Psalm 83: Prophetic or Profitable?

Psalm 83: Prophetic or Profitable?

It is sad to see the ongoing hysteria that some modern so-called “prophets” create and maintain by incorrectly interpreting Scripture. It is almost comical. For the last few months, Psalm 83 has been the whipping-boy for alarmists who see prophetic fulfillment in the Middle East every time the sun comes up. Unsuspecting laypersons lock on to these prognostications and fret that the end of time is about to occur.

Those who see the imminent prophetic fulfillment of Psalm 83 do so on the basis of weak similarities and the abandonment of sound Bible study methods. It is true that some nations that surround the modern State of Israel have a mentality that echoes the sentiments of Psalm 83:4, which states, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” Certain groups among the Egyptians, Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Philistia chant this slogan on a daily basis. However, this does not mean that Psalm 83 is a prophetic prediction of these events.

The enemies named in Psalm 83:7–8 are known from other references in the OT. Some of the people-groups listed here no longer exist nor hold hostile feelings toward Israel. The list includes:

Edom – south of Israel (Modern day southern Jordan)
Ishmaelites – east side of the Jordan (Modern day Jordan)
Moab – east side of the lower Jordan (Modern day central Jordan)
The Hagrites – a tribe east of the Jordan
Gebal – a Canaanite and Phoenician port some twenty miles north of modern Beirut
Ammon – east side of the Jordan and north of Moab (Modern day northern Jordan)
Amalek – nomadic tribe south of Judah
Philistia – ran along the Mediterranean coast (Modern day Palestine-Gaza)
Tyre – Phoenician city north of Mt. Carmel (Modern day Labanon)
Assyria – the great power that supported hostile nations ringing Israel (Modern day Syria).
The “sons of Lot” – refers to the Moabites and Ammonites.

Even a casual observer should notice that a majority of the names on this list are part of modern day Jordan. Descendants of Edom, Moab, Ammon, the Hagrites, Amelekites, and the Ishmaelites are all a part of the modern state of Jordan. The Jordanians do not call for the annihilation of Israel. In fact, they have a treaty of peace with the Jewish state.

The Assyrians no longer exist as a distinct people group with power to influence their neighbors. For more than 2500 years, these people have not had a significant role in the affairs of humankind. Yet, Psalm 83:8 gives this people a leading role in the hatred of Israel. This fact alone should have given modern interpreters pause.

The false interpretation of Psalm 83 will make for captivating headline news, and people will buy books, tapes, and sermons that create uncontrollable fear, but nothing will come of it. When the truth of these predictions is known, those who taught the false conclusions will have moved on to the next story. Few are held accountable for their false teachings. How sad!

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