Psalm 83 is the last of the Psalms of Asaph, which include Psalms 50 and 73-83. It is also the last of the so-called "Elohist" collection, Psalms 42-83, in which the one of God's titles, Elohim is mainly used.:405:7 It is generally seen as a national lament provoked by the threat of an invasion of Israel by its neighbors. The psalm has been seen by some commentators as being purely cultic in nature. Others have indicated that the fact that particular nations are specifically named indicates that it does refer to a specific historical period, even though the prayer itself would be offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. The dating of the composition of the Psalm is debated, but the reference in verse 9 to Assyria is by many sources seen as an indication that the Psalm was written during the time of Assyrian ascendancy, the ninth to seventh centuries BC. Others have placed the composition of the psalm between the time of Saul to the age of the Maccabees, suggested by Theodore of Mopsuestia.
The specific meaning of this verse is disputed. The verb can be translated to refer to either speech ("be not silent") or motion ("be not inactive"). The fact that the verse requests the assistance of God three times emphasizes the urgency of the situation and of the people's prayer.
Verses 2 through 5
In the text of the psalm, specifically verses 2 through 5, the speaker makes the assumption that individuals who plot against the nation of Israel must inherently be enemies of God. He also ascribes to them the intention of the complete extinction of the people of Israel, as that is the meaning of verse 4, which indicates that the name of Israel will be obliterated or remembered no more.
Verses 6 through 8
These verses provide the names of the ten nations which have evidently formed a coalition against Israel, the Edomites, the Ishmaelites, Moab, the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, the Philistines, Tyre, and Assyria.
Verses 9 through 12
The narrator goes on to assume that God himself will fight on Israel's side in the upcoming battle, based on the stories contained in the 4th through 8th chapters of the Book of Judges, citing individual actions attributed to God in that book.
Verses 13 through 17
In these verses, the narrator specifically requests that God make the opponents of Israel suffer and experience shame and die in disgrace for opposing Israel, and, by extension, God himself. The specifics mentioned, including chaff, fire and storm, are references to the Sirocco.
In this verse, the narrator states that he wishes God perform these various acts so that all might know that God is the most powerful entity and has sway over all the Earth. This verse, with verse 16, indicates that, although the bulk of the psalm is a prayer for the destruction of the enemies of Israel, there is some positive hope that the enemies of Israel might come to acknowledge the god of Israel. While the King James Version most often translates the tetragrammaton (which occurs in the Hebrew scriptures 6,828 times) as "LORD", this verse has one of the several occurrences in which it is translated as "JEHOVAH". It is one of the few verses where the phrases "whose name is" or "that is my name" are used (Isa 42:8, Jer 33:2, etc.) in the whole Bible. Notably, for these reasons this particular verse in the King James Bible is widely quoted, particularly by Jehovah's Witnesses, as evidence that "Jehovah" is the personal name of God, and as an argument for their view that all instances of the Tetragrammaton should be translated like this.
Different translations interpret the verse as follows:
|ASV||"That they may know that thou alone, whose name is JEHOVAH, Art the Most High over all the earth."|
|KJV||"That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth."|
|NAB||"Show them you alone are the LORD, the Most High over all the earth." (as verse 19)|
|NWT||"That people may know that you, whose name is JEHOVAH, you alone are the Most High over all the earth."|
|REB||"So let it be known that you, whose name is the LORD, are alone Most High over all the earth."|
|RSV||"Let them know that thou alone, whose name is the LORD, art the Most High over all the earth."|
|WEB||"that they may know that you alone, whose name is YAHWEH, are the Most High over all the earth."|
|YNG||"And they know that Thou -- (Thy name [is] JEHOVAH -- by Thyself,) [Art] the Most High over all the earth!"|
- Dunn, James D.G.; John W. Rogerson (2003). Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-3711-5.
- Murphy, Roland E. (2000). The Gift of the Psalms. Hendrickson. ISBN 978-1-56563-474-9.
- Black, Matthew, editor. Peake's Commentary on the Bible. Camden, NJ:Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962.
- The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990. ISBN 0-13-614934-0.
- Barton, John and John Muddiman, editors. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-19-875500-7.
- Farmer, William R., editor. The International Bible Commentary. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8146-2454-5.
- Jehovah's Witnesses (January 22, 2004). "Do You Know God by Name?". Watchtower Society..