Psalm 114:3

These verses are poetical representations of three actual facts which are recorded in the history of God's people. We may see facts in their bare, bald nakedness, or we may see them with the color on them which poetical genius can put. It may be disputed whether bald history or suggestive poetry is really the truer to nature, just as it may be disputed whether the realistic or the idealistic picture is the truer to life. If nature is to suggest thoughts to men, then men only see Nature aright when they know what she says as well as what she is. The poet tells us what Nature says. In these verses we are made to understand that the sea felt God working in it, and yielded to his touch. Jordan felt God working in it, and stopped its flowing. Sinai felt God working in it, and responded with a trembling of reverence and holy joy. The response of Nature is a lesson for man. God would work in his higher powers and his higher spheres; and his response should be more prompt than the hurrying waves, more complete than the check of the river's flowing, and more joyous than the trembling and dances of the divinely honored hills. The psalmist was the moral teacher of his times, and had a definite purpose before him in thus recalling the most impressive events of the national history. His point may be thus briefly stated: Nature does respond to God and serve his purposes, - and man should.

I. NATURE DOES RESPOND TO GOD AND SERVE HIS PURPOSES. This may be illustrated from the usual and the unusual. Pagans peopled the woods and streams and hills with fairies; Wordsworth poetically conceived of Nature as a living being. Religion finds God working out his thought everywhere, and everything responsive to his use. Nature is not God; it is distinct from him. But it is so kin with him that, unhindered, his thought finds expression in it. And so responsive is Nature to God, that it readily yields itself to the unusual, to the miraculous, when these are necessary to God's purposes. Seas will part, rivers will stop, mountains will tremble, in response to him. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."

II. MAN SHOULD RESPOND TO GOD AND SERVE HIS PURPOSES. He should, because he is a part of Nature, and ought to be in harmony with her. But man is a higher being than any thing or being in Nature - a being with a will, a being made in God's image. It is his willing response, it is his loving and obedient outworking of the Divine purposes, that God asks of restored exiles and of us. - R.T.

The sea saw it, and fled.
I. ANTAGONISMS ARE QUELLED. Wherever the Church has advanced —

1. Sin and Satan have receded. Where it has not been so the Church is to blame. The promise depends on the proper spirit, and the use of proper means.

2. Idolatry has receded. Christianity simply annihilated the classical, Druidical, Saxon, Tartar, and Scandinavian mythologies, the bloody rites of the South Seas, and is now doing the same for the debasing superstitions of Africa and the foul abominations of Hindostan.

3. Infidelity has receded. For all the ancient philosophies she proved an overmatch.

II. BOUNDARIES ARE REMOVED. "Jordan was driven back."

1. Christianity levels all class distinctions. To all castes, Jewish, Roman, Indian, etc., it is a formidable foe. It reduces all mankind to one common level of crying need, for which but one provision has been made.

2. Christianity obliterates all physical barriers. It goes into all the world and preaches the Gospel to every creature. It was not made for home consumption, but is the property of all nations.

3. Christianity fills up all intellectual chasms. No greater remove could possibly be than that between the old philosopher and the common people. Christianity appeals to both. Its truths are The food of the scholar and the refreshment of the slave.

III. DIFFICULTIES ARE OVERCOME. "The mountains skipped," etc.

1. All difficulties of nature. Wherever Christianity has appeared "the valleys have been exalted," etc. Crooked ways have been made straight. No mountain has been too high, no sea too broad, no continent too wide, for the pioneers and missionaries of the faith.

2. All difficulties of human prejudice. Armies have been levied to extirpate it. Fires have been kindled to burn it. Learning has been accumulated to refute it, but in vain. IN CONCLUSION. This history is prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy in some instances. It holds good through the ages. Let the Church in the strength of it redouble her efforts, brighten her hope, perfect her faith, and go on conquering and to conquer.

(J. W. Burn.).

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.

1. The majesty of God.(1) God is great in His moral excellence (ver. 1). "Mercy" and "truth" lie at the foundation of all moral greatness. The grand mission of Christ was to bring these into the world in the most impressive forms. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ." All sound beliefs or convictions are based on truth or reality. Without love all is selfishness, and selfishness is the essence of sin. Without truth all is sham, and sham is the curse of the world. In God these two exist in essential unity and in infinite perfection.(2) God is great in His sovereignty (ver. 3). He is over all. There is no being above Him, the highest are infinitely below Him, and in all His operations He is absolutely free. He hath no counsellor to teach Him new methods of action, no power to restrain Him in any course. He acts according to His own good pleasure, the only being who is absolutely free, independent, and irresponsible.

