Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer
“That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—PS. 83:18.
1, 2. What experience have many had, and what questions could be asked?
SOME years ago, a woman was deeply disturbed by a tragedy that occurred in her neighborhood. Born into a Roman Catholic family, she went to the local priest for help, but he was unwilling even to speak with her. So she prayed to God: “I don’t know who you are . . . , but I know you’re there. Please let me know you!” A short while later, Jehovah’s Witnesses visited her and gave her the comfort and knowledge she had sought. Among many other things, they taught her that God has a personal name, Jehovah. Learning that was a very emotional experience for her. “Imagine,” she said, “this was the God I had longed to know since I was a child!”
2 Many have had a similar experience. Often, they first saw Jehovah’s name when they read Psalm 83:18 in the Bible. In the New World Translation, that verse reads: “That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Have you ever wondered, though, why Psalm 83 was written? What events would force everyone to acknowledge that Jehovah is the only true God? What message does this psalm have for us today? We will consider those questions in this article. *
A Conspiracy Against Jehovah’s People
3, 4. By whom was Psalm 83 composed, and what threat does he describe?
3 According to the superscription, Psalm 83 is “a melody of Asaph.” The composer of the psalm was likely a descendant of the Levite Asaph, a prominent musician during the reign of King David. In the psalm, the psalmist begs Jehovah to take action so as to uphold His sovereignty and make His name known. The psalm must have been composed some time after Solomon’s death. Why? Because during the reigns of David and Solomon, Tyre’s king was friendly toward Israel. By the time Psalm 83 was composed, the inhabitants of Tyre had turned against Israel and had sided with its enemies.
4 The psalmist names ten nations that were conspiring to destroy God’s people. Those enemies were situated all around Israel and are listed as follows: “The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia together with the inhabitants of Tyre. Also, Assyria itself has become joined with them.” (Ps. 83:6-8) To what historical event does the psalm refer? Some suggest that the psalm refers to the attack on Israel by the coalition of Ammon, Moab, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir in the days of Jehoshaphat. (2 Chron. 20:1-26) Others believe that it speaks of the general hostility Israel experienced from its neighbors throughout its history.
5. What benefit do Christians today gain from Psalm 83?
5 Whatever the case, it is evident that Jehovah God inspired the writing of this prayerful song at a time when his nation was in danger. The psalm also provides encouragement for God’s servants today, who throughout their history have faced one attack after another by enemies determined to destroy them. And it will surely strengthen us in the near future when Gog of Magog marshals his forces in one final attempt to destroy all who worship God in spirit and truth.—Read Ezekiel 38:2, 8, 9, 16.
A Matter of Primary Concern
6, 7. (a) What does the psalmist pray for in the opening words of Psalm 83? (b) What was the psalmist’s foremost concern?
6 Listen as the psalmist pours out his feelings in prayer: “O God, let there be no silence on your part; do not keep speechless, and do not stay quiet, O Divine One. For, look! your very enemies are in an uproar; and the very ones intensely hating you have raised their head. Against your people they cunningly carry on their confidential talk . . . For with the heart they have unitedly exchanged counsel; against you they proceeded to conclude even a covenant.”—Ps. 83:1-3, 5.
7 What was the psalmist’s foremost concern? Of course, he must have been very worried about his own personal safety and that of his family. Yet, the subject of his prayer was the reproach being brought on Jehovah’s name and the threats against the nation that bore that name. May we all keep a similar, balanced viewpoint as we endure the difficult final days of this old world.—Read Matthew 6:9, 10.
8. What was the objective of the nations in conspiring against Israel?
8 The psalmist quotes Israel’s enemies as saying: “Come and let us efface them from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” (Ps. 83:4) What hatred those nations had for God’s chosen people! But they had another motive for their conspiracy. They coveted Israel’s land and boasted: “Let us take possession of the abiding places of God for ourselves.” (Ps. 83:12) Has something similar been true in our day? Yes!
“Your Holy Abiding Place”
9, 10. (a) In ancient times, what was God’s holy abiding place? (b) What blessings are enjoyed today by the anointed remnant and the “other sheep”?
9 In ancient times, the Promised Land was referred to as God’s holy abiding place. Recall the victory song that the Israelites sang after being delivered from Egypt: “You in your loving-kindness have led the people whom you have recovered; you in your strength will certainly conduct them to your holy abiding place.” (Ex. 15:13) Later, that “abiding place” contained a temple with its priesthood and a capital city, Jerusalem, with a line of kings who descended from David and sat on Jehovah’s throne. (1 Chron. 29:23) Not without reason, Jesus called Jerusalem “the city of the great King.”—Matt. 5:35.
10 What about in our day? In 33 C.E., a new nation, “the Israel of God,” was born. (Gal. 6:16) That nation, made up of anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, fulfilled the task that fleshly Israel ultimately failed in, that of being witnesses to God’s name. (Isa. 43:10; 1 Pet. 2:9) To them, Jehovah made the same promise that he made to ancient Israel: “I shall be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16; Lev. 26:12) In 1919, Jehovah brought the remaining ones of “the Israel of God” into a favored position, and at that time, they took possession of a “land,” a spiritual realm of activity wherein they have enjoyed a spiritual paradise. (Isa. 66:8) Since the 1930’s, millions of “other sheep” have flocked to their side. (John 10:16) The happiness and spiritual prosperity of these modern-day Christians furnishes powerful evidence of the rightness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Read Psalm 91:1, 2.) How that infuriates Satan!
11. What continues to be the main goal of God’s enemies?
11 Throughout the time of the end, Satan has incited his earthly agents to oppose the anointed remnant and their other sheep companions. That happened in Western Europe under the Nazis and in Eastern Europe under the Communist government of the Soviet Union. It also happened in many other lands, and it will happen again, especially during the final attack of Gog of Magog. In that attack, opposers may greedily seize the property and possessions of Jehovah’s people, as enemies have done in the past. Satan’s main goal, however, has always been to break us up as a people so that our God-given name will be remembered no more. How does Jehovah react to such defiance of his sovereignty? Look back at the words of the psalmist.
A Pattern for Jehovah’s Victory
12-14. What two historic victories near the city of Megiddo does the psalmist call to mind?
12 Note the psalmist’s strong faith in Jehovah’s ability to frustrate the plans of enemy nations. He weaves together two decisive victories of Israel over its enemies near the ancient city of Megiddo, which dominated a valley plain of the same name. During the summer, the dry bed of the Kishon River can be seen winding through the valley plain. After a winter downpour, the river floods the plain. Perhaps for that reason, the river is also called “the waters of Megiddo.”—Judg. 4:13; 5:19.
13 About ten miles [15 km] across the valley from Megiddo lies the hill of Moreh where in the days of Judge Gideon, the combined troops of Midianites, Amalekites, and Easterners gathered to wage war. (Judg. 7:1, 12) Gideon’s small force finally numbered only 300 men, but with Jehovah’s help, they routed the large enemy force. How? Following God’s direction, they surrounded the enemy camp at night holding jars that concealed flaming torches. When Gideon gave the signal, his men smashed the jars and the hidden torches were suddenly revealed. At the same time, they blew their horns and shouted: “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” The enemy were thrown into confusion, and they turned to killing one another; survivors fled across the Jordan River. Meanwhile, more Israelites joined in pursuit of the enemy. Altogether, 120,000 enemy soldiers were slaughtered.—Judg. 7:19-25; 8:10.
14 Some four miles [6 km] beyond the hill of Moreh, across the valley from Megiddo, lies Mount Tabor. There, Judge Barak had earlier gathered 10,000 Israelite troops to confront the army of Jabin, the Canaanite king of Hazor, under the command of his military chief Sisera. This Canaanite army had 900 war chariots equipped with deadly long blades of iron that turned with the wheels. As Israel’s poorly equipped troops assembled on Mount Tabor, Sisera’s army was lured into the valley. Then, “Jehovah began to throw Sisera and all his war chariots and all the camp into confusion.” Likely, a sudden downpour of rain caused the chariots to get bogged down because of the overflowing Kishon River. The entire army was slaughtered by the Israelites.—Judg. 4:13-16; 5:19-21.
15. (a) What does the psalmist pray that Jehovah will do? (b) Of what does the name of God’s final battle remind us?
15 The psalmist begs Jehovah to do something similar to the nations who threaten Israel’s existence in his day. He prays: “Do to them as to Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin at the torrent valley of Kishon. They were annihilated at En-dor; they became manure for the ground.” (Ps. 83:9, 10) Significantly, God’s final war against Satan’s world is called Har–Magedon (meaning “Mountain of Megiddo”), or Armageddon. That name reminds us of the dramatic battles that took place near Megiddo. Jehovah’s victory in those ancient wars assures us of his certain triumph in the battle of Armageddon.—Rev. 16:13-16.
Pray for Jehovah’s Vindication
16. How have the faces of opposers been ‘filled with dishonor’ today?
16 Throughout these “last days,” Jehovah has thwarted all efforts to eliminate his people. (2 Tim. 3:1) As a result, opposers have been shamed. Psalm 83:16 foreshadowed this when it said: “Fill their faces with dishonor, that people may search for your name, O Jehovah.” In country after country, opponents have failed miserably in their effort to silence Jehovah’s Witnesses. In those lands, the steadfastness and endurance of worshippers of the one true God have served as a witness to righthearted ones, and many have ‘searched for Jehovah’s name.’ In a number of lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses were once viciously persecuted, there are now tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of happy praisers of Jehovah. What a triumph for Jehovah! And how embarrassing for his enemies!—Read Jeremiah 1:19.
17. What critical situation faces mankind, and what words will we soon remember?
17 We know, of course, that the battle is not over. And we continue to preach the good news—even to opposers. (Matt. 24:14, 21) However, the opportunity now open to such opposers to repent and gain salvation will soon come to an end. The sanctification of Jehovah’s name is far more important than human salvation. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) When the nations combine in the foretold earth-wide effort to destroy God’s people, we will remember these words of the psalmist’s prayer: “O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish.”—Ps. 83:17.
18, 19. (a) What awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty? (b) How does the approaching final vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty affect you?
18 A humiliating end awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty. God’s Word reveals that those who “do not obey the good news”—and for this reason are executed at Armageddon—will suffer “everlasting destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9) Their destruction and the survival of those who worship Jehovah in truth will be convincing evidence that Jehovah is the only true God. In the new world, that great victory will not be forgotten. Those who come back in the “resurrection of . . . the righteous and the unrighteous” will learn of Jehovah’s great act. (Acts 24:15) In the new world, they will see convincing evidence of the wisdom of living under Jehovah’s sovereignty. And meek ones among them will quickly be convinced that Jehovah is the only true God.
19 What a marvelous future our loving heavenly Father has prepared for his faithful worshippers! Are you not moved to pray that Jehovah will soon provide a final answer to the psalmist’s prayer to Jehovah: “May [your enemies] become abashed and perish; that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth”?—Ps. 83:17, 18.
Can You Explain?
• What situation faced Israel when Psalm 83 was written?
• What was the primary concern of the writer of Psalm 83?
• Who have been the object of Satan’s enmity today?
• How will Jehovah finally answer the prayer expressed in Psalm 83:18?
[Map on page 15]
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How do the battles fought near ancient Megiddo relate to our future?
Valley of Jezreel
Well of Harod
Sea of Galilee
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What moved one psalmist to compose a heartfelt prayer?