Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. This sublime SONG OF THE EXODUS is
one and indivisible. True poetry has here reached its climax: no human mind has
ever been able to equal, much less to excel, the grandeur of this Psalm. God is
spoken of as leading forth his people from Egypt to Canaan, and causing the
whole earth to be moved at his coming. Things inanimate are represented as
imitating the actions of living creatures when the Lord passes by. They are
apostrophised and questioned with marvellous force of language, till one seems
to look upon the actual scene. The God of Jacob is exalted as having command
over river, sea, and mountain, and causing all nature to pay homage and tribute
before his glorious majesty.
Verse 1. When Israel went out of Egypt. The song begins with
a burst, as if the poetic fury could not be restrained, but overleaped all
bounds. The soul elevated and filled with a sense of divine glory cannot wait to
fashion a preface, but springs at once into the middle of its theme. Israel
emphatically came out of Egypt, out of the population among whom they had been
scattered, from under the yoke of bondage, and from under the personal grasp of
the king who had made the people into national slaves. Israel came out with a
high hand and a stretched out arm, defying all the power of the empire, and
making the whole of Egypt to travail with sore anguish, as the chosen nation was
as it were born out of its midst. The house of Jacob from a people of strange language. They
had gone down into Egypt as a single family--"the house of Jacob"; and,
though they had multiplied greatly, they were still so united, and were so fully
regarded by God as a single unit, that they are rightly spoken of as the house
of Jacob. They were as one man in their willingness to leave Goshen; numerous as
they were, not a single individual stayed behind. Unanimity is a pleasing token
of the divine presence, and one of its sweetest fruits. One of their
inconveniences in Egypt was the difference of languages, which was very great.
The Israelites appear to have regarded the Egyptians as stammerers and babblers,
since they could not understand them, and they very naturally considered the
Egyptians to be barbarians, as they would no doubt often beat them because they
did not comprehend their orders. The language of foreign taskmasters is never
musical in an exile's ear. How sweet it is to a Christian who has been compelled
to hear the filthy conversation of the wicked, when at last he is brought out
from their midst to dwell among his own people!
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
The pronoun "his" comes in where we should have looked for the name of
God; but the poet is so full of thought concerning the Lord that he forgets to
mention his name, like the spouse in the Song, who begins, "Let him kiss
me, "or Magdalene when she cried, "Tell me where thou hast laid him."
From the mention of Judah and Israel certain critics have inferred that this
Psalm must have been written after the division of the two kingdoms; but this is
only another instance of the extremely slender basis upon which an hypothesis is
often built up. Before the formation of the two kingdoms David had said, "Go
number Israel and Judah, "and this was common parlance, for Uriah the Hittite
said, "The ark, and Israel and Judah abide in tents"; so that nothing can be
inferred from the use of the two names. No division into two kingdoms can have
been intended here, for the poet is speaking of the coming out of Egypt when the
people were so united that he has just before called them "the house of
Jacob." It would be quite as fair to prove from the first verse that the
Psalm was written when the people were in union as to prove from the second that
its authorship dates from their separation. Judah was the tribe which led the
way in the wilderness march, and it was foreseen in prophecy to be the royal
tribe, hence its poetical mention in this place. The meaning of the passage is
that the whole people at the coming out of Egypt were separated unto the Lord to
be a peculiar people, a nation of priests whose motto should be, "Holiness unto
the Lord." Judah was the Lord's "holy thing, "set apart for his special use. The
nation was peculiarly Jehovah's dominion, for it was governed by a theocracy in
which God alone was King. It was his domain in a sense in which the rest of the
world was outside his kingdom. These were the young days of Israel, the time of
her espousals, when she went after the Lord into the wilderness, her God leading
the way with signs and miracles. The whole people were the shrine of Deity, and
their camp was one great temple. What a change there must have been for the
godly amongst them from the idolatries and blasphemies of the Egyptians to the
holy worship and righteous rule of the great King in Jeshurun. They lived in a
world of wonders, where God was seen in the wondrous bread they ate and in the
water they drank, as well as in the solemn worship of his holy place. When the
Lord is manifestly present in a church, and his gracious rule obediently owned,
what a golden age has come, and what honourable privileges his people enjoy! May
it be so among us.
