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Psalm 114

God’s Wonders at the Exodus


When Israel went out from Egypt,

the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,


Judah became God’s sanctuary,

Israel his dominion.



The sea looked and fled;

Jordan turned back.


The mountains skipped like rams,

the hills like lambs.



Why is it, O sea, that you flee?

O Jordan, that you turn back?


O mountains, that you skip like rams?

O hills, like lambs?



Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the L ord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,


who turns the rock into a pool of water,

the flint into a spring of water.

1 When Israel went out from Egypt That exodus being a remarkable pledge and symbol of God’s love for the children of Abraham, it is not surprising that it should be so frequently called to remembrance. In the beginning of the psalm, the prophet informs us that the people whom God purchased at so great a price are no more their own. The opinion of certain expositors, that at that time the tribe of Judah was consecrated to the service of God, according to what is said in Exodus 19:6, and 1 Peter 2:9, appears to me foreign to the prophet’s design. All doubt about the matter is removed by what is immediately subjoined, God’s taking Israel under his rule, which is simply a repetition of the same sentiment in other words. Judah being the most powerful and numerous of all the tribes, and occupying the chief place among them, here takes the precedency of the rest of the people. At the same time, it is very evident that the honor which is in a peculiar manner ascribed to them, belongs equally to the whole body of the people. 359359     “Judah represents here the whole people of Israel, as Joseph does, in Psalm 81:6. The reason assigned by Kimchi for this use of יהודה here is, that at the time of the departure from Egypt, Judah was considered the head or chief of the tribes; see Genesis 49:8-10. This, however, is mere conjecture. If it be necessary to assign reasons for the distinction here conferred on this tribe, I should mention as one:, that the ark was kept in the region occupied by the descendants of Judah, and, as another, that from him the Messiah was to spring.” — Phillips. When God is said to be sanctified, it must be understood that the prophet is speaking after the manner of men, because, in himself, God is incapable of increase or diminution. Judah is called his holiness, 360360     Gods holiness being often taken for the keeping his promise sacred or inviolate, as in Psalm 102:9, when, reference being made to the immutability of his covenant, it is added, “holy [as in another respect, reverend] is his name;” some, as Hammond and Cresswell, suppose that the meaning here is, that God’s dealings towards Judah — the people of the Jews, were a demonstration of his faithfulness in performing his promise made to Abraham long before. and Israel his dominion, 361361     Hammond reads, “And Israel his power,” by which he understands that Israel was an instance of his power; that God, in his acting for Israel, declared his omnipotence most signally. because his holy majesty, which hitherto had been little known, secured the veneration of all who had witnessed the displays of his incredible power. In delivering his people, God erected a kingdom for himself and procured respect for his sacred name; if then they do not constantly reflect upon such a remarkable instance of his kindness, their insensibility is totally inexcusable.

3 The sea saw, and fled He does not enumerate in succession all the miracles which were wrought at that time, but briefly alludes to the sea, which, though a lifeless and senseless element, is yet struck with terror at the power of God. Jordan did the same, and the very mountains shook. It is in a poetical strain that the Psalmist describes the receding of the sea and of the Jordan. The description, however, does not exceed the facts of the case. The sea, in rendering such obedience to its Creator, sanctified his name; and Jordan, by its submission, put honor upon his power; and the mountains, by their quaking, proclaimed how they were overawed at the presence of his dreadful majesty. By these examples it is not meant to celebrate God’s power more than the fatherly care and desire which he manifests for the preservation of the Church; and, accordingly, Israel is very properly distinguished from the sea, the Jordan, and the mountains — there being a very marked difference between the chosen people and the insensate elements.

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