Today: [Psalm 83-84] How to Pray in the Midst of Contention. In Psa. 83 we see that the people of God are under attack. In this last psalm of Asaph we learn how to pray a battle prayer. There is a such thing as warring in prayer through difficult situations. In this psalm the overarching theme is not about asking God to take your side. Rather the prayer of Asaph is that God would get glory to His name in the midst of conflict.
[Psa 83:1-18 KJV] 1 [[A Song [or] Psalm of Asaph.]] 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. 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: 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.
This psalm is that last of Asaph’s psalms ascribed to him. It was written of Jehosaphat’s time according to some scholars, when the Moabites and the Ammonites invaded the land. It is an appeal to God for divine protection when it seems to the writer that God is silent in the midst of a fierce trial coming against the people of God. You will remember that the Moabites and Ammonites were descendants of Lot. From the time that Lot’s herdsmen contented with the Abraham’s servants until David’s day – there was continual warfare between these nations. Lot was jealous of the blessings of God upon Lot even though God blessed him in his own right through his association to Abraham. In spite of the warfare Abraham never returned evil for evil but rescued Lot when he was taken captive when Sodom fell.
When you read the story of Abraham you will find that the covenant of God with him was not ratified until he separated himself from Lot. Abraham was called out of his own country in the beginning of his sojourn but Lot was not called to go. Abraham simply allowed Lot to accompany him for reasons of family association and this occasioned problem after problem until Abraham severed the relationship.
There are relationships that you will find yourself in that are not part of God’s will for your life. They may be family relationships or other connections arising from your own personal history. Have the boldness as Abraham eventually did to bless these toxic connections away from you in order to establish the very thing that God has promised you in your life. Some of these “Lot” connections may involve leadership. Lot’s name means covering. There is a teaching in Christian circles that believers and particular ministers need to have a “covering” in order to be protected and ultimately blessed by God. This was not the case with Abraham. Until he separated himself from the false “covering” represented by Lot his destiny and calling in God was in jeopardy.
There is only one mention of “covering” in the entire New Testament and it was applied (in 1 Cor. 11:15) by the apostle Paul as an explanation of why women tend to have naturally long hair. From this perversion of scripture and twisting of a spiritual truth insecure leaders have concocted a false teaching designed to control and suppress other believers and ministers in their God-given calling. There is a “Lot-mentality” and an Ammonite, Moabite temperament that needs to be identified and separated from in order to maintain pure focus in your life on what “seeking first the kingdom looks like”. Those operating in the Lot mentality will always seek to derail and distract you from your calling in order to maintain preeminence over you.
In verses 1-2 the psalmist petitions God to rouse Himself to their defense. Verse 2 says that the enemy made a tumult against them and (v. 3) had taken counsel against the people of God to bring them hurt. All this is evidence as in your own life at times that the enemy will inspire and deeply motivate people to make things difficult for you in life. This psalm is a psalm of spiritual warfare in the midst of strife and contention.
Verse 18 gives us the overarching theme that should guide our prayer in times of warfare and battle. The psalmist asks the Father to glorify His name and get glory to Himself in the midst of the conflict. When Joshua confronted the angel outside Jericho the angel let Joshua know that he was not on anyone’s side in the conflict that was about to take place. He was on the Lord’s side. It is always a safe prayer and a demonstration of humility when you are attacked to leave the matter to the Lord and ask Him simply to resolve the situation by getting glory to His name and not pursue any other agenda.
[Psa 84:1-12 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.]] How amiable [are] thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, [even] thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. 4 Blessed [are] they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. 5 Blessed [is] the man whose strength [is] in thee; in whose heart [are] the ways [of them]. 6 [Who] passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, [every one of them] in Zion appeareth before God. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. 9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. 10 For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God [is] a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good [thing] will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, blessed [is] the man that trusteth in thee.
This psalm is a psalm for the sons of Korah. The sons of Korah were part of the worship team appointed to the temple of Solomon. They were descended from a patriarch who rebelled against Moses and the ground opened up and took him alive down into hell. Even though they had a questionable heritage they were still elevated by God to a place of ministry and promotion. You may feel that there are some things in your past that hinder you in moving forward in life. There may be people who cast dispersion upon you because of something that took place in times gone by. Remember the sons of Korah. They had a very ignominious legacy but God took them at face value and brought them to a prestigious place of service in the temple.
Verse 2 speaks of fainting and longing for the courts of God. As it is written it applies to the temple of Solomon. For us it speaks of the temple of God that we are in our own persons. Paul said this:
[1Co 3:16 KJV] 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
What that means is that you can take everything in the Old Testament ascribed to the temple and apply to something on the inside of you as a born again person. The temple is not a building of brick and mortar. The temple is who you are as a new creation in Christ Jesus. The holy of holies is in you. The ark of the covenant is in you. The mercy seat is in you. The shekinah glory of God is the glory that Paul speaks of in Col. 1:26, 27 when he teaches on “Christ in you the hope of glory”.
By interpreting the temple this way we understand that our longing for the temple is not an outward yearning but an inward inquiry into the kingdom that Jesus said in Luke 17:20,21 is on the inside of you. Verse 4 says that when we dwell at the house of the Lord we will be blessed and (v. 5) find our strength in the Lord (and not in man). When we understand what God has put on the inside of us and forsake every outward resource then we go (v. 7) from strength to strength. The inward reality of the presence of God on the inside of us will save us in life from reeling from one crisis to the next. We will instead go from glory to glory and strength to strength.
Verse 10 says that it is better to spend 1 day in the courts of our God than a 1000 in the tents of the wicked. Remember that God’s courts refer to the tabernacle and the temple. They do not correspond as a metaphor to the modern idea of a secular court. God’s courts are where we find grace, strength and mercy. In the courts of man we are expected to come with timidity and deference. In the courts of God we come confidently as the writer of Hebrews states:
[Heb 4:16 KJV] 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
When we come “boldly” as Heb. 4:16 says – the Greek word there implies:
To come – freely, unreservedly, openly, transparently; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance, with conspicuous and public security and assurance.
This is what Jesus paid for us on the cross. We may fall short but we can still come boldly to the throne of grace without terror because the path is secure in the shed blood of Calvary.
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