Without a doubt this Psalm of Asaph is speaking about Israel. It was written some time during the reign of David. This Asaph was one of David’s chief musicians. But we can’t be sure of the occasion, so we don’t know the particulars. This may have come during the period when David was forced to flee from Jerusalem during the rebellion of Absalom, but we don’t know for sure. Whenever it was, the man of God was apparently depressed – perhaps appalled – at the power of ungodly. So he pleads with the Lord to take action against them – “hold not thy peace and be not still, O God.” God’s enemies are also the enemies of God’s people – righteous people – David and Asaph were feeling the sword of the ungodly. “Lo, thine enemies make a tumult” – a great deal of noise – “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” – just as Saul of Tarsus will do a thousand years later. Do you remember what happened to him?
While this is speaking of Israel 3,000 years ago, I hope you can see a parallel in today’s Christian world. The enemy of Christ is still “making a tumult” and “taking crafty counsel” against the people of God. Those who deny Christ – from the Muslim to the homosexual – the evolutionist, the liberal libertarian, the ACLU, and some courts – would love to see the end of Biblical Christianity. “Come,” they say, “let us cut them off from being a (people) that the name of (Christ) may be no more in remembrance.” Asaph then lists nearly a dozen different nations or groups, who hated the Lord and His nation in his day. Similarly today a hundred different false religions and hedonistic societies – under Satan’s encouragement – have “consulted together with one consent” against Jehovah. They said, “Let us make take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.” “Let us confiscate the properties of those Christians.” Asaph cries out, Lord, “persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame.”
But take heart, O persecuted saint, Asaph lists more half a dozen of God’s enemies whom He destroyed. Elohim is quite capable of reversing the liberal decisions of the courts. The US Senate and ACLU have no power against the Almighty – “the most high over all the earth.” The people of God never have reason for pessimism – victory belongs unto the Lord.
Before turning to my theme for this morning, I’d like you to notice one more piece of introduction. While acknowledging Elohim’s great power and sovereign authority over His enemies…. Notice again that Asaph only prays for the Lord’s “persecution” upon them – not their destruction. “Persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame.” He is less interested in the punishment of the wicked that he is in the glorification of God. I think, he’d prefer to see the enemy in church – converted to Christ – than in hell. But divine judgment and justice being what they are, only saving grace can help them. So, “Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish. That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” Remember Saul of Tarsus outside the city of Damascus.
Psalm 83 is one of many contemporary psalms. It should be set to music and sung by God’s people in the 21st century. It should be taught in a modern context, and it should climax in verse 18 – not any earlier. “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.”
With that as the background, let’s consider my subject – something hidden within all the details of the Psalm. Let’s think about “the hidden people of God.” “They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.” If God’s people are well-hidden, how is it that the wicked can find them to oppress them? Perhaps we need to consider how is it that these suffering people are hidden?
First, they are hidden in the eternal will of God.
They are God’s people; they are His hidden ones – and they always have been. Some people think that God’s saints become special to the Lord when they choose to become special. That is a serious misunderstanding which leads to serious heresy. I remind you that it was God who chose Israel and not the other way around. Abraham was not seeking the Lord, when Jehovah called that man out of Er in the Chaldees. And Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, was not a godly man, seeking the one true and living God. Jehovah had to smack him on the head to get his attention before changing his name to “Israel.” We see that pattern over and over again, highlighted in Saul whom God saved and converted to Paul. God’s Word says that sinful men never seek after God; it is always just the opposite – God seeks.
What we see in Israel is still true of God’s people today. The saints of God have been hidden in His will to save them since long before the creation of Adam. God has saved a remnant of humanity, “and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” And so, until just recently when you repented and trusted Christ, you were hidden in the will of God. ” Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world… Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace…” Before your salvation, when you were still hidden in God’s secret will, Christ prayed for you. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
The machinery which produced your salvation began in eternity past. Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb, was slain from the foundation of the world – Revelation 13:8. He was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” in order to save those whom He chose – elected to save. And the saved were known to the Lord millennia before they were born.