Verse 4. The mountains skipped like rams, and
the little hills like lambs. At the coming of the Lord to Mount
Sinai, the hills moved; either leaping for joy in the presence of their Creator
like young lambs; or, if you will, springing from their places in affright at
the terrible majesty of Jehovah, and flying like a flock of sheep when alarmed.
Men fear the mountains, but the mountains tremble before the Lord. Sheep and
lambs move lightly in the meadows; but the hills, which we are wont to call
eternal, were as readily made to move as the most active creatures. Rams in
their strength, and lambs in their play, are not more stirred than were the
solid hills when Jehovah marched by. Nothing is immovable but God himself: the
mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but the covenant of his grace
abideth fast for ever and ever. Even thus do mountains of sin and hills of
trouble move when the Lord comes forth to lead his people to their eternal
Canaan. Let us never fear, but rather let our faith say unto this mountain, "Be
thou removed hence and cast into the sea, "and it shall be done.
Verse 5. What ailed thee, O thou sea? Wert
thou terribly afraid? Did thy strength fail thee? Did thy very heart dry up? What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? Thou wert
neighbour to the power of Pharaoh, but thou didst never fear his hosts; stormy
wind could never prevail against thee so as to divide thee in twain; but when
the way of the Lord was in thy great waters thou was seized with affright, and
thou becamest a fugitive from before him. Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? What ailed thee, O
quick descending river? Thy fountains had not dried up, neither had a chasm
opened to engulf thee! The near approach of Israel and her God sufficed to make
thee retrace thy steps. What aileth all our enemies that they fly when the Lord
is on our side? What aileth hell itself that it is utterly routed when Jesus
lifts up a standard against it? "Fear took hold upon them there, "for fear of
HIM the stoutest hearted did quake, and became as dead men.
Verse 6. Ye mountains, that ye skipped like
rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? What ailed ye, that ye were
thus moved? There is but one reply: the majesty of God made you to leap. A
gracious mind will chide human nature for its strange insensibility, when the
sea and the river, the mountains and the hills, are all sensitive to the
presence of God. Man is endowed with reason and intelligence, and yet he sees
unmoved that which the material creation beholds with fear. God has come nearer
to us than ever he did to Sinai, or to Jordan, for he has assumed our nature,
and yet the mass of mankind are neither driven back from their sins, nor moved
in the paths of obedience.
Verse 7. Tremble, thou earth, at the presence
of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. Or "from before the
Lord, the Adonai, the Master and King." Very fitly does the Psalm call upon all
nature again to feel a holy awe because its Ruler is still in its midst.
"Quake when Jehovah walks abroad,
Quake earth, at sight of Israel's God."
Let the believer feel that God is near, and he will serve the
Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Awe is not cast out by faith, but the
rather it becomes deeper and more profound. The Lord is most reverenced where he
is most loved.
Verse 8. Which turned the rock into a standing
water, causing a mere or lake to stand at its foot, making the wilderness a
pool: so abundant was the supply of water from the rock that it remained like
water in a reservoir. The flint into a fountain of waters, which flowed freely in
streams, following the tribes in their devious marches. Behold what God can do!
It seemed impossible that the flinty rock should become a fountain; but he
speaks, and it is done. Not only do mountains move, but rocks yield rivers when
the God of Israel wills that it should be so.
"From stone and solid rock he brings
The spreading lake, the gushing springs."
