Weds 16 December - Psalm 114
1 When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
2 Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
4 the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
5 Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
6 Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
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Meditation on Psalm 114
This is part of a group of Psalms (113-118) that are referred to as the ‘Hallel Psalms’. They were used in Jewish liturgy at their great religious festivals. Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the celebration meal and Psalms 115-118 were sung after the meal.
Here is a wonderful summary of the history of the people of God when they came out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea and then crossing the River Jordan to go into Canaan.
Just think back to the rescue from Egypt. The people had been there for 400 years but they were only. They were only strangers there. Read Genesis 15:13-17
This was backed up when the LORD spoke to Moses, as recorded in Exodus 6:6-8.
This is what the Psalmist is celebrating as he looks back at this great deliverance from an alien land and a foreign language.
Pause for a moment and bring this up to today. We can celebrate a great deliverance as God has intervened in our lives. He has ‘called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.’ 1 Peter 2:9
As the old song says, ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through; my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.’
Read again the way God brought His people (remember, there were ‘600,000 men on foot, besides women and children + many other people + large herds of livestock.’ (Exodus 12:37) That is some group!
Judah was recognised as the lead tribe of the people so he represents all the people who, when they came out of Egypt, they had the presence of God with them by day and by night.
Matthew Henry says this ‘He set up His sanctuary among them, in which He gave them the special tokens of His presence with them and promised to receive their homage and tribute. Happy are the people that have God’s sanctuary among them.’
We, too, have the presence of God with us – we will celebrate this over Christmas – i.e. ‘Immanuel, God with us.’
Verses 3-4 give us an understanding of the power of the presence of God for all of creation is under His control.
‘The sea fled.’
‘The Jordan turned back.’ I wonder how those who were carrying the temple felt when Joshua told them ‘as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the edge of the water’s edge, the waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.’ Bear in mind that the River Jordan was in full flow – ‘at flood stage all during harvest.’ I might have asked to be excused from carrying the ark!
‘The mountain leapt …’ This looks back to Mount Sinai when Moses went up the mountain to receive God’s instructions. Read Exodus 19:16-25.
Perhaps the reference to ‘rams and lambs’ leaping suggests that they react like this when either frightened or full of joy.
Verses 5-6 ask the same question four times – ‘Why?, ‘Why’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’ did these events happen? It causes us to remember that EVERYTHING is under the control of the LORD, the Creator of the universe.
That’s why the Psalmist answers his own questions in Verses 7-8.
We, too, can have absolute confidence in the same God who provides for His people today as He did then when He brough water out of the rock on two occasions – read Exodus 17:5-6 and Numbers 20:2-11.
We, too, can sing a song – ‘How great is our God.’
Thursday 17 December - Psalm 115
Friday 18 December - Psalm 116
Saturday 19 December - Psalm 117
Sunday 20 December - Psalm 118
Monday 21 December - Psalm 119
Tuesday 22 December- Psalm 120