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Devotional

Psalm 83

The Weak Beat the Strong

In Psalm 83, we see that in Jesus’ weakness, he defeated the strongest enemies in the world.

What’s Happening?

Israel is under attack and the songwriter, Asaph, asks God to rescue his weak nation from their strong enemies (Psalm 83:1). Israel's enemies aren’t just strong, they’re vicious. They’re like animals grunting, snorting, and pawing the earth (Psalm 83:2). For years they have plotted this moment. They have gathered an axis of kings and nations to finally wipe Israel off the map (Psalm 83:3-5). A new coalition of Israel’s historic enemies, stretching all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, have gathered against them (Psalm 83:6-8). And for Asaph, this isn’t just another geo-political battle, it’s representative of a spiritual battle. The unstoppable forces of Death and Evil are marching towards Israel. Israel’s chances of survival are slim, but the songwriter knows the odds are not an obstacle for God. Throughout their history God has always used the weak to topple the strong.

He remembers when the Cannaanite general Sisera oppressed Israel under the wheels of his 900 iron chariots (Judges 4:1-3), and how God raised up a woman named Jael, who with a tent peg and a bowl of milk, crushed Sisera’s skull and ended his regime (Psalm 83:9-10). Asaph also remembers how the uncountable armies of Midian fell to Israel’s reluctant leader Gideon (Psalm 83:11-12; Judges 7:1-8:21), and how Gideon forced Midian’s surrender and delivered Israel from their cruelty, armed with nothing but some trumpets and a few fragile jars.

God is a God who humiliates the strong by using the weak. So Asaph asks God to turn fortified nations into tumbleweed, to make powerful armies like dry wood before a fire, and to expose proud kings as nothing but tiny ships caught in a hurricane (Psalm 83:13-15). The songwriter doesn’t just want his enemies defeated, he wants them shamed and humiliated. He wants their power brought down by what they least expect. He wants them shamed so they will know God rules over all the earth (Psalm 83:16-18). 

Where is the Gospel?

The people of God will always be under attack. Jesus promised this would be the case (John 15:19-20). But the good news is that while our enemies might feel too powerful to topple, God promises to humiliate the strong by conquering them with weakness. While the earth throughout all time has gathered its hordes and armed their militaries, God sent a child to defeat them. Unlike the armies of this world, God disarmed himself of his cosmic power and became a man named Jesus who was born to die (Philippians 2:7). 

Like Jael with her humble tent peg and Gideon with his fragile jars, God used Jesus’ death to humiliate an empire—not Canaan, Midian, or Rome—but the spiritual threats of Death and Evil that have always cruelly oppressed and killed God’s people. Jesus humiliated death not by avoiding it, but by absorbing all the fury death and the grave could muster, only to rise from his tomb. God disarmed the ultimate empire not in an explosive display of geo-political power, but as a powerless Jewish carpenter. In Jesus, death and those who wield it aren’t just defeated, they’re humiliated (Colossians 2:12).

The world and all that God has planned for it belongs to the humble, the broken, and the poor (Matthew 5:3-10). Jesus' death has secured this truth forever. A new age of eternal, victorious life has dawned, and the powers of our world can do nothing to stop it (Galatians 1:3-5). And if God was not ashamed to become a child, he will not be ashamed to include weak and humble people like us in his coming Kingdom. 

See For Yourself

So I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who rules over all the earth. And may you see Jesus as the one who died to shame the strong and include the weak in his Kingdom.  

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