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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Psalms 114

 

 

Verses 1-8

INTRODUCTION

Date and Authorship unknown; ascribed to the three Hebrew children, Esther and Mordscai.

BONDAGE AND DELIVERANCE

(Psa )

I. The bondage was degrading. "Israel," "Egypt". The descendants of the "prince with God" making bricks for Pharaoh. So is the bondage of sin. All men are princes. They have crown rights by virtue of their divine parentage and royal brotherhood. They should occupy thrones. All their faculties are regal. Yet how are they employed? In a bondage that is humiliating because of

(1) The master that is served;

(2) The nature of the service;

(3) The wretchedness of the remuneration.

II. The bondage was unnatural. "The house of Jacob."

1. Once a free and independent tribe, who previously to this had never been in bondage to any man. So man was once independent and free. No evil forces were permitted to exercise dominion over him.

(1.) His reason was free. All God's vast domain was open to its scrutiny.

(2.) His will was free. No power was permitted to tamper with it, and no predestination fettered it.

(3.) His affections were free.

(4.) His soul was free. All this shows that the bondage under which he groans is not natural to man.

2. A family of a long, ancient and honourable lineage. They were not a people of yesterday, yet they were slaves. Man is a member of a household which dates its origin from before the foundation of the world. The eternal God is his father, and Christ his elder brother. With an ancestry compared with which the oldest dynasty on earth is but of yesterday, man is enslaved. Surely this is the climax of unnaturalness. For the heirs of the Mowbrays, the Bourbons, the Guelphs, the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, to be in bondage were enough to strike the world dumb with astonishment. Man is a child of God, and yet he is a slave.

III. The bondage was exasperating. "From a people of strange language." These are circumstances which mitigate that "execrable sum of all human vilanies"—slavery. These obtained largely among the Jews. Often the slave spoke the same language, was protected by the same laws, and was of the same blood as his master. Not so with the poor Egyptian slave.

1. There was no community of feeling and sentiment. Hence terrible oppression and thankless service. Between man and his oppressors there is nothing naturally in common. Man knows it. Satan knows it. Hence the terrible burden of sin and woe, and the terrible insurrections of reason and moral sense against the tyranny.

2. There was no community of language between the Egyptian and the Jew. Hence misunderstanding and distress. Man does not take altogether naturally to the language of hell. Facility in the understanding and use of that language requires long practice, and that practice never makes perfect. Hence constant misunderstandings. Good is represented by evil; evil by good. Ignorance exchanges places with knowledge, and knowledge with ignorance. Pain is substituted for pleasure, and pleasure for pain. And amidst these conflicting dialects man is bewildered; and it is of that bewilderment that Satan takes advantage.

3. There is no community of law. There is a show of one. Liberal terms are offered. Emoluments, honours, rewards, are promised. But there is nothing to make Satan keep his own terms; and, after years of painful and unremunerative toil, the "wages of sin is death." All these circumstances combine to make the sinners' bondage most exasperating.

IV. This bondage was followed by a Divine Redemption.

1. That redemption was an historical fact. "When?" Israel looked back upon it as such. So is the redemption of the world by Christ. The Church can be traced back to it without a missing link. Institutions were connected with it, date from it, and are still commemorative of it. In the one case, the Passover, &c., Scripture references and doctrines. In the other, all evangelical preaching commenced with it and refers to it. One day in the year is set apart for its contemplation, and one rite most impressively sets it forth.

2. That redemption was nut an iniquitous proceeding. "Went out." They were not driven out or stolen out, but went out, through the divinely supported claim of their national rights. Pharaoh had no claim upon them. His service was robbery. Contrast and analogy.

(1.) Contrast. Man is subject to the rightful claims of law on his service. Those claims have been deliberately disregarded, and the law imposes a curse and a penalty. Man is redeemed from the law by Christ bearing that curse and suffering that penalty.

(2.) Analogy. Satan has no right to man's service. When that ceases Satan suffers no wrong. When man is released he is not stolen or driven, nor does he flee. He marches forth in honourable triumph, because Satan is overthrown and the law satisfied.

(3.) That redemption was the beginning of their national life. "When Israel.… House of Jacob." Before they were merely a tribe; in Egypt merely a caste; when redeemed, a nation. By Christ's redemption those who were not a people became the people of God and a holy nation. Before men were disintegrated members of the human race; afterwards brothers, friends, one in life, one in feeling, one in aim. Let political rulers, social agitators, and moral philanthropists note this. The redemption of Jesus Christ has succeeded in social purification and unity where every other scheme has failed.

IN CONCLUSION.—(i.) If the Son has made us free, we are free indeed. (ii.) Stand fast in that liberty, &c.

THE TEMPLE AND THE KINGDOM

(Psa )

God dwells among His people in a twofold character: as an object of worship, and as a monarch to rule. Hence in the sanctuary He secures His people's reverence and love. On His throne and over His dominion He secures their obedience and homage. Both the sanctuary and the throne are combined

(1) in the human heart;

(2) the Christian Church;

(3) the material universe.

