Look What The Lord Has Done!
When Israel came out of Egypt, The house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary, And Israel His dominion. The [Red] Sea looked and fled; The Jordan turned back. The mountains leaped like rams, The [little] hills, like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? O mountains, that you leap like rams, O [little] hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob (Israel), Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of water.
When a contemporary Jewish family sit down together to take the Passover(Seder), the written liturgy they recite through the meal will include reference to four kinds of children: the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who has no capacity to inquire.
The second one-the wicked one-asks, “What mean you by this service?”
As commentary on the wicked son’s unthinking use of “you,” the family reads this response: By the word “you” it is clear he doth not include himself, and thus hath withdrawn himself from the community; it is therefore proper to retort upon him by saying: “This is done because of what the Eternal did for me when I went forth from Egypt; for me and not for him, for had he been there, he would not have been thought worthy to be redeemed.”
Psalm 114, second of the Hallel psalms, would more than likely been sung by Jesus and the disciples at the end of the Passover meal just before Gethsemane. In that moment, Jesus used the occasion to open up the greater truth of a redemption more than that of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. This redemption would be purchased through the breaking of His body and the shedding of HIs blood which would free believers from the slavery of sin and bring them into the promised land of new birth and eternal life.
Psalm 114 can be sung with a multidimensional meaning. We may sing it as Jesus and the disciples did to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt by God. We can also sing it to remember what Christ did for us when He brought us out of bondage and into His kingdom. Finally, we can sing it to remember all the times that God has met us personally and delivered us from oppressive, hurtful, difficult situations- personal Egypts.
For those of us who may feel like we’re in our own Egypt, maybe not literally but something of the circumstances the Israelites found themselves in. There might be those near you who are acting like Pharaoh, “who did not know about Joseph.” Perhaps the circumstances or persons you were comfortable with have now become cruel and intolerable. They are speaking to you with a “foreign tongue,” words that are cold and harsh. We might feel more like a ruin than God’s dwelling place, more decimated than part of God’s dominion(verse 2).
Sometimes our life experiences are similar to those of the Israelites. We are moving from the bondage of Egypt(our old sin life) to the Promised Land( the sanctified life), but our way is often filled with what seems to be insurmountable barriers: the Red Sea(verse 3), the stretch of barren wilderness(verse 8), and the Jordan River(verse 5).
The question for us is: Will we be like the wicked son who asks, “What mean you by this?” Or will we be one of those singing this psalm like those included in Israel who “came out of Egypt?” For the Israelites, the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River were mind- boggling and earthshaking events. No less so was the death of Jesus which was accompanied by an earthquake and another one accompanied His resurrection.
As Jesus sat with the disciples the night before He faced the cross, this psalm was sung. The cross would be His “hard rock,” but He knew from the history of Israel what God does when we’re facing difficult or impossible situations. I think we can know that these verses filled the Lord with confidence and strength even as He was being betrayed. For us, they’re intended to give us peace and hope as well. We can be assured that just as He has done in the past, He will also part obstacles before us and sustain us in the “wildernesses” of life.
Dr. John Thompson