Psalm 83 may have been written at the time when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah. If so, it is likely an extension of the prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 6 – 12 in which Jehoshaphat asks for the LORD’s help when a great multitude came against Jeshoshaphat to battle (2 Chronicles 20:1). The author of Psalm 83 states that God’s enemies “have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones” (Psalms 83:3).
The psalmist speaks as if God is unaware of what is going on, but really his prayer is an acknowledgement of the situation rather than a declaration of the facts. Jehoshaphat had received a visit from Jehu the son of Hanani the seer after he returned from fighting in Ramoth-gilead with king Ahab. Jehu said to king Jehoshaphat, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Chronicles 19:2).
Jehoshaphat may have assumed the attack against Judah was his punishment for helping Ahab and that he would be defeated because God’s wrath was upon him. Instead of accepting defeat, “Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3). Jehoshaphat showed reverence to the LORD and put himself in a position of receiving God’s mercy rather than judgment.
Jehoshaphat’s justification for receiving God’s mercy was “that men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, Art the most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18). If God’s people were destroyed, God’s reputation would be damaged. Even though Jehoshaphat deserved to be punished for fighting in Ramoth-gilead with Ahab, he wasn’t because his enemies were God’s enemies also.
God’s message of deliverance was delivered by a Levite of the sons of Asaph. He told Jehoshaphat, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). Jehoshaphat was miraculously delivered. After all of his enemies were dead, “when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stript off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much” (2 Chronicles 20:25).