SKIPPING FOR JOY!
Lord, Your power to deliver is incomprehensible.
Read PSALM 114
1 When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
2 Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
4 the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
5 Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
6 Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!’ (Joachim Neander, 1650–80)
As a child, I derived great pleasure from my skipping rope. It brings back happy memories of high-spirited abandon!
Our psalm takes us back to the Exodus from Egypt, when the Lord rescued Israel from slavery – and it is equally high-spirited and full of skipping! It tells of a people made to serve God (1,2). It tells of waters repulsed, of mountains shaken (3,4); again, the waters repulsed, the mountains shaken (5,6) and a world made to serve God’s people (7,8) (This kind of poetic structure is called ‘chiastic’). With the psalm’s simplicity goes a sense of exultation; it draws the reader into desiring to skip for joy too. Between implied references (3,5) to the crossings of the Red Sea and – at the other end of the Exodus – the Jordan, comes the earthquake at Mount Sinai (4), when God gave to His people His covenant demands and made them His ‘treasured possession’ (Exod 19:5). This was a significant and solemn moment. It was the start of their special relationship with God, so it is appropriate that nature itself is described as skipping with joy, yet also trembling before the awesome presence of the Lord (7).
We, too, who have been invited into a relationship with God through Jesus, naturally desire to praise Him and to express our joy because He has rescued us from the slavery of sin. Older readers may not turn to skipping, but we all have ways in which we can show our love and gratitude to the one who has saved us. We do well to tremble before Him, too. Worship includes reverence and awe, for ‘our “God is a consuming fire”’ (Heb 12:29) That fire was unleashed on his people at the time to which Obadiah refers, because they had lost sight of who God really is. Let us not make the same mistake.
How do you express your joy and gratitude to God for all He has done for you?
Lord, the earth trembles at Your presence. Thank You for redeeming us so that we do not have to quake in mortal dread of You.
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