|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
83:1-8 Sometimes God seems not to be concerned at the unjust treatment of his people. But then we may call upon him, as the psalmist here. All wicked people are God's enemies, especially wicked persecutors. The Lord's people are his hidden one; the world knows them not. He takes them under his special protection. Do the enemies of the church act with one consent to destroy it, and shall not the friends of the church be united? Wicked men wish that there might be no religion among mankind. They would gladly see all its restraints shaken off, and all that preach, profess, or practise it, cut off. This they would bring to pass if it were in their power. The enemies of God's church have always been many: this magnifies the power of the Lord in preserving to himself a church in the world.
Verse 1. - Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. A crisis has come which calls for the Divine interference. If his people are to be saved, God must no longer sit still. Compare the frequent calls on God to "arise" (Psalm 3:7; Psalm 7:6; Psalm 44:26; Psalm 68:1, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Keep not thou silence, O God,.... Which he is thought and said to do, when he does not answer the prayers of his people, nor plead their cause, nor rebuke their enemies; when he does not speak a good word to them, or one for them, or one against those that hate and persecute them;
hold not thy peace; or "be not deaf" (b) to the cries and tears of his people, and to the reproaches, menaces, and blasphemies of wicked men:
and be not still, O God; or "quiet" (c), at rest and ease, inactive and unconcerned, as if he cared not how things went; the reason follows.
(b) "ne obsurdescas", Vatablus; "ne surdum agas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ne quasi surdus et mutus sis", Michaelis. (c) "ne quiescas", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; "neque quietus sis", Michaelis.
The Treasury of David
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.
"Keep not thou silence, O God." Man is clamorous, be not thou speechless. He rails and reviles, wilt not thou reply? One word of thine can deliver thy people; therefore, O Lord, break thy quiet and let thy voice be heard. "Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God." Here the appeal is to El, the Mighty One. He is entreated to act and speak, because his nation suffers and is in great jeopardy. Now entirely the Psalmist looks to God; he asks not for "a leader bold and brave," or for any form of human force, but casts his burden upon the Lord, being well assured that his eternal power and Godhead could meet every difficulty of the case.
"For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult." They are by no means sparing of their words, they are like a hungry pack of dogs, all giving tongue at once. So sure are they of devouring thy people that they already shout over the feast. "And they that hate thee have lifted up the head." Confident of conquest, they carry themselves proudly and exalt themselves as if their anticipated victories were already obtained. These enemies of Israel were also God's enemies, and are here described as such by way of adding intensity to the argument of the intercession. The adversaries of the church are usually a noisy and a boastful crew. Their pride is a brass which always sounds, a cymbal which is ever tinkling.
"They have taken crafty counsel against thy people." Whatever we may do, our enemies use their wits and lay their heads together; in united conclave they discourse upon the demands and plans of the campaign, using much treachery and serpentine cunning in arranging their schemes. Malice is cold-blooded enough to plot with deliberation; and pride, though it be never wise, is often allied with craft. "And consulted against thy hidden ones." Hidden away from all harm are the Lord's chosen; their enemies think not so, but hope to smite them; they might as well attempt to destroy the angels before the throne of God.
"They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation." Easier said than done. Yet it shows how thorough-going are the foes of the church. Theirs was the policy of extermination. They laid the axe at the root of the matter. Rome has always loved this method of warfare, and hence she has gloated over the massacre of Bartholomew, and the murders of the Inquisition. "That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance." They would blot them out of history as well as out of existence. Evil is intolerant of good. If Israel would let Edom alone yet Edom cannot be quiet, but seeks like its ancestor to kill the chosen of the Lord. Men would be glad to cast the church out of the world because it rebukes them, and is thus a standing menace to their sinful peace.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 83:1-18. Of Asaph—(See on Ps 74:1, title). The historical occasion is probably that of 2Ch 20:1, 2 (compare Ps 47:1-9; 48:1-14). After a general petition, the craft and rage of the combined enemies are described, God's former dealings recited, and a like summary and speedy destruction on them is invoked.
1. God addressed as indifferent (compare Ps 35:22; 39:12).
be not still—literally, "not quiet," as opposed to action.
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