Psalm 114

114:0This is the second ‘Egyptian hallel.’ Bible students are not sure who the psalmist was. The psalmist was the person that wrote the psalm. They are not sure when he wrote it. But they know why he wrote it. It was to tell people what God did when he led his people from Egypt. There they were slaves, but now they were free.

Maybe he wrote the psalm when the Jews went into their ‘Promised Land.’ This was the country that God promised to Abraham. The north part they called Israel, the south part Judah. Today these places are Palestine and Israel. Today, Israel is the south part that was Judah 2,500 years ago! This easily confuses us! Or perhaps the psalmist wrote it before or when Assyria beat the north part called Israel. Assyria took the people of Israel away. They put other people in their place. These other people became the Samaritans.

We need to know what verse 2 means. Then we can give the psalm a date. If Judah and Israel are countries, then it means the psalmist wrote it between 950 and 650 BC. The letters BC mean ‘years Before Christ came to the earth.’ If Judah and Israel are the people, then the date could be earlier. This translation makes them places. But in verse 1, Israel means ‘the people of Jacob.’ This is another name for the Jewish people.

Seas, Mountains, Rivers and Hills Obey God!

114:1This psalm tells us what happened when the people of Israel left Egypt:

– God led them to the Promised Land, (verse 2).

– God led them through the Red Sea, which became dry for them, (verse 3).

– God led them over the River Jordan. It also became dry for them, (verse 3).

– Mountains and hills like Sinai seemed to jump like animals, (verse 4).

– God gave them water from the rocks in dry places, (verse 8).

1 This happened when Israel left Egypt.

It happened when the people of Jacob left the people

that spoke a strange language.

114:1The ‘strange language’ was Egyptian. The Jews spoke Hebrew and wrote their psalms in Hebrew. Here ‘Israel’ means the people, not the place.

2 The Lord led them to a safe place called Judah.

He took them to the country of Israel where he became their king.

114:2Lord’ is a special name for God. It is the covenant name. A covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here God agrees to love and send help to his people; the people agree to love and obey God. The covenant started when God led his people from Egypt to the Promised Land. Some Bible students translate verse 2 in a different way:

The people of Judah worshipped (the Lord). The people of Israel made him their king.

This makes the verse about the covenant, not about the land. The people worshipped (or loved and were the servants of) the Lord. The Lord was their king. He gave them help and he was their leader. Both translations teach us something about God.

3 The sea looked and ran from the Lord.

The river Jordan turned back.

114:3The sea was the Red Sea. It is between Egypt and the Promised Land. Exodus 14:10-22 tells us what happened. A dry path appeared in the sea! The psalmist says that the waters ran away (or fled) from God. This is poetry, or a special way to use words. The same thing happened to the River Jordan. The story is in Joshua 3:7-17. ‘Turned back’ means that the water ‘stopped going.’

4 The mountains jumped as rams jump.

The hills jumped as lambs jump.

114:4Here rams are male sheep, and lambs are young sheep. The hills and mountains jumped like animals when the Lord was near. Again, this is poetry. Maybe the psalmist means the earthquake in Exodus 19:18-20. An earthquake is when the ground moves.

5 What happened, sea, that made you run away?

What happened, Jordan, that made you turn back?

6 What made you mountains jump as rams jump?

What made you hills jump like lambs?

114:6Verses 5 and 6 ask, ‘Why did the sea become dry? Why did the River Jordan stop? Why was there an earthquake?’ The answer is in verses 7 and 8.

7 Earth, be like a man who is afraid, in front of the Lord.

Be afraid when the God of Jacob is near.

8 He made the rock into a pool of water

and the hard rock into water coming from the ground.

114:8Verses 7 and 8: God is near. So, the earth is like a man who is afraid. Here God is ‘the Lord.’ This is not the same Hebrew word as Lord. Lord is a word that means ‘master’, (someone that you must obey). He is so powerful that he can make water come from a dry rock! The story is in Exodus 17:1-7. In verse 7, Jacob means either all God's people, or Jacob himself, who worshipped God.