"O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name
together, " for he it is and he alone who doeth such wonders as these. He
supplies our temporal needs from sources of the most unlikely kind, and never
suffers the stream of his liberality to fail. As for our spiritual necessities
they are all met by the water and the blood which gushed of old from the riven
rock, Christ Jesus: therefore let us extol the Lord our God. Our deliverance from under the yoke of sin is strikingly
typified in the going up of Israel from Egypt, and so also was the victory of
our Lord over the powers of death and hell. The Exodus should therefore be
earnestly remembered by Christian hearts. Did not Moses on the mount of
transfiguration speak to our Lord of "the exodus" which he should shortly
accomplish at Jerusalem; and is it not written of the hosts above that they sing
the song of Moses the servant of God, and of the Lamb? Do we not ourselves
expect another coming of the Lord, when before his face heaven and earth shall
flee away and there shall be no more sea? We join then with the singers around
the Passover table and make their Hallel ours, for we too have been led out of
bondage and guided like a flock through a desert land, wherein the Lord supplies
our wants with heavenly manna and water from the Rock of ages. Praise ye the
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The 114th psalm appears to me to be an
admirable ode, and I began to turn it into our own language. As I was describing
the journey of Israel from Egypt, and added the Divine Presence amongst them, I
perceived a beauty in this psalm, which was entirely new to me, and which I was
going to lose; and that is, that the poet utterly conceals the presence of God
in the beginning of it, and rather lets a possessive pronoun go without a
substantive, than he will so much as mention anything of divinity there. "Judah
was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion" or kingdom. The reason now seems
evident, and this conduct necessary; for, if God had appeared before, there
could be no wonder why the mountains should leap and the sea retire; therefore,
that this convulsion of nature may be brought in with due surprise, his name is
not mentioned till afterwards; and then with a very agreeable turn of thought,
God is introduced at once in all his majesty. This is what I have attempted to
imitate in a translation without paraphrase, and to preserve what I could of the
spirit of the sacred author.
When Israel, freed from Pharaoh's hand,
Left the proud tyrant and his land,
The tribes with cheerful homage own
Their King, and Judah was his throne.
Across the deep their journey lay,
The deep divides to make them way;
The streams of Jordan saw, and fled
With backward current to their head.
The mountains shook like frightened sheep,
Like lambs the little hillocks leap;
Not Sinai on her base could stand,
Conscious of sovereign power at hand.
What power could make the deep divide?
Make Jordan backward roll his tide?
Why did ye leap, ye little hills?
And whence the fright that Sinai feels?
Let every mountain, and every flood,
Retire, and know the approaching God,
The King of Israel! see him here:
Tremble, thou earth, adore and fear.
He thunders--and all nature mourns;
The rock to standing pools he turns;
Flints spring with fountains at his word,
And fires and seas confess their Lord.
--Isaac Watts, in "The Spectator," 1712.
Verse 1. When Israel went out of Egypt. Out of the midst of
that nation, that is, out of the bowels of the Egyptians, who had, as it were,
devoured them; thus the Jew doctors gloss upon this text. --John Trapp.
Verse 1. Israel went out of Egypt. This was an emblem of the
Lord's people in effectual vocation, coming out of bondage into liberty, out of
darkness into light, out of superstition, and idolatry, and profaneness, to the
service of the true God in righteousness and true holiness; and from a people of strange language to those that speak the
language of Canaan, a pure language, in which they can understand one another
when they converse together, either about experience or doctrine; and the manner
of their coming out is much the same, by strength of hand, by the power of
divine grace, yet willingly and cheerfully, with great riches, the riches of
grace, and a title to the riches of glory, and with much spiritual strength; for
though weak in themselves, yet they are strong in Christ. --John Gill.
Verse 1. The house of Jacob. The Israelites though they were
a great number when they went forth from Egypt, nevertheless formed one house or
family; thus the church at the present time dispersed throughout the whole world
is called one house: 1Ti 3:15 Heb 3:6; 1Pe 2:5: and that because of one faith,
one God, one Father, one baptism, Eph 4:5. --Marloratus.
Verse 1. A people of strange language. When we find in verse
1, as in Psalm 81:5, Egypt spoken of as a land where the people were of a
"strange tongue, "it seems likely that the reference is to their being a
people who could not speak of God, as Israel could; even as Zep 3:9 tells
of the "pure lip, "viz., the lip that calls on the name of the Lord.
--Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. A people of strange tongue. Mant translates this
"tyrant land, "and has the following note: The Hebrew word here
rendered "tyrant, "has been supposed to signify "barbarous"; that is, "using a
barbarous or foreign language or pronunciation." But, says Parkhurst, the word
seems rather to refer to the "violence" of the Egyptians towards the Israelites,
or "the barbarity of their behaviour, "which was more to the Psalmist's purpose
than "the barbarity of their language"; even supposing the reality of the latter
in the time of Moses. The epithet "barbarous" would leave the same ambiguity as
Parkhurst supposes to belong to the text. Bishop Horsley renders "a tyrannical
Verse 1. A people of strange language. The strange language
is evidently an annoyance. Israel could not feel at home in Egypt. --Justus
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
These people were God's sanctification and dominion, that is, witnesses
of his holy majesty in adopting them, and of his mighty power in delivering
them: or, his sanctification, as having his holy priests to govern them
in the points of piety; and dominion, as having godly magistrates
ordained from above to rule them in matters of policy: or, his sanctuary,
both actually, because sanctifying him; and passively, because sanctified of
him...This one verse expounds and exemplifies two prime petitions of the Lord's
Prayer. "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come": for Judah was God's
sanctuary, because hallowing his name;and Israel his dominion, as
desiring his kingdom to come. Let every man examine himself by this
pattern, whether he be truly the servant of Jesus his Saviour, or the vassal of
Satan the destroyer. If any man submit himself willingly to the domineering of
the devil, and suffer sin to reign in his mortal members, obeying the lusts
thereof, and working all uncleanness even with greediness; assuredly that man is
yet a chapel of Satan, and a slave to sin. On the contrary, whosoever
unfeignedly desires that God's kingdom may come, being ever ready to be ruled
according to his holy word, acknowledging it a lantern to his feet, and a guide
to his paths; admitting obediently his laws, and submitting himself alway to the
same; what is he, but a citizen of heaven, a subject of God, a saint, a
sanctuary? --John Boys.
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, etc. Reader, do not fail
to remark, when Israel was brought out of Egypt the Lord set up his tabernacle
among them, and manifested his presence to them. And what is it now, when the
Lord Jesus brings out his people from the Egypt of the world? Doth he not fulfil
that sweet promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"?
Is it not the privilege of his people, to live to him, to live
with him, and to live upon him? Doth he not in every act declare,
"I will say, it is my people; and they shall say, the Lord is my God"? Mt 28:20;
Zec 13:9. --Robert Hawker.
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary. Meaning not the tribe of
Judah only, though they in many things had the preeminence; the kingdom belonged
to it, the chief ruler being out of it, especially the Messiah; its standard was
pitched and moved first; it offered first to the service of the Lord; and the
Jews have a tradition, mentioned by Jarchi and Kimchi, that this tribe with its
prince at the head of it, went into the Red Sea first: the others fearing, but
afterwards followed, encouraged by their example. In this place all the tribes
are meant, the whole body of the people. --John Gill.
Verse 2. One peculiarity of the second verse requires
attention. It twice uses the word "his", without naming any one. There
are two theories to account for this circumstance. One is that Psalm 114 was
always sung in immediate connection with 113, in which the name of God occurs no
less than six times, so that the continuance of the train of thought made a
fresh repetition of it here unnecessary. But this view, to be fully consistent
with itself, must assume that the two Psalms are really one, with a merely
arbitrary division, which does not, on the face of the matter, seem by any means
probable, as the scope of thought in the two is perfectly distinct. The other,
which is more satisfactory, regards the omission of the Holy Name in this part
of the Psalm as a practical artifice to heighten the effect of the answer to the
sudden apostrophe in verses five and six. There would be nothing marvellous in
the agitation of the sea, and river, and mountains in the presence of God, but
it may well appear wonderful till that potent cause is revealed, as it is most
forcibly in the dignified words of the seventh verse. --Ewald and Perowne, in
Neale and Littledale.
Verse 3. The sea saw it: to wit this glorious work of God in
bringing his people out of Egypt. --Matthew Pool.