2. The worthlessness of idols (vers. 4-8).(1) Material productions.(2) Human productions.(3) Worth. less productions.(4) Lying productions.(5) Symbolic productions. They are but the visible forms of the brutish ignorance, stupidity, and depravity of those who made and worshipped them, mere embodiments of their ideas and wishes.

II. A consciousness of GOD'S GOODNESS INSPIRING THE HIGHEST PHILANTHROPY. What is the highest philanthropy? That whose main object is to draw men to the One True and Living God; and the man who is conscious of God's goodness, who has "tasted and seen that the Lord is good," will surely address himself to this work — the work of drawing men to God (Romans 10:1). This is what the psalmist felt (vers. 9-15).

III. A consciousness of GOD'S PROPERTY LEADING TO A SENSE OF OUR STEWARDSHIP (ver. 16). He who created the universe owns it, is is His absolute property, and how vast, how immeasurable it is! (1 Chronicles 29:11). But this sense of God's unbounded wealth leads to the impression of our stewardship of the earth which He hath given us. To the "children of men," not to a class, but given to them as air and light, and fire and water are given for their common use.



Every careful reader can see the connection between this 115th psalm and the one which precedes it. In the 114th psalm we see the gracious and grateful Jews sitting around the passover table, having eaten of the lamb, and singing of the miracles of Jehovah at the Red Sea and the Jordan. It must have been a very jubilant song that they sang, "What ailed thee, O thou sea," etc. When that joyful hymn was finished, and the cup of wine was passed round the table, they struck another note. They remembered their sad condition, as they heard the heathen say, "Where is now their God?" They recollected that, perhaps, for many a year there had been no miracle, no prophet, no open vision, and then they began to chant a prayer that God would appear — not for their sakes, but for His own name's sake, that the ancient glory, which He won for Himself at the Red Sea and the Jordan, might not be lost, and that the heathen might no longer be able tauntingly to say, "Where is now their God?"

I. A POWERFUL PLEA IN PRAYER: "Not unto us," etc. There are times when this is the only plea that God's people can use. There are other occasions when we can plead with God to bless us, for this reason or for that; but, sometimes, there come dark experiences, when there seems to be no reason that can suggest itself to us why God should give us deliverance, or vouchsafe us a blessing, except this one, — that He would be pleased to do it in order to glorify His own name. You may be emboldened to urge that plea, notwithstanding the vileness of the person for whom you plead. In fact, the sinfulness of the sinner may even be your plea that God's mercy and lovingkindness may be seen the more resplendently by all who know of the sinful soul's guilt.

II. THE TRUE SPIRIT OF PIETY. "Not unto us, O Lord," etc. That is to say, true religion does not seek its own honour. For instance, suppose, in preaching the Gospel, a man has, even as a small part of his motive, that he may be esteemed an eloquent person, or that he may have influence over other men's minds; — for it is lamentably true that this mixture of motives may steal over the preacher's soul. Ah! but we must fight against this evil with all our might. Somebody once told Master John Bunyan that he had preached a delightful sermon. "You are too late," said John, "the devil told me that before I left the pulpit." Satan is a great adept in teaching us how to steal our Master's glory. "Glory be to God," should always be the preacher's motto. And as it should be so with our preaching, do you not think that the same thing is true concerning our praying?

III. A SAFE GUIDE IS THEOLOGY. When I am going to read the Scriptures, to know what I am to believe, to learn what is to be my creed, even before I open my Bible, it is a good thing to say, "Not unto us, O Lord," etc. This is, to my mind, a test of what is true and what is false. If you meet with a system of theology which magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can. This is why I believe in the doctrines of grace. I believe in Divine election, because somebody must have the supreme will in this matter, and man's will must not .occupy the throne, but the will of God. The words of Jehovah stand fast like the great mountains.


1. This text will help you in the selection of your sphere of service. You will always be safe in doing that which is not for your own glory, but which is distinctly for the glory of God.

2. Sometimes my text will guide you as to which you should choose out of two courses of action that lie before you. What flesh revolts against, your spirit should choose. Say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory. I will do that which will most honour my Lord and Master, and not that which would best please myself."


1. This is the spirit in which to live. Has God blessed us? Do we look back upon honourable and useful lives? Have we been privileged to preach the Gospel, and has the Lord given us converts? Then, let us be sure to stick to the text: "Not unto us, O Lord," etc.

