The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Fled.—The Authorised Version weakens the effect by rendering “it was driven back.” (See Joshua 3:16.) 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” (Stanley, Jewish Church, i. 229).Psalm 114:3-6. The sea saw it, and fled — Saw that God was present with and among them in an extraordinary manner, and therefore fled; for nothing could have been more awful. Jordan is driven back — At the appearance of the divine glory which conducted them. “Although forty years intervened between the two events here mentioned, yet, as the miracles were of the same nature, they are spoken of together.” The mountains skipped like rams — Horeb and Sinai, two tops of one mountain, and other neighbouring hills and mountains. The same power that fixed the fluid waters, and made them stand still, shook the stable mountains, and made them tremble; for all the powers of nature are at the command and under the control of the God of nature. Mountains and hills are before God but like rams and lambs; even the largest and the most rocky of them are as manageable by him as the sheep are by the shepherd. The trembling of the mountains before Jehovah may shame the stupidity and obduracy of sinners, who are not moved at the discoveries of his glory. What ailed thee, O sea, that thou fleddest? — What was the reason, or for what cause was it, that thou didst, with such precipitation, retire and leave the middle of thy channel dry? Why didst thou, O Jordan, run back toward thy springs? Ye mountains, that ye skipped, &c. — Whence this unusual motion? Why did you leap like affrighted rams or lambs, as if you would have run away from the place where you had so long been fixed?
And fled - As if affrighted at the approach of such an host, coming so suddenly upon its shores.
Jordan was driven back - Referring to the dividing of the waters of the Jordan when the children of Israel passed over to the promised land. Joshua 3:13-17. They also seemed astonished at the approach of the Hebrews, and retired to make a way for them to pass over.
Ps 114:1-8. The writer briefly and beautifully celebrates God's former care of His people, to whose benefit nature was miraculously made to contribute.
1-4. of strange language—(compare Ps 81:5).Saw it, to wit, this glorious work of God in bringing his people out of Egypt. Psalm 77:16, at which its waters fled and parted, and stood up as a wall to make way for Israel to pass through as on dry land, Exodus 14:21. This was typical of the nations of the Gentile world, comparable to the sea, Daniel 7:2, who saw the work of God going on among them under the ministry of the Gospel in the first times of it, whereby multitudes were turned from idols to serve the living God; this they saw and trembled at, and they and their kings fled for fear; see Isaiah 41:5, and of the stop put to the ocean of sin in a man's heart, and to the torrent of wickedness that breaks out from thence, by powerful and efficacious grace, much more abounding where sin has abounded.
Jordan was driven back; this was done not at the time of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, but just before their entrance into the land of Canaan, and in order to it; and being an event similar to the former is here mentioned, and done by the power and presence of God; for as soon as the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the Lord, the symbol of the divine Presence, were dipped in the brim of the waters, the waters below were cut off from those above, and stood up on an heap, and all the Israelites passed through on dry ground, Joshua 3:13, this was an emblem of death, through which the saints pass to glory, which is abolished by Christ, its sting and curse taken away; which when the saints come to, they find it like Jordan driven back, and have an easy and abundant passage through it; and when on the brink of it, and even in the midst of it, sing, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55.The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. The sea saw and fled;
The Jordan turned backwards.
In the parallel passages Psalm 77:16; Habakkuk 3:10, God is the object of the verb saw. But here the object is significantly left unexpressed. The whole spectacle of Israel’s triumphant Exodus is meant. The Red Sea and the Jordan are personified, and represented as hastening to withdraw the barriers they opposed to Israel’s exit from Egypt and entrance into Canaan. Awestruck Nature recognised and obeyed its Master’s Will.
3, 4. The wonders of the Exodus from Egypt and the Entry into Canaan.Verse 3. - The sea saw it, and fled. "The sea" is the Red Sea. It "looked," and saw God leading his people (Exodus 14:19-24), and then at once "fled," and left a dry channel as "a way for the ransomed to pass over." Jordan (literally, the Jordan) was driven back (comp. Joshua 3:13-17). These two marvels "marked respectively the beginning and the end of Israel's long journey" (Cheyne). They were parallel facts, and are naturally alluded to together (comp. Habakkuk 3:8). Psalm 99:2. Pasek stands between גוים and יהוה in order to keep them apart. The totality of the nations is great, but Jahve is raised above it; the heavens are glorious, but Jahve's glory is exalted above them. It is not to be explained according to Psalm 148:13; but according to Psalm 57:6, 12, רם belongs to Psalm 113:4 too as predicate. He is the incomparable One who has set up His throne in the height, but at the same time directs His gaze deep downwards (expression according to Ges. ֗142, rem. 1) in the heavens and upon earth, i.e., nothing in all the realm of the creatures that are beneath Him escapes His sight, and nothing is so low that it remains unnoticed by Him; on the contrary, it is just that which is lowly, as the following strophe presents to us in a series of portraits so to speak, that is the special object of His regard. The structure of Psalm 113:5-6 militates against the construction of "in the heavens and upon the earth" with the interrogatory "who is like unto Jahve our God?" after Deuteronomy 3:24.
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