I. The Temple. "Judah was His sanctuary." The name is singularly appropriate. "The praise of Jehovah." In the sanctuary—

1. God dwells. His presence makes the temple what it is. "Nature" would be no "temple" if God were absent from it. Christ in the midst makes the Christian Church a temple; and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost the human heart.

2. God manifests Himself. In nature (Rom ). In the Church by the means of grace. In the soul (Joh 14:23).

3. God communicates His will. In nature (Rom ). In the Church, which is the depository of His written word and the organ for its dissemination. In the heart (Heb 8:10-11).

4. God must be adored. In nature. "All Thy works praise Thee." In the Church (1Co ). "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

II. The Kingdom. "Israel His dominion." The term again is appropriate. God is not the despotic master of a number of slaves, but King of kings and Lord of lords. His people are "princes with God," "a royal priesthood." It is the acknowledgment of His rule that ennobles nature, the Church, and the individual soul.

1. God reigns in His dominion. His presence pervades infinite space, and nature's orderly movements betoken the indwelling of nature's King. The Church in its spiritual powers, extension, working out of the divine plans, witnesses to the all-pervading presence of her Lord. The soul, in the provision that is made for its wants, and its power to withstand its foes, bears testimony to the presence of its Master.

2. God reigns over His dominion. The forces of nature emanated from Him, and He guides them to the fulfilment of their various destinies. The Church is under His command. It is "Go ye into all the world," "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." The soul is His, and is subject to His authority.

3. God reigns for the good of His subjects. In nature everything serves benevolent ends. Philosophy and legislation have not improved on the laws Christ gave to His Church. Only by keeping God's laws can the benefit of the soul be secured.

4. God reigns that His dominion may be universally acknowledged. It is so acknowledged in nature. It will be in the moral world by His Church. Christ "shall reign," &c. God yearns for the homage of each individual heart, and says, "Be ye reconciled to God."

THE REMOVAL OF OBSTACLES

(Psa )

"The sea (the Red Sea) saw the mighty movement—the marshalled hosts—the moving masses—the cattle—the pursuing enemies—the commotion—the agitation on its usually quiet shores. We are to conceive of the usual calmness of the desert—the waste and lonely solitudes of the Red Sea; and then all this suddenly broken in upon by vast hosts of men, women, children, and cattle, fleeing in consternation, followed by the embattled strength of Egypt,—all rolling on tumultuously to the shore. No wonder the sea is represented as astonished at this unusual spectacle, and so fleeing in dismay."—Barnes.

I. Antagonisms are quelled. "The sea saw it and fled." Wherever the Church has advanced—

1. Sin and Satan have receded. Where it has not been so the Church is to blame. The promise depends on the proper spirit and the use of proper means. It is only when she loses her spirituality, or fights with carnal weapons, or depends upon the arm of flesh, that she has failed. When clad in her armour, she encountered the vices and follies of Roman civilisation, she was "fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."

2. Idolatry has receded. Christianity simply annihilated the classical, Druidical, Saxon, Tartar, and Scandinavian mythologies, the bloody rites of the South Seas, and is now doing the same for the debasing superstitions of Africa and the foul abominations of Hindustan. If not Christianity, what has? Not civilisation: it boasts that religion is out of its sphere. Not philosophy: in its palmiest days it gave itself to its exposition and was glad of its alliance. Not legislation: it has been the aim of human governments to protect it on utilitarian and other grounds. Clearly no other theory will account for it.

3. Infidelity has receded. For all the ancient philosophies she proved an overmatch. From her infancy she has given birth to giant intellects, who have saved the world from intellectual anarchy. She has vanquished the infidelity of the Renaissance, the French Revolution, the elder Deism, and Tom Paine. Socialism and rationalism have been weakened, and scientific materialism is met by an array of learning and acuteness without a parallel, and it will pass away.

II. Boundaries axe removed. "Jordan was driven back."

1. Christianity levels all class distinctions. To all castes, Jewish, Roman, Indian, &c., it is a formidable foe. "In Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free," &c., It reduces all mankind to one common level of crying need, for which but one provision has been made.

2. Christianity obliterates all physical barriers. It goes into all the world and preaches the Gospel to every creature. It was not made for home consumption, but is the property of all nations

3. Christianity fills up all intellectual chasms. No greater remove could possibly be than that between the old philosopher and the common people. Christianity appeals to both. Its truths are the food of the scholar and the refreshment of the slave.

III. Difficulties are overcome. "The mountains skipped," &c.

1. All difficulties of nature. Wherever Christianity has appeared "the valleys have been exalted," &c. Crooked ways have been made straight. No mountain has been too high, no sea too broad, no continent too wide, for the pioneers and missionaries of the faith.

2. All difficulties of human prejudice. Armies have been levied to extirpate it. Fires have been kindled to burn it. Learning has been accumulated to refute it, but in vain.

IN CONCLUSION.—This history is prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy in some instances. It holds good through the ages. Let the Church in the strength of it redouble her efforts, brighten her hope, perfect her faith, and go on conquering and to conquer.

