Psalm 114 Tremble at the Presence of the Lord (1) When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, (2) Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. (3) The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. (4) The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. (5) What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? (6) O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? (7) Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, (8) who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water. ESV
Psalm 114 is titled The Power of God in His Deliverance of Israel (NKJV), God’s Deliverance of Israel from Egypt (NASB), God Brought Israel from Egypt (ICB), among others. This song is the second in what Bible scholars call the “Egyptian Hallel.” Hallel means “praise” in Hebrew and these songs were (are) sung during the Passover celebration, Psalm 113-114 before the meal and 115-118 after the meal. Psalm 113-118 are reminders of God’s provision and faithfulness to His people in Egypt.
It is fitting that the people would continue to sing these songs in remembrance of that time during the Passover, the night the Jewish people celebrate the Angel of the Lord “passing over” their homes during the last plague before they were freed from slavery in Egypt.
Jesus sang this song the night He was betrayed.
True poetry has here reached its climax: no human mind has ever been able to equal, much less to excel, the grandeur of this Psalm. God is spoken of as leading forth his people from Egypt to Canaan, and causing the whole earth to be moved at his coming.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Psalm 114 is a beautiful little song of God’s provision and faithfulness and power.
When the Israelites escaped from Egypt- when the family of Jacob left that foreign land- the land of Judah became God's sanctuary, and Israel became his kingdom. Psalm 114:1-2 NLT When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion. Psalm 114:1-2 NKJV
The miracles and the deliverance from Egypt are the central story of God’s redemption and faithfulness in the Old Testament.
Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was the central act of redemption under the Old Covenant. It was to be constantly remembered and celebrated, and this song joins in the celebration.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
Pastor Guzik goes on to explain that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central act of redemption in God’s Story as told in the New Testament. The people of ancient Israel did not have Jesus’s life to celebrate, therefore, they remembered God’s faithfulness and deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
The Israelites were slaves for over four hundred in Egypt. They struggled to survive in a foreign land with a “strange language.” But God did not leave them there, just as He will not leave His children in a “foreign land” forever. This is not our home either, as Egypt was not the home of the Israelites, even centuries after they arrived seeking help during a famine. We, too, walk this land as strangers in a foreign land, sometimes even feeling as if the world speaks a “strange language,” certainly a language void of truth and morality. But . . .
God is faithful. In His time, He will bring His children home. He will redeem what is His.
Judah was the largest tribe and from Judah’s line would come David, Solomon, and eventually, Jesus. Judah became God’s sanctuary. The tribe of Judah became the place God would reside.
No longer would the Israelites be ruled over by another people, Israel would be the Lord’s kingdom.
The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way! The water of the Jordan River turned away. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs! What's wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way? What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away? Why, mountains, did you skip like rams? Why, hills, like lambs? Psalm 114:3-6 NLT The sea saw it and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, that you turned back? O mountains, that you skipped like rams? O little hills, like lambs? Psalm 114:3-6 NKJV
The psalmist speaks of the parting at the Red Sea (Exodus 14) and the crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3) into the Promised Land. Bible scholars see the description of a “spiritual journey” here as the psalmist talks of the beginning of Israel’s exodus from Egypt with the Red Sea parting and the end of their wanderings in the wilderness and the crossing of the Jordan into God’s Holy Promised Land. The idea almost following the life of a believer; God rescues, we walk on through a world that is of a strange language, then He calls us home. What a beautiful description of God’s faithfulness.
Why did the sea part and river turn back? Because the Lord went before His people. All of creation submits in the presence of God. The mountains, the hills, the rivers, the seas all step aside in reverence to God, the Creator.
And now, all of creation waits for Jesus’s return. All of creation waits to be set free, to become what it was intended to be by a perfect Creator (Romans 8:18-23).
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock. Psalm 114:7-8 NLT Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. Psalm 114:7-8 NKJV
The psalmist calls upon the earth and all of creation to tremble in expectation of the coming of the Lord. He is coming; He will redeem His children. He will set all to right.
This psalm closes with the reminder that God provided water out of rock for His children as they wandered in the wilderness. He is all we need. He is our protector and savior. God is our provider.
He is all we need.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." John 7:37-38 NIV
Father in heaven, thank you for your word and the promises within. Thank you for your faithfulness to Israel and throughout time to your children. Thank you for the psalms that remind us of your faithfulness, that during hard times of our own to stop and remember your faithfulness. You were faithful to your children; you will be faithful to your children. We love you. Give us strength today. Amen.