If you are a child of God, it is because you have been hidden in the counsel of God from eternity. Your salvation did not catch God by surprise, because He loved you when you were nothing but a twinkle in His eye. He loved you when you were not yet, and He loved you when you were His enemy; when you were an alien; when you were without hope and without a will to even pray for salvation.
And now that you have been saved, you are hidden in the Lord in a different way.
When by God’s grace a person is born again, expressing new life through repentance and faith... that person is enrobed in Christ’s righteousness, enveloped in God’s love and encircled in the Spirit’s protection. It is not that the world shouldn’t recognize that this new believer is a child of the King of kings. Rather it is that he is surrounded by God’s infinite protection – hidden within a divine and eternal shield. Despite what the enemy might do to the body and to the physical life of this Christian, his soul and spirit are beyond reach.
The Bible teaches that God’s salvation is eternal – eternally guaranteed by the eternal Saviour. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Jude wrote to Christians like us, who “are sanctified by God the Father, and preserve in Jesus Christ.” Concluding his letter by saying, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from fall, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Beloved, we are hidden with Christ in God, behind the veil of God’s indescribable glory. We can be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Did your children or grandchildren ever play hide-and-seek or perhaps tag, using you as their protection? What joy and giggles could be heard as one of them ran behind you, ducking down to hide. The Christian may have that same joy, but on a much higher plain. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Christian, fear not what the enemy might say about your past, your character, or your latest sin. Your soul is hidden in the hand of the infinite God; you cannot be touched by anyone but the Lord.
But what about those problems which befall us in the physical realm?
God’s people are hidden even in the day of trouble.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
The laws of Israel included the provision of six cities of refuge, where an accused man could flee for safety. He was hidden from the avenger of blood; safe from retribution and human judgment. That is the position of every child of God. Two weeks ago our church got a email message threatening legal action because I ignored an earlier email containing someone’s job application. Actually, I didn’t ignore it. It arrived while I was out of town. But of course I would have ignored it if I had been here to receive it. I was accused of discrimination simply because I didn’t reply to someone’s job application. It might have been sent by any sort of person, from a Muslim to a lesbian, to a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary. I confess that I was so thoroughly undisturbed by the threat that I didn’t even tell my wife about it. I didn’t forward it to any of you, pleading for your prayers on our behalf. I didn’t send it to our lawyer – we don’t have a lawyer. I simply stepped into our nearby city of refuge and left the entire foolishness to the Lord.
But sometimes the trouble is not foolishness; it is real and it is painful. When that is true, just remember that no trial, temptation or pain can touch you without first touching our Saviour. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” “The Lord’s our rock; in Him we hide; a shelter in the time of storm.”
Picture yourself hidden well back in the cleft of a big boulder. You can’t see the enemy, and he cannot see you because he is in Washington, Boise or Olympia, but yet he is firing his long range weapons against you. You are hidden in Lord – your “rock, and fortress, and deliverer; (your) God, (your) strength, in whom (you) trust; (your) buckler, and the horn of (your)salvation, and your high tower.” There is only one way for the enemy arrows to reach you. By ricocheting several times on the rock as it enters the fissure. Before it reaches you it must bounce off the Lord. Psalm 27:5 – “In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
Once upon a time King Jehoiakim was furious with Jeremiah, wanting to silence him, so he sent some armed men “to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.” Satan was quite correct about Job and the rest of God’s saints, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?”We are hidden within the protection of the Lord.
And in that light, let us not forget the hidden comforts which only God’s hidden ones possess.
Even when it is the will of God to permit trials into our lives, there is divine help. There is the comfort of the presence of the Spirit. As you were born again, you were “ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” And the Saviour has given to the Spirit the ministry of comfort. “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth.”
Another comfort is the ministry of the eternal Word of God. That Bible is a “light unto the path and a lamp unto the feet” of the child of the King. Inside its pages are thousands of messages to sooth our hearts and calm our souls. And we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
That is a glorious promise, but please note that there is a condition. Have you been called according to His purpose? Are you one of the Lord’s hidden ones? You aren’t sure? Don’t worry and debate with yourself about election and predestination. Simply humble yourself before God’s holy throne and turn to Christ as your Saviour from God’s holy law. Or as the Bible puts it, repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”