Psalm 114:3
The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
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(3) 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?

114:1-8 An exhortation to fear God. - Let us acknowledge God's power and goodness in what he did for Israel, applying it to that much greater work of wonder, our redemption by Christ; and encourage ourselves and others to trust in God in the greatest straits. When Christ comes for the salvation of his people , he redeems them from the power of sin and Satan, separates them from an ungodly world, forms them to be his people, and becomes their King. There is no sea, no Jordan, so deep, so broad, but, when God's time is come, it shall be divided and driven back. Apply this to the planting the Christian church in the world. What ailed Satan and his idolatries, that they trembled as they did? But especially apply it to the work of grace in the heart. What turns the stream in a regenerate soul? What affects the lusts and corruptions, that they fly back; that prejudices are removed, and the whole man becomes new? It is at the presence of God's Spirit. At the presence of the Lord, not only mountains, but the earth itself may well tremble, since it has lain under a curse for man's sin. As the Israelites were protected, so they were provided for by miracles; such was that fountain of waters into which the flinty rock was turned, and that rock was Christ. The Son of God, the Rock of ages, gave himself to death, to open a fountain to wash away sins, and to supply believers with waters of life and consolation; and they need not fear that any blessing is too great to expect from his love. But let sinners fear before their just and holy Judge. Let us now prepare to meet our God, that we may have boldness before him at his coming.The sea saw it - The word it is supplied, not very properly, by our translators. It would be more expressive to say, "The sea saw:" that is, 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 on the banks 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 that the sea is represented as astonished at this unusual spectacle, and as fleeing in dismay.

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.

The sea saw it, and fled,.... When the Word of the Lord appeared at it, as the Targum in the king's Bible; the Red sea, to which the Israelites came when they went out of Egypt; this saw that Judah was the Lord's holy and peculiar people, and that Israel were the subjects of his kingdom; it saw the presence of the Lord among them; it saw him in the glory of his perfections, and felt his power; see 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.
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 114:3Egypt is called עם לעז (from לעז, cogn. לעג, לעה), because the people spoke a language unintelligible to Israel (Psalm 81:6), and as it were a stammering language. The lxx, and just so the Targum, renders ἐκ λαοῦ βαρβάρου (from the Sanscrit barbaras, just as onomatopoetic as balbus, cf. Fleischer in Levy's Chaldisches Wrterbuch, i. 420). The redeemed nation is called Judah, inasmuch as God made it His sanctuary (קדשׁ) by setting up His sanctuary (מקדּשׁ, Exodus 15:17) in the midst of it, for Jerusalem (el ḳuds) as Benjamitish Judaean, and from the time of David was accounted directly as Judaean. In so far, however, as He made this people His kingdom (ממשׁלותיו, an amplificative plural with Mem pathachatum), by placing Himself in the relation of King (Deuteronomy 33:5) to the people of possession which by a revealed law He established characteristically as His own, it is called Israel. 1 The predicate takes the form ותּהי, for peoples together with country and city are represented as feminine (cf. Jeremiah 8:5). The foundation of that new beginning in connection with the history of redemption was laid amidst majestic wonders, inasmuch as nature was brought into service, co-operating and sympathizing in the work (cf. Psalm 77:15.). The dividing of the sea opens, and the dividing of the Jordan closes, the journey through the desert to Canaan. The sea stood aside, Jordan halted and was dammed up on the north in order that the redeemed people might pass through. And in the middle, between these great wonders of the exodus from Egypt and the entrance into Canaan, arises the not less mighty wonder of the giving of the Law: the skipping of the mountains like rams, of the ills like בּני־צאן, i.e., lambs (Wisd. 19:9), depicts the quaking of Sinai and its environs (Exodus 19:18, cf. supra Psalm 68:9, and on the figure Psalm 29:6).
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