Seas, Mountains, Rivers and Hills Obey God!

Psalm 114

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 114

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "If you have *faith as small as a (very small) seed, (this is what you can do). You will say to this mountain, 'Move to that place over there'. And it will go! Nothing will be impossible for you!" (Matthew 17:20) (Faith is to believe that God will answer when you pray.)

Psalm 114

v1   (This happened) when *Israel left Egypt.
  (It happened) when the people of Jacob left the people
  that spoke a strange language.

v2   (The *LORD led them) to a safe place (called) Judah.
  (He took them) to the country of Israel where he (became their) king.

v3   The sea looked and ran from (the *LORD).
  The (river) Jordan turned back.

v4   The mountains jumped as *rams jump.
  The hills jumped as *lambs jump.

v5   What happened, sea, that made you run away?
  (What happened), Jordan, that made you turn back?

v6   (What made) you mountains jump as *rams (jump)?
  (What made) you hills jump like *lambs?

v7   Earth, be like a man who is afraid, in front of the *Lord.
  (Be afraid) when the God of Jacob is near.

v8   He made the rock into a pool of water
  and the hard rock into water coming from the ground.

The Story of Psalm 114

This is the second "Egyptian hallel". "The Story of Psalm 113" explains what this means. 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 2500 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 B.C. The letters B.C. 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.

What Psalm 114 means

What happened when the people of Israel left Egypt? Several things happened:

    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).

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

Verse 2: "*LORD" 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.

Verse 3: The 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".

Verse 4: Here *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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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 Godís people, or

    Jacob himself, who *worshipped God.

Something to do

1.  Read about the Egyptian hallels in Psalm 113 of this set of psalms.

2.  Read about the miracles (great things) that God did in this psalm. If you do not have a Bible, here are some of the verses.

A dry path through the Red Sea (from Exodus 10)

v13 Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand where you are. Watch to see how the *LORD will save you today. You can see Egyptians today. You will never see them again.

v14 The *LORD will fight for you. You need not do anything."

v15 Then the *LORD said to Moses, "Why are you talking to me? Speak to the people of Israel. Tell them to move (towards the sea).

v16 But you must lift up the stick in your hand. Hold it over the sea and make a valley in it. Then the people of Israel will go on dry (ground) through the middle of the sea."

v21 And Moses lifted up his hand over the sea. And the *LORD made the sea go back. There was a strong east wind all that night. It made the sea into dry land. There was a path through the water.

v22 And the people of Israel went into the middle of the sea. They went on dry ground. There was a wall of water on their right, and on their left.

A dry path through the River Jordan (from Joshua 3)

v11 (Joshua said), "Look, the ark (box) of the *covenant of the *Lord of all the earth, will go in front of you into the River Jordan.

v12 Take 12 men, one from each tribe (large family) of Israel.

v13 This is what will happen. The feet of the *priests (special servants of God) that carry the ark will stand in the water of Jordan. Then the waters of the Jordan will become separate. (The ark is) the *LORDís. And he is the *Lord of all the earth. The waters will stand up like a wall."

An *earthquake at Sinai (from Exodus 19)

v18 There was smoke on the mountain called Sinai. This was because the *LORD came down to it in fire. The smoke of the fire rose up as from a very hot fire. There was an *earthquake in the whole mountain.

Water from the dry rock (from Exodus 17)

v1 All the people of Israel went from the wild country near Sinai. They went from place to place. They did what the *LORD told them to do. They stopped in a place called Rephidim. But there was no water for the people to drink.

v2 So the people were angry with Moses. "Give us water to drink", they said. But Moses said to them, "Why are you angry with me? Why are you making the *LORD do something?"

v4 And Moses prayed to the *LORD. He said, 'What should I do with these people? They want to kill me!í

v5 And the *LORD said to Moses, "Go back to the people. Take with you the leaders of the people of Israel. And take with you your stick, the one that you hit the River Nile with.

v6 Then I will stand in front of you. (I will stand) on a rock in a place called Horeb. And you will hit the rock and water will come out of it. The people may drink it." And Moses did this so all the leaders of the people of Israel could see it.

Word List

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

earthquake ~ an earthquake is when the ground moves.

faith ~ belief in someone or something; in the Psalms, belief in God.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

lamb ~ a young sheep.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

priest ~ a servant of God in his *temple.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).

ram ~ a male sheep.

temple ~ a place where people meet to worship God.

worship ~ you tell someone that they are very great. And you tell them that you love them.


© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

Visit our website: