Psalm 114:5
What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled? you Jordan, that you were driven back?
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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.What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?... - literally, "What to thee, O sea," etc. That is, What influenced thee - what alarmed thee - what put thee into such fear, and caused such consternation? Instead of stating the cause or reason why they were thus thrown into dismay, the psalmist uses the language of surprise, as if these inanimate objects had been smitten with sudden terror, and as if it were proper to ask an explanation from themselves in regard to conduct that seemed so strange. 5-8. The questions place the implied answers in a more striking form. What was the cause of this unusual motion? Such speeches directed to senseless creatures are very frequent, both in Scripture and in other authors, and especially in poetical writings, such as this is. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?.... What was the matter with thee? what appeared to thee? what didst thou see? what didst thou feel, which caused thee to flee in such haste?

Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? what is the meaning that thou didst not continue to flow as usual? what was it that stopped thy flowing tide? that cut off thy waters? that drove them back as fast or faster than they came?

What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?
5, 6. The past becomes present to the poet’s mind, and he challenges Nature to explain its behaviour.

The A.V. misses the vividness of the Hebrew tenses. Render:

What aileth thee, thou sea, that thou fleest?

Thou Jordan, that thou turnest back?

Ye mountains, that ye skip like rams?

Ye hills, like young sheep?Verses 5, 6. - What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou filledest thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back t. ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? Most poetically, the psalmist apostrophizes the sea, the Jordan, the mountains, and the lesser hills, inquiring of them for what reason they had forsaken their nature and done such strange things; or rather, addressing them as present, and as if the scenes were being enacted before his eyes, and asking why they are so strangely employed - what is causing the commotion and disturbance (see the Revised Version, where the present tense is used throughout the two verses). The thoughts of Psalm 113:7 and Psalm 113:8 are transplanted from the song of Hannah. עפר, according to 1 Kings 16:2, cf. Psalm 14:7, is an emblem of lowly estate (Hitzig), and אשׁפּת (from שׁפת) an emblem of the deepest poverty and desertion; for in Syria and Palestine the man who is shut out from society lies upon the mezbele (the dunghill or heap of ashes), by day calling upon the passers-by for alms, and by night hiding himself in the ashes that have been warmed by the sun (Job, ii. 152). The movement of the thoughts in Psalm 113:8, as in Psalm 113:1, follows the model of the epizeuxis. Together with the song of Hannah the poet has before his eye Hannah's exaltation out of sorrow and reproach. He does not, however, repeat the words of her song which have reference to this (1 Samuel 2:5), but clothes his generalization of her experience in his own language. If he intended that עקרת should be understood out of the genitival relation after the form עטרת, why did he not write מושׁיבי הבּית עקרה? הבּית would then be equivalent to בּיתה, Psalm 68:7. עקרת הבּית is the expression for a woman who is a wife, and therefore housewife, הבּית (בּעלת) נות, but yet not a mother. Such an one has no settled position in the house of the husband, the firm bond is wanting in her relationship to her husband. If God gives her children, He thereby makes her then thoroughly at home and rooted-in in her position. In the predicate notion אם הבּנים שׂמחה the definiteness attaches to the second member of the string of words, as in Genesis 48:19; 2 Samuel 12:30 (cf. the reverse instance in Jeremiah 23:26, נבּאי השּׁקר, those prophesying that which is false), therefore: a mother of the children. The poet brings the matter so vividly before him, that he points as it were with his finger to the children with which God blesses her.
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