WHY OBSTACLES ARE REMOVED

(Psa )

I. Because of the omnipotent presence of the Lord. "Nothing is too hard for the Lord" in the physical, intellectual, or moral world. He is the Author of nature, and can either suspend her laws or give His people strength to overcome them. He is the Lord of mind. He can bring to naught the understanding of the proud, or give His servants wisdom to expose their sophistries. He is the Lord of soul. He can subdue its sinfulness, or enable His ministers to bring that moral influence and suasion to bear upon it which shall turn it from darkness to light, &c. He has done, does, and will do so (Isaiah 40; Isa ).

II. Because of the covenant presence of the Lord. "The God of Jacob." He has pledged His gracious presence with His people to lead them on to victory (Isa ; Romans 8). It was by virtue of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and renewed to them, that Israel overcame their obstacles and inherited the promised land. And by virtue of a new and better covenant, God is on the side of His Church and against her numerous foes, and prepares her rest in heaven when her work is done.

III. Because of the merciful presence of the Lord. God rules in mercy as well as in power. It was good for Israel, good for the world then and through all time, that the sea should flee and Jordan should be driven back. The Canaanites were a curse to God's earth. It was in mercy that they were cut off. God established His people in their place, that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. This end has been answered, for of them, "as concerning the flesh, Christ came." The same applies to the Church.

IV. Because of the righteous presence of the Lord. "Tremble, thou earth," &c. Since God rules in righteousness He holds the power of retribution. The measure of the iniquities of the enemies of His people became full before the judgment fell. Righteousness still characterises God's rule. And because of that nations fall and are swept away when they disrespect His covenant and disobey His law.

TO CONCLUDE.—The Lord Omnipotent, covenant, merciful, and just, is with His Church. Let the Church be encouraged, humbled, energised, brave.

DIVINE PROVISIONS

(Psa )

Psa is the point of connection between Psa 114:3-6 and Psa 114:8. God's presence enabled His people to overcome their difficulties, and guaranteed a permanent provision for their need. God employs the Church to accomplish His magnificent designs, and His presence in its midst assures it constant blessing. Divine provisions are—

I. The result of the divine presence. God in His works is the source of their continual stability and strength. The fountain of their life and fruitfulness is there, and by His supports they flourish. God in His word is the source of its continual inspiration and suggestiveness, and because He is there, there is ever more "light to break forth from" it. God in His Church is the guarantee that the means of grace shall be efficient, and in consequence of this she grows in strength as she grows in grace. So in the soul.

II. Contemplate real need. God does not promise the luxuries or superfluities, but the necessaries of life; not confections or things merely grateful to the palate, but things necessary for refreshment, strength, and life. God does not undertake to pamper His people with worldly grandeur and mere material success; but He does promise that all things necessary for life and godliness shall be secured. Men can dispense with wine, but they cannot dispense with water. And so the Church can dispense with State alliances and popular applause, but cannot dispense with the water of life.

III. Come in unexpected forms. Even the faith of Moses would hardly have looked to the hard granite of Horeb, or the basalt of the desert, for refreshing streams. Yet at the command of God the rock was turned into standing water. And so invariably with the operations of providence and grace. Israel was led out of Egypt and to the promised land under the guidance of a shepherd. By a shepherd she was consolidated into a permanent kingdom. The prophets and apostles, as a rule, were drawn from the lowest stratum, and the foolishness of preaching has silenced the rhetoric of the schools. The good things of the world's redemption came out of Nazareth, and the power that has moved the world emanated from a malefactor's cross. Gain has come out of loss, life out of death, prosperity out of suffering "at the presence of the Lord."

IV. Flow with abounding fulness—"a fountain of waters." Wealth and prodigality characterise the divine gifts. Men minimise and contract them, but not God. The air, light, showers, sun, the magnificence of the heavens, the beauty of the landscape, and the grandeur of the mountains and the sea, all witness to the bounty which is at the disposal of needy man. But "these things are an allegory" of "the riches of His grace." "Ask whatsoever ye will;" "My God shall supply all your need;" &c. "God is able to do exceeding abundantly," &c. God "multiplies to pardon," gives "plenteous redemption," and finally vouchsafes "an abundant entrance into His everlasting kingdom."

V. Are constantly permanent.

"Fountain." "Standing water." As God changes not, His bountiful provisions do not change. Man's need is abiding, so is God's gift. Man always needs water—at all times His water is sure. The Church needs a perpetual application of the benefits of Christ's death. His "eternal redemption" supplies the eternal need. The Spirit abides ever in the soul to confirm its faith, soothe its sorrow, and brighten its hope.

FINALLY.—It is to this and other passages (Exo ; Num 28:11) that the Apostle (1Co 10:4) draws his spiritual inferences respecting the support and refreshment Christ gives to His people. In the wilderness Israel (i.) Were supplied without money and without price. So Christ offers the water of life freely. (ii.) Were indebted to the cleaving of the rock at the word of Moses. So Christ, the Rock of ages, was cleft for us, and from His riven side flowed those streams which are for the cleansing and refreshment of the world. (iii.) Now, as then, the blessings are permanent, to stimulate our courage and confirm our faith.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 114:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-114.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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