Verse 3. The sea saw it. Saw there that "Judah" was "God's
sanctuary, ""and Israel his dominion, "and therefore "fled"; for nothing
could be more awful. It was this that drove Jordan back, and was an
invincible dam to his streams; God was at the head of that people, and therefore
they must give way to them, must make room for them, they must retire, contrary
to their nature, when God speaks the word. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 3. The sea saw it, and fled.
The waves on either side
Unloose their close embraces, and divide,
And backwards press, as in some solemn show
The crowding people do,
(Though just before no space was seen,)
To let the admired triumph pass between.
The wondering army saw on either hand,
The no less wondering waves like rocks of crystal stand.
They marched betwixt, and boldly trod
The secret paths of God. Abraham Cowley, 1618-1667.
Verse 3. Jordan was driven back. And now the glorious day
was come when, by a stupendous miracle, Jehovah had determined to show how able
he was to remove every obstacle in the way of his people, and to subdue every
enemy before their face. By his appointment, the host, amounting probably to two
millions and a half of persons (about the same number as had crossed the Red Sea
on foot), had removed to the banks of the river three days before, and now in
marching array awaited the signal to cross the stream. At any time the passage
of the river by such a multitude, with their women and children, their flocks
and herds, and all their baggage, would have presented formidable difficulties;
but now the channel was filled with a deep and impetuous torrent, which
overflowed its banks and spread widely on each side, probably extending nearly a
mile in width; while in the very sight of the scene were the Canaanitish hosts,
who might be expected to pour out from their gates, and exterminate the invading
multitude before they could reach the shore. Yet these difficulties were nothing
to Almighty power, and only served to heighten the effect of the stupendous
miracle about to be wrought.
By the command of Jehovah, the priests, bearing the ark of the
covenant, the sacred symbol of the Divine presence, marched more than half a
mile in front of the people, who were forbidden to come any nearer to it. Thus
it was manifest that Jehovah needed not protection from Israel, but was their
guard and guide, since the unarmed priests feared not to separate themselves
from the host, and to venture with the ark into the river in the face of their
enemies. And thus the army, standing aloof, had a better opportunity of seeing
the wondrous results, and of admiring the mighty power of God exerted on their
behalf; for no sooner had the feet of the priests touched the brim of the
overflowing river, than the swelling waters receded from them; and not only the
broad lower valley, but even the deep bed of the stream was presently emptied of
water, and its pebbly bottom became dry. The waters which had been in the
channel speedily ran off, and were lost in the Dead Sea; whilst those which
would naturally have replaced them from above, were miraculously suspended, and
accumulated in a glassy heap far above the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan.
These places are supposed to have been at least forty miles above the Dead Sea,
and may possibly have been much more; so that nearly the whole channel of the
Lower Jordan, from a little below the Lake of Tiberias to the Dead Sea, was
dry...What a glorious termination of the long pilgrimage of Israel was this! and
how worthy of the power, wisdom, and goodness of their Divine Protector! "The
passage of this deep and rapid river, " remarks Dr. Hales, "at the most
unfavourable season, was more manifestly miraculous, if possible, than that of
the Red Sea; because here was no natural agency whatever employed; no mighty
wind to sweep a passage, as in the former case; no reflux of the tide, on which
minute philosophers might fasten to depreciate the miracle. It seems, therefore,
to have been providentially designed to silence cavils respecting the former;
and it was done at noonday, in the face of the sun, and in the presence, we may
be sure, of the neighbouring inhabitants, and struck terror into the kings of
the Canaanites and Amorites westward of the river." --Philip Henry Gosse, in
"Sacred Streams, "1877.
Verse 3. Jordan was driven back. The waters know their
Maker: that Jordan which flowed with full streams when Christ went into it to be
baptized, now gives way when the same God must pass through it in state: then
there was use of his water, now of his sand. I hear no more news of any rod to
strike the waters; the presence of the ark of the Lord God, Lord of all the
world, is sign enough to these waves, which now, as if a sinew were broken, run
back to their issues, and dare not so much as wet the feet of the priests that
bare it. How subservient are all the creatures to the God that made them! How
glorious a God do we serve; whom all the powers of the heavens and elements are
willingly subject unto, and gladly take that nature which he pleaseth to give
them. --Abraham Wright.
