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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 114

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


This brief psalm is justly considered as one of the most beautiful, graphic, and animated of the historical poems. It passes rapidly over the exodus, the wilderness life, and the great miracle at Jordan. Little is left for comment, its language, metaphors, and allusions being transparent. The apostrophe of Psalms 114:5-6 is bold, and lends to the poem a somewhat dramatic character. The tone and spirit of the psalm are triumphant, indicating an occasion of general joy, while the retrospection identifies it with the later period of the Hebrew lyrics. The strophic divisions are four, and clearly marked, each containing two verses of two lines each. The first, (Psalms 114:1-2,) refer to the exodus, and the honour conferred on the holy nation; the second, (Psalms 114:3-4,) the two great miracles of the Red Sea and Jordan, which opened and closed the wanderings, with a glance at Sinai; the third, (Psalms 114:5-6,) an apostrophe to the terrified sea and mountains; the fourth, (Psalms 114:7-8,) a call upon the world to tremble before Jehovah.

Verse 1

1. Strange language A foreign and unintelligible language. See Psalms 81:5. The word occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament, and the suggestion is, that there could be no natural bond between Israel and a people of a strange dialect; and this barbarity of language not unfrequently became an occasion of enmity. It was plain enough that it was out of the divine order that Israel should dwell among such a people, (see Deuteronomy 28:49; Isaiah 28:11; Isaiah 33:19,) except for punishment.

Jeremiah 5:15. On the strangeness of the dialect of Egypt to the Hebrews see Genesis 42:23

Verse 2

2. Judah was his sanctuary That is, after the departure of Israel from Egypt, “Judah” became “his sanctuary.” The author certainly belonged to a late period, when the rivalry of Ephraim had yielded to the power of Judah; and Jerusalem, then belonging to the kingdom of Judah, became, in the eyes of the nation, the holy city. The pronoun “his” refers to God, though the name is suppressed till Psalms 114:7 a peculiarity of the psalm.

Verse 3

3. The sea… Jordan “The dividing of the sea opens, and the dividing of the Jordan closes, the journey through the desert to Canaan.” Delitzsch. Between these points are grouped rapidly the wonders celebrated in the psalm.

Verse 4

4. Mountains skipped That is, Horeb and Sinai moved to and fro. The word rendered skip, here, indicates a hasty, undulating motion, a coming and retiring, as from fright. In Exodus 19:18 it is said, “The whole mount quaked greatly.” See the same figure, Psalms 29:6; Habakkuk 3:8. The phenomenon is that of a violent earthquake.

Verse 5

5. O thou sea The apostrophe is bold and beautiful. For other specimens of this figure see Deuteronomy 32:1; 2 Samuel 1:21

Verse 7

7. Tremble, thou earth “Tremble,” here, answers to skip in Psalms 114:4; Psalms 114:6, and is more literal. The psalmist advances to the imperative mode of address, commanding the whole earth to tremble at the presence of the Lord… of the God of Jacob, in his exalted majesty and power.

Verse 8

8. The flint into a fountain “Flint” is parallel to rock in the preceding line, and means no more than hard rock, as Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:13. The Septuagint has it sharp rock, as if it were a crag.

Fountain of waters Corresponds to standing water, both indicating a permanent and abundant supply. It refers, probably, to the rock Horeb, where the miraculous supply of water continued nearly a year. See notes on Psalms 78:15-16.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 114". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-114.html. 1874-1909.
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