2. Aye, and when the time comes for us to die, this is the spirit in which to die, for it is the beginning of heaven. What are they doing in heaven? If we could look in there, what should we see? There are crowns there, laid up for those that fight the good fight, and finish their course; but do you see what the victors are doing with their crowns? They will not wear them; no, not they; but they cast them down at Christ's feet, crying, "Not unto us," etc.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The inspired author seems to have had his thoughts employed in the contemplation of some public blessing vouchsafed to the house of Israel, and to the house of Aaron; some late and remarkable instance of God's having been their help and their shield; a devout sense of which made him break out into these words, fall of great humility and pious gratitude: "Not unto us, O Lord," etc.

1. When the psalmist denies that the glory of those mighty and wonderful successes, wherewith God's people are at any time blessed, doth belong to them, he intimates that men are apt to ascribe the praise thereof to their own merits, counsels or achievements.

2. When he with earnestness and vehemence repeats that denial, he doth by such reiterated negation imply the great folly and impiety of men's thus ascribing the glory of such successes to themselves, or to any of the children of men.

3. When he expresses his desire that the glory thereof may be given to God's name, he directs us to pay the tribute of praise and thanksgiving to that sovereign Being, to whom only of right it is due.

4. When he requires that this glory should be given to God for His mercy and for His truth's sake, he instructs us that when we receive such blessings from the hands of God, we derive them, not from His justice, but from His clemency; they are not such as we can of right claim, but such as He, out of His unbounded goodness, and regard to those gracious promises, which He hath made to His Church, vouchsafes to grant.

(Bishop Smalridge.)

I was reading of the battle of Agincourt, in which Henry V figured; and, it is said, after the battle was won — gloriously won — the king wanted to acknowledge the Divine interposition, and he ordered the chaplain to read the psalm of David, and when he came to the words, "Not unto us, O Lord, but unto Thy name be the praise," the king dismounted, and all the cavalry dismounted, and all the great host of officers and men threw themselves on their faces. Oh, at the story of the Saviour's love and the Saviour's deliverance, shall we not prostrate ourselves before Him to-night, hosts of earth and hosts of heaven, falling upon our faces, and crying, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the glory."

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Jacob, Psalmist
Backward, Driven, Fled, Fleeth, Flight, Jordan, Turneth
1. The miracles wrought by God, when he brought his people out of Egypt,
7. are a just ground of fearing him.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 114:1-4

     7223   exodus, significance

February the Third Transforming the Hard Heart
The Lord "turned the flint into a fountain of waters." --PSALM cxiv. What a violent conjunction, the flint becoming the birthplace of a spring! And yet this is happening every day. Men who are as "hard as flint," whose hearts are "like the nether millstone," become springs of gentleness and fountains of exquisite compassion. Beautiful graces, like lovely ferns, grow in the home of severities, and transform the grim, stern soul into a garden of fragrant friendships. This is what Zacchaeus was like
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

This has been explained in the Introduction (pages xii-xiii) as a term applied to a highly characteristic form of prophetic literature, amounting to spiritual drama: actual dramatic dialogue and action being combined with other literary modes of expression to produce the general effect of dramatic realisation and movement. Some of the examples (I-III) are complete rhapsodies; IV is a discourse that becomes rhapsodic at its conclusion; V is a rhapsodic morceau, a single thought cast in this literary
Various—Select Masterpieces of Biblical Literature

To Pastors and Teachers
To Pastors and Teachers If all who laboured for the conversion of others were to introduce them immediately into Prayer and the Interior Life, and make it their main design to gain and win over the heart, numberless as well as permanent conversions would certainly ensue. On the contrary, few and transient fruits must attend that labour which is confined to outward matters; such as burdening the disciple with a thousand precepts for external exercises, instead of leaving the soul to Christ by the
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

(i) As of the De Spiritu Sancto, so of the Hexæmeron, no further account need be given here. It may, however, be noted that the Ninth Homily ends abruptly, and the latter, and apparently more important, portion of the subject is treated of at less length than the former. Jerome [472] and Cassiodorus [473] speak of nine homilies only on the creation. Socrates [474] says the Hexæmeron was completed by Gregory of Nyssa. Three orations are published among Basil's works, two on the creation
Basil—Basil: Letters and Select Works

The Acceptable Sacrifice;
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Effectual Calling
THE second qualification of the persons to whom this privilege in the text belongs, is, They are the called of God. All things work for good "to them who are called." Though this word called is placed in order after loving of God, yet in nature it goes before it. Love is first named, but not first wrought; we must be called of God, before we can love God. Calling is made (Rom. viii. 30) the middle link of the golden chain of salvation. It is placed between predestination and glorification; and if
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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