Since I am known to talk about Psalm 83 as being an end time prophecy of a coming Arab confederacy attack on Israel, I was asked to give my response to this video by Chris White:
The video raises five objections to Psalm 83 being a prophecy which I’ll answer below:
1. “There is no war in Psalm 83”
I wonder if Chris White has checked out other war prophecies in the Bible because this is not so strange as he thinks.
For example, Isaiah 17 is accepted as a prophecy of a war between Israel and Syria resulting in Damascus being destroyed. But there is also no battle described there. Just the lead-up (“terror in the evening”, “the nations shall rush”) and the outcome (“by morning they are gone”, “Damascus has become a ruinous heap”, “this is what happens to those who ravage us” )
Psalm 83, which I think is parallel to Isaiah 17, is similar. While an actual battle is not outlined, we do have a conflict described between Israel and confederacy of ten foes. We have their plan to destroy Israel. We have an outcome requested in the prayer: the utter obliteration of the foes.
That prayer request is key. Note that the foes would only need to be obliterated by God if they go ahead and execute their plan to make war. Asaph would only pray for this obliteration because he knew the planned attack would happen. In other words, the harsh prayer makes no sense unless the war is a given.
There’s nothing wrong with a prophecy that has enough key parts of a war to label it a war prophecy, even without the actual battle described. Many prophecies have only parts of the picture and must be combined to get the full picture. Proper Bible understanding demands we are more flexible in connecting the dots than how Chris White seems to do it.
2. “There is no prophecy in Psalm 83”
The video argues that the events of the psalm already existed or were fulfilled. This proves nothing. Fulfilled prophecy can happen again, and it often does in the case of dual prophecy. There is usually no way to be sure the prophecy is completely fulfilled and done because prophecy can be dual.
For example, Hosea 11:1 talks of the fulfillment of prophecy in “God’s son,” Israel, leaving Egypt. It does not look like a prophecy and maybe to Chris White would argue it was not back in the day. But to Matthew it was. He quoted Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15 as also being fulfilled when Jesus’ family moved back from Egypt to Israel. This is an example of a dual prophecy and a passage that does not look like a prophecy.
Lesson learned: it’s generally not safe to rule out any passage in the Bible as “definitely not a prophecy.”
Also, the fact is that many psalms are prophetic. The gospels show this by often stating that something Jesus did fulfill a passage from a psalm. How do we know for sure which psalms are prophetic and which are not?
Finally, contrary to what Chris says, it is highly relevant that the author of the psalm was “a seer” (2Ch 29:30) or prophet. While that does not prove the psalm is a prophecy, it certainly means the psalm warrants careful consideration as one.
3. “All the events of Psalm 83 happened in Asaph’s Day”
Some scholars say there is no historical event that matches the psalm, others do.
If it has not happened before, it would add weight to the theory that it is a future event. If it has happened, this does not mean it cannot happen again because it can always be a dual prophecy as mentioned in the previous point.
Even in the Bible history itself, it is common to see events repeat. History repeats itself because humans in similar situations will do similar things.
Therefore, even if an event like Psalm 83 happened before nothing prevents it from happening again.
4. “Similar prayers in other psalms are obviously not prophecies”
That may be so, but it does not mean anything. Psalm 83 is written by a prophet and describes a scenario similar to other war prophecies. Therefore, unlike the other prayer psalms, it is not obviously “not a prophecy.”
Most of the Bible is “not prophecy” so by this reasoning we could find similar passages to prophetic passages to debunk them being prophecies.
You could also say this specifically about the psalms of David. I bet very few if any of the psalms of David were “obviously” prophecy of the Messiah to people before Christ came. Yet the gospels record many of the events of Jesus’ life fulfilling passages in the psalms. Who knew?
Obviously, then, it’s not safe to use this line of reasoning.
5. “Bill Sallus’s responses when challenged were not convincing”
Of course his defense of his position were not convincing to someone who holds an opposite position!
A key lesson I have learned from teaching and debating the Bible is that you cannot prove your Bible position to other Bible believers. You cannot convince them you are right and they are wrong. The Bible is just written that way, open to interpretation and allowing for many views.
For example, as crazy as it sounds, you cannot prove that the Book of Revelation is future prophecy to everyone. This is why there are Preterists and Historicists out there. They are “unconvinced” by futurist arguments.
You cannot even prove that the seven letters to churches of Revelation are prophetic to everyone. By the logic of Chris White, these seven churches “existed in that time so they don’t have to be prophecy.” Yet they appear in the most complete and important prophecy book in the Bible. I’m convinced they speak of both seven church ages and seven actual first century churches. That I cannot convince others of this does not make my theory false.
Thomas Ice is quoted in the video as calling the Psalm 83 prophecy theory “utter speculation.”
Such harshness surprised me. I guess when someone believes speculation themselves (Ice is a pretrib rapture apologist), they can’t recognize real speculation when they see it, or maybe he labels everything he disagrees with as speculation?
For me, utter speculation would be something like the “2012 Mayan Prophecy” theory–based on a calendar, not the Bible. Or the popular books of Jonathan Cahn (The Harbinger, The Shemitah) which predict “stock market collapse” or “curses in Sabbath years” and other ideas not found in any literal Bible passage. Or Mark Biltz and John Hagee‘s Four Blood Moons theory which take a couple verses out of context and make predictions for Israel mainly based on cherry-picking a few past tetrads that happened somewhere around bad events for Israel.
In contrast to the above, the case for Psalm 83 speaking of a future M.E. war is quite reasonable:
- It comes from the plain literal reading of a chapter of the Bible! (Quite refreshing in this time of completely fabricated prophecies like The Harbinger, The Shemitah and Four Blood Moons.) This at least means the theory is not at all deserving of the label “utter speculation” like those books are.
- Psalm 83 is right there in a part of the Bible with many prophecies including previously unrecognized or hidden prophecies.
- Psalm 83 is written by a prophet, Asaph.
- Psalm 83 describes what other unfulfilled OT war prophecies also describe.
I’ve known of Psalm 83 and believed it to be a prophecy since the 1990s, long before Bill Salus came out with a book on it. Why? Because of its own merits listed above.
It’s fine with me if others do not find those points “convincing,” but their objections are a good example of how hard it often is to prove a negative statement like “Psalm 83 is not a prophecy.”