Psalm 114 — The Fearful Leap Away — Reading the Psalms

1 When Israel went forth out of Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language;
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea saw it, and fled;
Jordan was driven back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like young sheep.
5 What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleest?
Thou Jordan, that thou turnest back?
6 Ye mountains, that ye skip like rams;
Ye little hills, like young sheep?
7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob;
8 Which turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.

I love this little psalm. It somehow captures the goodness and severity of God’s power with a light and funny tone. Israel, God’s people, were delivered from their distress because foreign powers were no match for God himself. The whole world was afraid.

The image of the sea & river fleeing and the mountains & hills leaping away like sheep is indeed funny. God’s authority intimidates all in his way. The creation itself parted before his power, giving place for Israel to walk. The nations, often represented as hills or mountains in scripture, leap & skip like so many sheep before the one they fear.

This is the God in whom we trust and reside. Israel dwelled with God, even in God. They resided under his cloud and fire. They lived in his law, protected by its wisdom and blessing. We today are the seats in which God sits, when we share in his word. The apostle John says, in his first letter, that when we let his teaching abide in us, we abide him him. Let us grow confident with these thoughts.

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