Psalm 83 and God’s Hidden Ones

A Song or Psalm of Asaph. Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

Keep not thou silence, O God – The prayer here is that in the existing emergency God would not seem to be indifferent to the needs and dangers of his people, and to the purposes of their enemies, but that he would speak with a voice of command, and break up their designs.

Hold not thy peace – That is, Speak. Give commaud. Disperse them by thine own authority.

And be not still, O God – Awake; arouse; be not indifferent to the needs and dangers of thy people.

All this is the language of petition; not of command. Its rapidity, its repetition, its tone, all denote that the danger was imminent, and that the necessity for the divine interposition was urgent.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult – Are excited; are aroused; are moving in a wild, furious, tumultuous manner, rushing on to the accomplishment of their designs. They come like rolling waves of the sea.

And they that hate thee – Thine enemies; the enemies of thy cause, and of thy people.

Have lifted up the head – Have become proud; bold; confident of success, all of which is indicated by the phrase “lifted up the head.” The head is bowed down in penitence and trouble; pride lifts it up; boldness, confidence, and wickedness, are indicated by its being thus lifted up.

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

They have taken crafty counsel – The one word translated “have taken crafty” – ערם ‛âram – means properly to make naked; and then, to be crafty, cunning, malignant. It is well rendered here, they have taken crafty counsel. The meaning is, they have made their counsel or their consultations crafty, cunning, artful, malignant. Instead of pursuing a course in their deliberations that would be just, true, honorable, they have followed the reverse. On the word rendered “counsel” – סוד sôd – which means a couch or cushion, and hence, a divan. The idea here is, that the persons referred to in the subsequent part of the psalm (Psalm 83:6-8) had been assembled in a divan, or for consultation, and that they had there formed a malignant plan – against God and his people – which they were now proceeding to execute.

Against thy people – For the purpose of destroying them.

And consulted against thy hidden ones – The word rendered “hidden ones” – from the verb צפן tsâphan, to hide, to conceal – properly denotes that which is secret, private, inaccessible; and then, anything protected or hidden so as to be secure. It would seem here to refer to those who were so protected by Yahweh – so inaccessible to others by reason of his guardian care – that they would be safe.

Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
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