Verse 3. Jordan was driven back. It was probably at the
point near the present southern fords, crossed at the time of the Christian era
by a bridge. The river was at its usual state of flood at the spring of the
year, so as to fill the whole of the bed, up to the margin of the jungle with
which the river banks are lined. On the broken edge of the swollen stream, the
band of priests stood with the ark on their shoulders. At the distance of nearly
a mile in the rear was the mass of the army. Suddenly the full bed of the Jordan
was dried before them. High up the river, "far, far away, ""in Adam, the city
which is beside Zaretan, ""as far as the parts of Kirjathjearim" (Jos 3:16),
that is, at a distance of thirty miles from the place of the Israelite
encampment, the waters there stood which "descended" "from the heights above,
"--stood and rose up, as if gathered into a water skin; as if in a barrier or
heap, as if congealed; and those that "descended" towards the sea of "the
desert, "the Salt Sea, "failed and were cut off." Thus the scene presented is of
the "descending stream" (the words employed seem to have a special reference to
that peculiar and most significant name of the "Jordan"), not parted asunder, as
we generally fancy, but, as the Psalm expresses it, "turned backwards"; the
whole bed of the river left dry from north to south, through its long windings;
the huge stones lying bare here and there, imbedded in the soft bottom; or the
shingly pebbles drifted along the course of the channel. --Arthur Penrhyn
Stanly, in "The History of the Jewish Church, "1870.
Verse 4. The mountains skipped like rams, etc. The figure
drawn from the lambs and rams would appear to be inferior to the magnitude of
the subject. But it was the prophet's intention to express in the homeliest way
the incredible manner in which God, on these occasions, displayed his power. The
stability of the earth being, as it were, founded on the mountains, what
connection can they have with rams and lambs, that they should be agitated,
skipping hither and thither? In speaking in this homely style, he does not mean
to detract from the greatness of the miracle, but more forcibly to engrave these
extraordinary tokens of God's power on the illiterate. --John Calvin.
Verse 4. Skipped. A poetic description of the concussion
caused by the thunder and lightning that accompanied the divine presence.
--James G. Murphy.
Verse 4. At the giving of the law at Sinai, Horeb and the
mountains around, both great and small, shook with a sudden and mighty
earthquake, like rams leaping in a grassy plain, with the young sheep frisking
round them. --Plain Commentary.
Verses 4-6. When Christ descends upon the soul in the work of
conversion, what strength doth he put forth! The strongholds of sin are battered
down, every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ is
brought into captivity to the obedience of his sceptre, 2Co 10:4-5. Devils are
cast out of the possession which they have kept for many years without the least
disturbance. Strong lusts are mortified and the very constitution of the soul is
changed. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan,
that thou wast driven back? ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams?,
etc. The prophet speaks those words of the powerful entrance of the children of
Israel into Canaan. The like is done by Christ in the conversion of a sinner.
Jordan is driven back, the whole course of the soul is altered, the mountains
skip like rams. There are many mountains in the soul of a sinner, as pride,
unbelief, self conceitedness, atheism, profaneness, etc. These mountains are
plucked up by the roots in a moment when Christ begins the work of conversion.
Fly where thou wilt, O Sea!
And Jordan's current cease!
Jordan, there is no need of thee,
For at God's word, whenever he please,
The rocks shall weep new waters forth instead of these.
Verses 5-6. A singular animation and an almost dramatic force
are given to the poem by the beautiful apostrophe in verses 5, 6, and the effect
of this is heightened in a remarkable degree by the use of the present tenses.
The awe and the trembling of nature are a spectacle on which the poet is
looking. The parted sea through which Israel walks as on dry land, the rushing
Jordan arrested in its course, the granite cliffs of Sinai shaken to their
base--he sees it all, and asks in wonder what it means? --J. J. Stewart
Verses 5-6. This questioning teaches us that we should
ourselves consider and inquire concerning the reason of those things, which we
see to have been done in a wondrous way, out of the course of nature. There are
signs in the sun, moon, stars, heaven, etc., concerning which Christ has spoken.
