Psalm 114


Psalms 113-118 are often referred to as the Hallel psalms, these were sung on festive occasions, such as at Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles, and the feast of Dedication. These were psalms of adoration to the Lord which commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Psalms 113-114 were sung before the meal and Psalm 115-118 were sung after the meal. This was probably the hymn which our Saviour and His disciples sang at the conclusion of the Passover supper, Matthew 26:30 / Mark 14:26.

The historical setting of this psalm was Israel’s crossing of both the Rea Sea and the Jordan River. The other miraculous event is probably the shaking of the earth at Mount Sinai when God came down on it as a cloud.

As we go through this psalm we see that the psalmist personifies the sea, the river and the mountains.


‘The miracles wrought by God, when he brought his people out of Egypt, are a just ground of fearing him.’

The NIV doesn’t offer a heading for this psalm, but the KJV does. Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us this is a psalm written to remind God’s people of the time He delivered them out of Egypt, hence He is to be feared.

‘When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.’ Psalm 114:1-8

The psalmist begins by speaking about the time when Israel was redeemed from Egypt. Israel, Jacob and Judah are names which synonymously refer to the people of God, the twelve tribes of Israel who came out of Egyptian captivity.

Jacob left the people with a foreign tongue, that is, the Egyptians, Exodus 20:2 / Psalm 81:5 / Isaiah 28:11 / Jeremiah 5:15. Judah became God’s sanctuary, that is, Judah became God’s dwelling place, Genesis 49:10 / Genesis 49:8-12. In other words, God was in their presence and Israel was the place of God’s domain.

The psalmist now personifies the sea, that is the Red Sea and the Jordan, that is, the River Jordan and the mountains, that is, Mount Sinai.

It was God who parted the Red Sea for Israel to escape from the Egyptian army, Exodus 14:21-31, and it was God who parted the River Jordan for His people to enter the Promised Land, Joshua 3:13-17.

The mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs skipped like rams, this is a poetic description of what happened at Mount Sinai, when God displayed His presence among them, Exodus 19:16-20.

The three questions the psalmist asks, are rhetorical questions, which means that the sea, the Jordan and the mountains were all powerless in the presence of God.

As a result of God’s mighty power, the psalmist calls upon the earth to tremble in the presence of God, in the presence of the God of Jacob. In other words, He is the God who has total control over all the earth.

He is the God who turned a rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water, which is a reference to the time Israel complained to Moses about having no water and so God supplied water from a rock. God did this twice during the Exodus, once at Mount Sinai Exodus 17:6, and again at Kadesh, Numbers 20:8-11.


The psalmist asks three rhetorical questions to amplify the power of God over His creation. Israel had witnessed God’s power over and over again in their history, it was His power which brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.

As Christians, it’s always useful to remind ourselves that we worship the same God and there is no other god like Him.

Here are a few Scriptures to remind ourselves that nothing and no one compares with God.

1. No other god can create anything out of nothing like our God did, Genesis 1:1-2 / Psalm 33:6-9.

2. No other god can deliver people from their bondages as our God can, Exodus 13:3 / Romans 6:18.

3. No other god can look after creation like our God does, Psalm 104:3-32 / Matthew 6:25-34.

4. No other god reveals their eternal purpose for mankind, like our God does, Ephesians 3:10-11.

5. No other god promises eternal life, like out God does, John 3:16 / 1 John 2:24-25.

Go To Psalm 115


"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."