My wife loves birthdays. Growing up, her family really made a big deal about birthdays. So much so that her dad invented the Birthday Beagle as a symbolic character of the season (and they had beagles growing up). This is a tradition we’ve carried on that at some point during the birthday, the doorbell would ring and a small present would be waiting outside with a note signed from the Birthday Beagle—it’s a paw print because fictional dogs can’t write.
To the nation of Israel, God’s deliverance of the exodus from Egypt was like a birthday for the whole nation. This birthday was (supposed to be) celebrated every year with the celebration of Passover. Psalm 114 (along with 113) was recited or sung every year before the Passover meal in remembrance of God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt.
Psalm 114 describes the events of the Exodus in extremely poetic language. It is important to note that in Genesis 32:28, God renamed Jacob to Israel. Thus, verse 1 is speaking of “Israel” as the nation that came out of Egypt (i.e. the exodus), who are the same as the descendants of “Jacob.” Verse 2 on the other hand, is not speaking of the people necessarily, but the land that they inhabited (the Promised Land). Unfortunately, this Land (and nation) had become divided into the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah. It is likely, however, that the psalmist is simply referring to God’s abiding presence and rule of the nation as a whole through referring to its parts (this figure of speech is known as a merism and is common in Hebrew poetry).
To give insight into some of the poetry of verses 3–6, God divided the waters first, with the Red Sea when Israel left Egypt, and second, when Israel entered the Promised Land crossing the Jordan River. Likewise, after the Exodus when the nation of Israel was at Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments, God descended and the mountain quaked (Exodus 19:18).
Verse 7 is interesting. What is a proper response to God’s mighty acts of power with which He rescued a nation? Fearing the Lord, in the Old Testament, was usually synonymous with salvation, thus after reading of God’s actions, he calls us to “tremble.” Not only should we tremble, but we should tremble before the Lord. “Lord” here is the word adon, which we often transliterate “Adoni.”
Although “Adoni” may refer to God, it is also a word used of a nobleman or someone of a high earthly status. All that to say, it could be generic. However, if there were any confusion, the psalmist let’s us know, this “lord” is not just any lord, it is “the Lord, the God of Jacob.” And not only is He a God who delivers, but He is a God who provides. He can turn a rock in the desert into water (Numbers 20:11).
Is there a time in your calendar to remember what the Lord has done? When you praise Him for your rescue and His provision? The amazing thing is, after Christ, our hearts are God’s “sanctuary” and our lives are “His dominion.” How does that strike you today? Are you worshipping God as someone of status or are you worshipping Him for who He really is, the God of Jacob, a deliverer, a provider, a mighty rescuer, to whom belongs all glory and honor forever and ever.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate