Psalm 83: Naming Names

Read Psalm 83:1-18

Naming Names

Cover their faces with shame
so that men will seek your name, O LORD.
(Psalm 83:16)

“May my enemies know the fiery terror (Psalm 83:14) of your judgment; make them to know the tempest of your storm (Psalm 83:15). Make Edom, the Ishmaelites, the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre and Assyria (Psalm 83:6-8) like refuse on the ground (Psalm 83:10), nothing more than a tumbleweed tumbling along (Psalm 83:13). Make them pay, Lord!”

Have you ever prayed like that? Have you ever gone before the Lord and named names, calling down the fire and the fury of heaven upon the heads of your enemies? Have you ever got that brutally honest with God?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, unless it’s called for. If you are doing that a lot, it may reveal more about the condition of your heart than the people with whom you are upset. Perhaps you need to do a little soul work, asking God to do a deep work of healing in your heart, teaching you how to truly forgive your enemies and learning how to patiently put judgment in his just hand.

Yet there is a time where it is appropriate for you to get good and angry—not just good, and not just angry, but good and angry! Now the question is, when is that appropriate time? I don’t think I can give you a sure fire answer for every situation, but there is a clue here within this psalm that seems to echo other times in Scripture where good anger was called for. It is when the people who are upsetting you are upsetting you because they are hindering, hurting, or plotting the destruction of God’s people and God’s plan. Psalm 83:3 says,

“With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.

So that’s it—that is how you get good and angry. It’s not that someone cut you off in traffic, or took your seat in church, or pulled out fifteen coupons in the “15 Items Or Less” check-out line when you were in a hurry. It’s when their motive, known or unknown to them, is to destroy the work of God. That’s when it is appropriate to pray like the psalmist.

But here’s another clue that will keep you good when you are angry: Don’t just pray for their ruination, pray for their redemption. At the very least, pray that the Divine punishment brought down upon their heads will serve as a witness to others of the glory of God’s great name (Psalm 83:16).

So if you can manage to include those two aspects authentically in your prayers, go ahead, name names!

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just;
that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
—Thomas Jefferson

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