How often are your prayers only requests for God? How many times, if those requests were fulfilled, would they help others come to know God? In Psalm 83, Asaph thought about how his requests would help others to come to know the one true God.
At the beginning of Psalm 83, Asaph asks God to intervene on Israel’s behalf in the face of their enemies. Asaph continues by listing many grievances against their enemies as to why God should deliver Israel from their enemies. After listing all the problems that Israel is having with their enemies and listing who those enemies are, Asaph asks God to completely destroy their enemies.
Asaph asks God to destroy their enemies as He did in the past during the times of Gideon and Deborah and Barak. He continues to ask God to destroy them to the point that they are like whirling dust or chaff in the wind. In Psalm 83:16-18, his list goes on to ask that God would make their enemies humiliated, ashamed, and dismayed. He says,
“16 Fill their faces with dishonor,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
17 Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever,
And let them be humiliated and perish,
18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.”
In these verses, Asaph not only asks for their enemies to be ashamed, dismayed, and humiliated, he also explains why he asks for this. Everything Asaph asked God to do to their enemies, he asked so that they would seek God and know that He alone is Most High over all the earth.
Asaph could have just asked God to destroy their enemies because Israel was God’s chosen people. He could have just asked for protection from their enemies because Israel knows God is all-powerful. He could have just asked for deliverance from their enemies because Israel worships God. But Asaph didn’t. He asked for deliverance so that God would be praised by their enemies and that they would come to know God.
In the same way, we need to be a light in this world that would bring others to glorify God. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they might see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Israel was created to be a nation that would worship God, even when the nations around them didn’t. Through this, they had an opportunity to spread the truth about God. Asaph knew this and wanted Israel’s light to shine before their enemies so that they would come to know God and glorify Him. Similarly, we also are surrounded by people who do not know the truth about God. We were called to be a light to the world so that we could spread the good news with others and to shine our light before the world so that God would be praised and that others around us would come to know God.