Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Psalm - Chapter 114 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. God brought his people out of Egypt, that land with a strange language.
    2. He made Judah his holy place and ruled over Israel.
    3. When the sea looked at God, it ran away, and the Jordan River flowed upstream.
    4. The mountains and the hills skipped around like goats.
    5. Ask the sea why it ran away or ask the Jordan why it flowed upstream.
    6. Ask the mountains and the hills why they skipped like goats!
    7. Earth, you will tremble, when the Lord God of Jacob comes near,
    8. because he turns solid rock into flowing streams and pools of water.

Psalms - Chapter 114

Entered: March 30, 2009
This psalm goes with the 115th that follows and thus is considered a part of the song of praise that the Jews sang at the close of the Passover supper. And what other subject would it use than the exodus from Egypt? When Israel left Egypt, it says, God made her His sanctuary and dominion. In reference to Israel's Red Sea and Jordan crossings it says the sea fled and Jordan turned back. These also represent the beginning and conclusion of Israel's exodus experience. Verse 4 speaks of the mountains skipping like rams and the hills like lambs. A reference, it is thought, of the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. God's glory was so overpowering in this event that it rocked the mountain. The question then is asked as to why the sea fled, the Jordan turned back and the mountains skipped? This question is answered in verse 7. It was God's presence that caused these reactions. Verse 8 ends the psalm with a reference to God's provision of water for the Israelites from a rock at Meribah.

These are but four of the many mighty acts that God performed on behalf of the Israelites during this period in her history. It is a time the Israelites should never forget, though it seems they did at several points in their history when the people turned to other gods. This formative time in Israel's relationship with God is not unlike the beginning of our own faith journey with God. Our own experiences may not involve such mighty works as these, but they are in their own way rather miraculous. They are times I can go back to in my memory and recall how I came to faith, received God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, and committed my life to His service. It is like a compass that serves as a point reference for me reminding me of my direction and guiding me "true north."

Entered: May 12, 2014

Awe and reverence of the Lord, which is expressed as fear of the Lord, is the aim of this psalm. This was the response of nature to God's bidding on behalf of Israel when God took her out of Egypt and delivered her to the land of promise. The Red Sea "fled" before God, certainly not before the Israelites, to allow their passage to the other side, away from the Egyptian army in their escape from Egypt. The Jordan "turned back" before God to allow the Israelite's entry into the promised land. Similarly, the mountains skipped "like rams," and the hills skipped "like lambs" at the Lord's presence. These are thought to be references to the response of the mountains and hills at God's presence on Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the law.

Further reference to God's affect on nature is in verse 8 in which it is remembered how the rock turned "into a pool of water" at God's bidding through Moses. In light of these select events, the psalmist, in veres 7, exhorts the whole earth to tremble "at the presence of the Lord." In all of this is the inference that we, too, should tremble at the Lord's presence. We should not take lightly or ignore the Lord and His instructions as if they were of no consequence. The writer of Hebrews pointed out that while God's voice shook the earth when He delivered the law to Moses, there comes a time when He will "shake not only the earth but also heaven." (Hebrews12:26) At that time, what can be shaken will be removed and He will establish His heavenly kingdom. This transition will be a time of judgement which all should fear except those who accept Jesus, the mediator between God and man. The writer of Hebrews says, "See that you do not reject the One who speaks; for if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven." (12:25)