My family has been reading through the Psalms together for the past few months, and the other day we read Psalm 83. Reading like a Who’s Who of hostility, this psalm lists “Edom and the Ishmaelites”, “Moab and the Hagrites,” “Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek,” “Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre”, and “Even Assyria” in the space of a few verses.
In an attempt to give my family a sense of who these various enemies of Israel were, I opened the Accordance Bible Atlas and overlaid the Divided Kingdoms region layer. I clicked the plus icon to magnify that zone so that it filled my entire workspace, and then had one of my children read the list of enemies again. As she read each name, I pointed out its location on the map, so that my family could clearly see that Israel was surrounded by all these nations. I summarized by saying, “You see, it’s not that the psalmist is paranoid; they really were all out to get Israel!”
Showing all of these ancient nations naturally raised the question of where these places are today, so I merely switched the region layer pop-up from “Divided Kingdoms” to “Modern Nations” to show that Edom, Moab, and Ammon are now part of modern Jordan, ancient Philistia is now part of modern Israel, and ancient Tyre is in modern Lebanon.
This kind of geographical orientation was incredibly easy to do, and it helped make our discussion of the psalm much more engaging. If you’re not using the Atlas as an impromptu teaching tool, you definitely should be!