God today. “And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.”
I want you to understand that when it looks bad, when a multitude comes against you, they are all walking into God’s trap. Just wait until He deals with them. We are still under the shadow of the Almighty. Will you say this will me? “I am one of God’s hidden ones. My enemies are His enemies. My battle is His battle.” We won!
-From The PULPIT, Volume 9. Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott.
How can God’s impartiality be reconciled with the idea of a chosen people? God made it very clear on a number of occasions that it was not “respect of persons” that caused Him to choose Israel. He chose them in spite of their unworthiness and unattractiveness, not because He found them more appealing than other peoples. In fact, they were rebels who deserved nothing but judgment. It was these unworthies in whom He decided to demonstrate His love, grace, and mercy to the world. Listen as He speaks to Israel through His prophets:
“The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob], hath the Lord brought you out [of Egypt]” (Deuteronomy 7:7,8).
“This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say. . .to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:9,10).
“Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day” (Ezekiel 2:3).
The Bible repeatedly says that the Jews, like all mankind, are rebels who are unworthy of anything except judgment. Even so, God blesses Israel by grace without any merit on her part because of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moreover, this grace is made possible by the Messiah’s redemptive death. The contradiction between the Bible and the Koran could not be clearer on this point.
Although Allah is called “the Merciful Compassionate One,” he is, in fact, compassionate only with a few, merciless with most, and has no basis for mercifully forgiving the sinner. In contrast to the biblical gospel of God’s grace, Islam’s salvation is by works and is merited by keeping the law. The Koran has no concept of divine mercy and grace and the penalty for man’s sin having been paid in full by the Redeemer.
The Koran declares that Muslims receive God’s blessing, not by grace, but because they are worthy: “Ye are the best of Peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah” (Sura 3:110). This same verse goes on to call the Jews the people “whom Allah hath cursed. . . [who] have no one to help [them].”
It is commonly argued today, even by evangelicals, that the return of millions of Jews to their land is merely a chance happening of history without any prophetic significance. Surely God would not have brought the Jews back to Israel, it is argued, because they aren’t worthy of it. A large percentage of them are atheists or agnostics and nearly all have rejected their Messiah. Many are humanists, materialists, New Agers.
Certainly Israel has not always acted in perfect righteousness toward the Arab Palestinians or toward her neighbors. With such a litany of sins to her credit stretching back to ancient times, how could Israel enjoy God’s special blessings?
Israel’s imperfections are beside the point. As the above verses and hundreds like them in the Bible attest, Israel has been rebellious from the very beginning. Her present condition is nothing new. God has punished Israel for her sins. The worst punishment, however, lies ahead during the Great Tribulation, which will culminate in the battle of Armageddon. Yet the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob remain and will be fulfilled by God’s grace. For if God’s blessing comes only to those who are worthy of it, then all mankind is doomed. For as the Bible reminds us, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23; 5:12).
There is no way for a sinner to pay for his own sins. Even one violation of the law puts the lawbreaker in a hopeless condition before God. Keeping the law perfectly in the future (even if that were possible) could never make up for having broken the law even once in the past. Obviously, there is no extra credit given for perfect compliance with every precept, for that is exactly what the law demands. Thus, good deeds can never obtain God’s forgiveness for past sin.
The debt must be paid by One who is without sin and who is able to bear the judgment that the guilty deserve. Such is God’s solution to evil – and to pay that debt was the primary mission of the Messiah. It was through His death for our sins that He judged and destroyed satan. Hence, the good news of the gospel: “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Part of God’s punishment upon Israel in the past was to scatter her people throughout all nations. He is now bringing them back to their land in unprecedented numbers, not because they merit it but because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to do so. It has been a modern phenomenon far exceeding the original exodus of their ancestors from Egypt into the promised land.
- From the book, How Close Are We? by Dave Hunt (pages 42-44)
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