The Hidden Ones’ Plea Against & On Behalf Of Their Enemies

 A brief study of Psalm 83, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 9 April 2009


Psalm 83 is an imprecatory Psalm with a twist. It is the prayer of the church to her covenant God to deal with her enemies who had risen up against her. It is a prayer to punish the enemies, but at the same time, it is a prayer to convert them! This is the twist.

In this psalm you will find some specific enemies of Israel, the church- underage, mentioned explicitly. These were the enemies of the church when Asaph or one of the sons of Asaph penned the psalm. But all believers and the church throughout the ages may use this Psalm meaningfully in the spiritual battles that they have to fight in this life.

As Bishop George Horne puts it:

While the world endureth, there will be a church, and while there is a church, she will have her enemies, who are to increase upon her as the end approacheth, [therefore] this Psalm can never be out of date. And to the spiritual adversaries of his soul every private Christian may apply it at all times.

We may entitle this Psalm, “Hidden Ones’ Plea Against & On Behalf of their Enemies.” The saints are called the ‘hidden ones’ in verse 3. We will see why in a moment.

This Psalm has two parts, divided by the ‘Selah’. The first part (v. 1-8) is a call to the LORD to arise to deal with the enemies. It contains a plea to the LORD, and then paints the background for the call for intervention. The second part (v. 9-18) contains 5 specific petition, each of which augmented with a reason for the petition or an elaboration of the petition.

1.The Plea to Arise 

1  Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.  2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

The enemies of the Church are the enemies of God, for the Church is married to Christ, the Son of God. She is His bride. He is her husband. Therefore, her enemies are God’s enemies. Those who hate her hate God.

We need not be ashamed to speak of those who persecute or seek to destroy the church as the haters of God. We need not be inhibited to ask God to arise for our defence and vindication when His enemies appear to be plotting against us:

3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.

“God’s people are his hidden ones, hidden,” says Matthew Henry:

(1) In respect of secresy. Their life is hid with Christ in God; theworld knows them not; if they knew them, they would not hate them as they do. (2) In respect of safety. God takes them under his special protection, hides them in the hollow of his hand.

It is “in defiance of God and his power and promise to secure his people” that the enemies of God conspire to put them to shame. Because ultimately they hate God, “they resolve to destroy those whom God resolves to preserve.”

In the days of Asaph, they sought to obliterate the nation of Israel (v. 4). They came from a disparate group of people who would generally have nothing to do with one another. There were Edomites, Ishmaelites, Hagarene, Gebalites, Amalekites, Philistines, the Phonecians, the Assyrians, and the children of Lot, Moabites and  Ammonites (vv. 5-8).

Never mind that some of them were related to Israel. Never mind that they did not know each other. Never mind that they were at odds with one another. What mattered was that they had a common enemy: God and His favoured people.

Is it not often the case, that those who have a common enemy often become friends? But when their enemy is God, their marriage is but a marriage of convenience with no commitment and love.

It was so during the earthly ministry of the Lord too. Pharisees and Sadducees would normally have nothing to do with one another for one is legalistically separatists, while the other was liberal. And yet they went together to tempt the Lord (Mt 16:1). Likewise the Herodians would have nothing to do with the Pharisees who opposed the Roman occupation, and yet they could gang up to try to trap the Lord (Ml12:13). Need we mention about Pilate and Herod who “were made friends together” when before “they were at enmity between themselves” (Lk 23:12)?

Today, is not the problem the same? Abortionists, evolutionist, atheists, gay-rights activists, cloning advocates, tree-huggers, and liberal film-stars and rock musicians— these may have little to do with one another, but they have a common enemy: the Law-Giver and His Church who tries to hinder progress in their eyes.

Is there not an almost concerted attempt to blot out true religion—through education, government, publication, entertainment, etc? What can God’s people do against this onslaught? We must educate and we must pray.

We may ask God to arise in defence of His people and His own name. We may also pray specific petitions like as we are taught in the second part of this psalm.

2. The Petitions to Destroy & Build-Up

Here are five petitions:

·  Firstly:

9 Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.

The Midianites had conspired with the Moabites to destroy Israel by seducing the men (Num 25:6). God rose up in judgement against them during the time of Moses (Num 25:16-17) and during the time of Balak and Deborah when a woman by the name of Jael was used by the Lord to execute justice on Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army (Jdg 4:21)

·  Secondly:

 11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: 12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.

Again Oreb and Zeeb were Midianite princes (Jdg 7:15); and Zeba and Zalmunna were Midianite kings (Jdg 8:12ff). They hated Israeland incurred the judgement of God through Gideon.

·  Thirdly:

13 O my God, make them like a wheel [i.e. tumbleweed]; as the stubble [or chaff] before the wind. 14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; 15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.

These who exalt themselves and are puffed up against God’s people have cause hurt and sorrow amongst God’s people.

But God can destroy them as by fire or make them ineffective in all that they do so that they become like tumbleweed and chaff in their attempts to destroy the church.

God can also cause them to feel what the church experienced, even persecution in the face of a frightening storm.

·  But fourthly,…

 16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.

Now, this is the twist of this psalm. We may pray that the Lord will deal strongly with His and our enemies. Bit we should also have a compassion for them and a desire for God’s glory.

So it must be our desire to see repentance on the part of God’s enemies that they may seek the LORD and be converted. We must not entertain the attitude of Jonah who wanted only to see the destruction of Nineveh.

We must long for the repentance even of God’s enemies.

·  But what if they remain stubborn? Then consider the fifth petition:

 17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: 18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

We must ask the Lord to deal firmly with all who remain stubborn and hardened in rebellion so that others may take warning and know that there is a living and true God who will not sit idly as His people are tormented and His name trampled underfoot.


Beloved brethren and children, I sometimes wonder why the Lord has not dealt with the unbelief, lawlessness, immorality that is sweeping across the world in this day and age.

I wonder if the Lord is holding back his hand of wrath so that the world could store up wrath against the day of wrath like in the case of the Canannites before the conquest.

Or could it be that the Lord is not doing anything because God’s people have made no request for Him to intervene? God is pleased to act in response to the pleas of His people.

Beloved brethren and children, we must remember to pray for the destruction of the kingdom of Satan as we pray for the advancement of the kingdom of Grace. Let us learn from this psalm to pray that God will deal firmly against His enemies, and let us pray that in this way many will also turn to Him.

But let us also learn to apply this psalm in our own lives to pray against the sin that affect us individually, as families and as a church. Israel of old had their Edomites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, Moabites and Ammonites etc. What about us?

We have militant evolutionists, gay-right activists, abortionists and atheists etc. Shall we not forget to pray for them that their raging may come to naught and that they may be humbled before the Lord to seek Him while he may be found?

But is that all? Do we not also have pride, worldliness, materialism, individualism, selfishness, indifference, unbelief, hardness of heart, etc? Are these not also the enemies of the church and of the hidden ones of God? We can’t pray for the conversion of these, but shall we not learn to pray and to labour for their destruction? Amen.