Let us inquire the reason why they are, that we be not stupid and inaccurate
spectators. The things which are done miraculously do speak: and they can give
answer why they are done. Nay, rather, portents, signs, earthquakes,
extraordinary appearances are loud speaking, and they declare from themselves
what they are: namely, that they are prophetic of the anger and future vengeance
of God. Such inquiry as this is not prying curiosity, but is pious and useful,
working to this end, that we become observant of the judgments of God, with
which he visits this world, and yield ourselves to his grace, and so we escape
the coming vengeance. --Wolfgang Musculus.
What ails thee, sea, to part,
Thee Jordan, back to start?
Ye mountains, like the rams to leap,
Ye little hills, like sheep? --John Keble.
Verse 7. Tremble, thou earth. Hebrew, Be in pain, as
a travailing woman: for if the giving of the law had such dreadful effects, what
should the breaking thereof have? --John Trapp.
"At the presence of the Lord be in pangs, O earth." "Lord, "Adon, the Sovereign Ruler. "Pangs,
"Chuli: Mic 4:10. The convulsions of nature, which accompanied the
Exodus, were as the birth throes of the Israelite people. "A nation was born in
a day." But the deliverance out of Babylon was the prelude to a far more
wondrous truth; that of him, in whom human nature was to be regenerated.
Verses 7-8. Tremble, etc. This is an answer to the preceding
question: as if he had said, It is no wonder that Sinai, and Horeb, and a few
adjoining hills should thus tremble at the majestic presence of God; for the
whole earth must do so, whenever he pleases. --Thomas Fenton.
Verse 8. Which turned the rock into a standing water.
Into a pool. The divine poet represents the very substance of the rock as
being converted into water, not literally, but poetically; thus ornamenting his
sketch of the wondrous power displayed on this occasion. --William
Verse 8. The remarkable rock in Sinai which tradition
regards as the one which Moses smote, is at least well chosen in regard to its
situation, whatever opinion we may form of the truth of that tradition, which it
seems to be the disposition of late travellers to regard with more respect than
was formerly entertained. It is an isolated mass of granite, nearly twenty feet
square and high, with its base concealed in the earth--we are left to conjecture
to what depth. In the face of the rock are a number of horizontal fissures, at
unequal distances from each other; some near the top, and others at a little
distance from the surface of the ground. An American traveller (Dr. Olin) says:
"The colour and whole appearance of the rock are such that, if seen elsewhere,
and disconnected from all traditions, no one would hesitate to believe that they
had been produced by water flowing from these fissures. I think it would be
extremely difficult to form these fissures or produce these appearances by art.
It is not less difficult to believe that a natural fountain should flow at the
height of a dozen feet out of the face of an isolated rock. Believing, as I do,
that the water was brought out of a rock belonging to this mountain, I can see
nothing incredible in the opinion that this is the identical rock, and that
these fissures, and the other appearances, should be regarded as evidences of
the fact." --John Kitto.
Verse 8. Shall the hard rock be turned into a standing
water, and the flint stone into a springing well? and shall not our hard and
flinty hearts, in consideration of our own miseries, and God's unspeakable
mercies in delivering us from evil, (if not gush forth into fountains of tears)
express so much as a little standing water in our eyes? It is our hard heart
indeed, quod nec compunctione scinditur, nec pietate mollitur, nec
movetur precibus, minis non cedit, flagellis duratur, etc. (Bernard).
O Lord, touch thou the mountains and they shall smoke, touch our lips with a
coal from thine altar, and our mouth shall show forth thy praise. Smite, Lord,
our flinty hearts as hard as the nether millstone, with the hammer of thy word,
and mollify them also with the drops of thy mercies and dew of thy Spirit; make
them humble, fleshy, flexible, circumcised, soft, obedient, new, clean, broken,
and then "a broken and a contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise." Ps
51:17. "O Lord my God, give me grace from the very bottom of my heart to desire
thee; in desiring, to seek thee; in seeking, to find; in finding, to love thee;
in loving, utterly to loathe my former wickedness; "that living in thy fear, and
dying in thy favour, when I have passed through this Egypt and wilderness of
this world, I may possess the heavenly Canaan and happy land of promise,
prepared for all such as love thy coming, even for every Christian one, which is
thy dominion, and sanctuary. (Augustine). --John Boys.
