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I've heard it suggested that Psalm 8:2 indicates that God made mankind to defeat Satan. Is that what is being suggested or is it referring to something more mundane??

KJV Psalm 8:2  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

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Out of context, this verse can be interpreted a number of ways. But in the context of the Psalms of David, "the enemy" is used often and refers, not to Satan, but to particular enemies that either David or the nation of Israel was up against at the time.

The enemy

Looking directly either side of this Psalm, "the enemy" in Psalm 7 is described in the introduction as "Cush, a Benjaminite":

if I have requited my friend with evil, or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue me and overtake me, and let him trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. Psalm 7:4-5

In Psalm 9, however, "the enemy" refers to nations laid at the feet of Israel:

Thou hast rebuked the nations, thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy have vanished in everlasting ruins; their cities thou hast rooted out; the every memory of them has perished. Psalm 9:5-6

In Psalm 106, "the enemy" refers specifically to the Egyptians who pursued the Hebrew people to the Red Sea:

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry; and he led them through the deep as though a desert. So he saved them from the hand of the foe, and delivered them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Psalm 106:9-11

In Psalm 74, "the enemy" is also "thy foes" - an army that has defeated Israel, and then attacked and desecrated their holy places. This is as much an attack on God as it is on the nation of Israel, and the enemy is portrayed not just as Israel's enemy but also God's.

Direct thy steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! Thy foes have roared in the midst of thy holy place; they set up their own signs for signs.... ...They set thy sanctuary on fire; to the ground they desecrated the dwelling place of thy name. They said to themselves, "We will utterly subdue them"; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.... ...How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile thy name for ever? Psalm 74:3-4, 7-8, 10

This is not a reference to Satan, but those of Israel's enemies who, by their actions, position themselves also against God.

The avenger

"The avenger" is used in Numbers to describe the man who seeks revenge against someone who has killed another man (unintentionally or not).

The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. Numbers 35:16

The "avenger of blood" is apparently entitled to kill this manslayer as soon as he meets him.

The enemy and the avenger

The complete phrase "the enemy and the avenger" is also used in one other Psalm:

All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face, at the words of the taunters and revilers, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten thee, or been false to thy covenant. Psalm 44:15-17

It appears here to be a general phrase that encompasses 'all those who would seek to harm me' - physically, as opposed to "the taunters and revilers" who would do so verbally.

  • The reason many take this to refer to the Satan is that it seems to be a prayer to God where the enemy is God's enemy. Is that a misreading? – Ruminator Apr 16 '18 at 17:02
  • Thanks for the question, @Ruminator. I have added another example demonstrating that Israel's enemy IS God's enemy. If there is another example anywhere in Psalms where Satan is referenced, then I've not found it, so yes, I think the evidence shows this to be a misreading. – Possibility Apr 17 '18 at 2:18

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