A devotional on Psalm 114
1 When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
What a delightful, pithy psalm we get to study today. The Exodus from Egypt is one of God’s greatest feats on earth for his people. Just as important is its symbolism for the spiritual journey of the Christian. Upon freeing us from slavery and death through the salvation of our souls, we become his sanctuary. We become his dominion. Sanctuary – qodesh – means a sacred place dedicated and set apart to be holy. The word saint comes from that. Dominion – memshalah – means rule, reign, power. God rules over your life and then gives you reflective dominion over life and principalities. That is who you are beloved saint of God!
So what did the Red Sea see that made it flee in haste? What did the Jordan River see that made it reverse its course? Paul paints an eye-opening picture for us:
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did… We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, … Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Cor. 10:1-4, 6, 9, 11.
Jesus Christ was with them in the Exodus! Jesus Christ himself. In Egypt, in the wilderness, clear to Canaan. The Rock. Guarding. Guiding. Being put to the test. That’s what the Red Sea saw and split. That’s what the Jordan saw and hightailed it in the wrong direction! That’s why the mountains skipped like rams and the hills like lambs. They were glorying in the physical presence of their creator. They were praising him – halal. Yesterday I reminded you that halal means to boast and glory in, to rave, to celebrate, to make a show, to act madly. It means to dance like an unconstrained little child. Well, if the people weren’t seeing him, the mountains and the hills sure were!
You can’t encounter Jesus Christ and just sit there. He shows up and rocks start to shudder. That’s how he moves the mountains. Tremble O earth, at the presence of the Lord. Elements morph in his presence. THE ROCK turns to water. Electrons and protons and neutrons realign as they bow down in worship. Yes, that Rock that followed the Israelites from Africa, across the Sea, through the wilderness, and into Canaan turned to water. God Almighty turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
Years later, Jesus would encounter a thirsty Samaritan woman at the well in the wilderness. She had a life altering encounter with him in no time. “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10. If she knew, beloved, if only she knew that she was talking to the living water. If only she knew that she would drink from the same spiritual rock that the Israelites drank from in their wilderness.
By verse 28, she knew. She dropped that vessel and took off for town. She was a new woman. She’d been transformed. Her heart of stone had melted. She knew why the sea split and the river reversed course. She knew why the mountains leapt and the hills skilled. She went off to tell others and to bring them back to him. O, she knew Beloved. Do you?
Reread today’s short passage with this perspective. Let it move you.