Verse 8. The same almighty power that turned waters into a
rock to be a wall to Israel (Ex 14:22), turned the rock into waters to be a well
to Israel. As they were protected, so they were provided for, by miracles,
standing miracles; for such was the standing water, that fountain of waters,
into which the rock, the flinty rock, was turned, "and that rock was Christ,
"1Co 10:4. For he is a fountain of living waters to his Israel, from whom they
receive grace for grace. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 8. The flint into a fountain of waters. The causing of
water to gush forth out of the flinty rock is a practical proof of unlimited
omnipotence and of the grace which converts death into life. Let the earth then
tremble before the Lord, the God of Jacob. It has already trembled before him,
and before him let it tremble. For that which he has been he still ever is; and
as he came once he will come again. --Franz Delitzsch.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verses 1-2. The time of first delivery from sin a season
notable for the peculiar presence of God.
Verses 1-2. The Lord was to his people--
1. A deliverer.
2. A priest--"his sanctuary."
3. A king--"his dominion."
Verses 1, 7. "The house of Jacob" and "the God of Jacob,"
relation between the two.
Verse 2. The church the temple of sanctity and the domain of
Verse 3. The sea saw it, and fled; or rather, "The sea saw
and fled" --it saw God and all his people following his lead, and it was struck
with awe and fled away. A bold figure! The Red Sea mirrored the hosts which had
come down to its shore, and reflected the cloud which towered high over all, as
the symbol of the presence of the Lord: never had such a scene been imaged upon
the surface of the Red Sea, or any other sea, before. It could not endure the
unusual and astounding sight, and fleeing to the right and to the left, opened a
passage for the elect people. A like miracle happened at the end of the great
march of Israel, for "Jordan, was driven back." This was a swiftly
flowing river, pouring itself down a steep decline, and it was not merely
divided, but its current was driven back so that the rapid torrent, contrary to
nature, flowed uphill. This was God's work: the poet does not sing of the
suspension of natural laws, or of a singular phenomenon not readily to be
explained; but to him the presence of God with his people is everything, and in
his lofty song he tells how the river was driven back because the Lord was
there. In this case poetry is nothing but the literal fact, and the fiction lies
on the side of the atheistic critics who will suggest any explanation of the
miracle rather than admit that the Lord made bare his holy arm in the eyes of
all his people. The division of the sea and the drying up of the river are
placed together though forty years intervened, because they were the opening and
closing scenes of one great event. We may thus unite by faith our new birth and
our departure out of the world into the promised inheritance, for the God who
led us out of the Egypt of our bondage under sin will also conduct us through
the Jordan of death out of our wilderness wanderings in the desert of this tried
and changeful life. It is all one and the same deliverance, and the beginning
ensures the end.
Verse 3. The impenitence of sinners rebuked by the inanimate
Verse 3. Jordan was driven back, or death overcome.
Verse 4. The movableness of things which appear to be fixed
and settled. God's power of creating a stir in lethargic minds, among ancient
systems, and prejudiced persons of the highest rank.
Verses 7-8. Holy awe.
1. Should be caused by the fact of the divine presence.
2. Should be increased by his covenant character--"the God of
3. Should culminate when we see displays of his grace towards
his people--"which turned, "etc.
4. Should become universal.
Verse 8. Wonders akin to the miracle at the rock.
1. Christ's death the source of life.
2. Adversity a means of prosperity.
3. Hard hearts made penitent.
4. Barrenness of soul turned into abundance.
Verse 8. Divine supplies.
1. Sure--for he will fetch them even from a rock.
2. Plentiful--"a mere or standing water."
3. Continual "fountain of waters."
4. Instructive. Should create in us holy awe at the power,
etc., of the Lord.