Do you want God to punish evil? Psalm 83 is a cry for God to destroy those who plot against His people.
Psalm 83 is a lament followed by a curse. It ends with a two verse coda declaring God as the Most High over the earth.
In addition to the meaningful center, the psalm also has two quotes from the enemies, each of which functions as a meaningful center for its section.
They Want to Detroy
The psalm begins with a cry for God to not ignore the evil that is happening. Notice that the first verse begins and ends with "O God".
O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God! Psalm 83:1
The first 8 verses form a lament describing the evil plans of the enemies. These plans are summed up in the meaningful center of the lament at verse 4.
They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” Psalm 83:4
This is the first of the two quotes of the enemy.
They Conspire Together
In this section the psalmist, Asaph, lists all of the enemies that have come together to destroy God's people.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the evil that is around us. Sometimes we feel like everyone is out to get us. Remember, God is always with you. You are not alone.
As we have seen so often in the Psalms, it is not only OK to lift up our struggles to God - it is encouraged. Don't be afraid to ask God to notice your struggles.
With verse 9 we begin the second section: the curse. It is here that we find the meaningful center of the psalm.
Do to them as you did to Midian,
as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
who were destroyed at En-dor,
who became dung for the ground. Psalm 83:9-10
Asaph pleads with God to destroy those who are planning to destroy Israel. Do to them as they desire to do to God's people.
In verse 12 we find the second quote from the enemy and the meaningful center of the curse.
who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves
of the pastures of God.” Psalm 83:12
So They Seek You
These verses begin with the third statement of "O God" but now with the addition of "my" to form "O my God". So often we hear this phrase used in a flipant way that I believe disrespects God and violates the commandment not to use God's name in vain. But in this case it is a true cry for help.
God's justice is compared to a raging wind and fire. God's enemies should fear Him.
And yet, notice the surprising end to these verses.
Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O Lord. Psalm 83:16
Even when God is carrying out His righteous justice, His ultimate goal to that the sinner would repent and seek Him (see also Exodus 33:11 and 2 Peter 3:9.)
If you are in rebellion to God and facing His punishment, remember that forgiveness is still available.
You Are the Most High
The final two verses summarize the psalm: punish the enemies so that they will know that you are God.
Psalm 83, like so many of the psalms, reminds us that it is OK to desire that God punish evil people. Christian love and forgiveness does not mean that we ignore evil. It is not loving to allow evil people to continue to hurt those around them and it is OK to ask God to stop them.
The goal of God's discipline is to cause them to turn to God, but if they wont, then they will ultimately face God's righteous justice.
The good news for you and me is that God will do the same for us. His goal is always to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes that means disciplining us. But, His ultimate goal is for us to turn to Him.