Psalm 83 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Psalm 83 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

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.

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

4 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.

"Let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."
Recently an ancient Psalter was found which was reported to have been open to Psalm 83. Of course, to the Left Behind folks it's just one more sure sign that the end is near.
But the Psalter was actually opened to Psalm 84 (Psalm 83 in the Latin Vulgate Bible).
The Irish Psalter: Open to Psalm 84 (Not 83)
The comment of the author of the SAB isn't very clear, but what he says is that recently in an Irish bog an old manuscript was found, that began at Psalm 84. Due to differences in numbering between Masoretic and Septuagint, the manuscript actually opens at Psalm 83, but that corresponds to our Psalm 84. I have no clue why the author of the SAB believes that Media Matters somehow supports his assertion that “to the Left Behind folks it's just one more sure sign that the end is near.” But if we actually read the transcript we read that it is the CNN anchor Kyra Phillips that brings up the story and, how surprisingly, gets the numbers wrong. The co-author of the Left Behind series hadn't heard of the story:

JENKINS: Well, it's an amazing news story, I hadn't heard it.
PHILLIPS: Really? OK, this is news to you, then.

Indeed. He hadn't heard it, because CNN invented it.

5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:

6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;

7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.

9 Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:

(83:9-18) The psalmist asks God to " do unto them as unto the Midianites ... which became as dung for the earth."
How should we treat our enemies?
Again we are in a situation where the enemies say (verse 4): “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” A bit like the president of Iran who believes that nuclear weapons can solve the problem of Israel:

If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel's possession [meaning nuclear weapons] - on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.

Although in the days of the Psalmist there were no nuclear weapons, the intention was the same. So what should the Psalmist do, ask that his enemies may succeed? He asks God for help. Also, the author of the SAB should distinguish between our personal actions towards our enemies and the actions of a state. And it also matters if our life is in danger or only our possessions.

10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.

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.

13 O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble 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.

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

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.