Bible Commentary: Psalm 114

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Psalm 114

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Psalm 114, still sung with Psalm 113 prior to the Jewish Passover meal as noted above, is a song about the power of God in delivering the Israelites from Egypt, bringing them into the Promised Land and preserving them in the wilderness in between.

Stating that the Israelites "went out...from a people of strange language" (verse 1) is meant to stress the foreignness of the Egyptians and their ways (compare Psalms 81:5 Psalms 81:5This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.
American King James Version×
)--particularly their foreignness from God's ways. This would also seem to indicate that the Israelites retained their own language while in Egypt. Recall that they were not scattered throughout Egypt but had been settled in the land of Goshen in the Nile Delta region. Sadly, the Israelites were nevertheless corrupted from living in Egypt. Thus, coming out of Egypt was representative of coming out of Egypt's ways. "In terms of 'biblical geography,' Egypt represents the world and the bondage of the sinner to its evil forces (Ephesians 2:1-3 Ephesians 2:1-3 [1] And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
American King James Version×
)" (Warren Wiersbe, Be Exultant-Psalms 90-150: Praising God for His Mighty Works, 2004, note on Psalms 114:1 Psalms 114:1When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;
American King James Version×

When God led Israel out of Egypt, the nation became His sanctuary and dominion (verse 2)--that is, His temple and sovereign domain or kingdom. God told Moses, "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8 Exodus 25:8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
American King James Version×
). And in dwelling among them, the people would in an extended sense become His holy dwelling place--His sanctuary. God further said: "I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 29:45-46 Exodus 29:45-46 [45] And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. [46] And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
American King James Version×
). Today God dwells within His people, true Christians, who constitute spiritual Israel--the spiritual temple of God.

Verses 3-6 concern the miraculous parting of the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan River for Israel to cross--at the beginning and end of their wilderness wanderings. The Red Sea is figuratively portrayed as "seeing" the dominion of God among His people and "fleeing" from His manifest power. The Jordan is personified as intentionally turning back from its normal flow. In concert with these events, we also see mountains and hills "skipping" like frightened lambs. This would seem to indicate major earthquake activity on one or both of these occasions.

Continuing the earthquake imagery, verse 7 directs the earth to tremble at God's presence. This probably also is instruction to all the earth's people to likewise tremble with appropriate fear and respect before God. Ironically, those with proper fear need not be terror-stricken--for God uses His great power to benefit His people. It was the awesome presence of God that gave the Israelites water in the desert to preserve them from the time they left Egypt to the time they entered the Promised Land (verse 8).

Even so, God's presence within His people today will preserve them following their personal "Exodus" from the sin of Egypt and "Red Sea baptism," giving them spiritual drink from the divine Rock (compare 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 [1] Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. [5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [6] Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
American King James Version×
, 1 Corinthians 10:11 1 Corinthians 10:11Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.
American King James Version×
). And by His mighty power He will see us through to the future "Jordan crossing" into the spiritual "Promised Land"--the Kingdom of God.

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