Reading: Psalm 114
When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water (NIV).
“Why?” A four-year-old’s favourite question is, “Why?” Here in Psalm 114, the psalmist has some why questions as well. “Why did the sea flee? Why did the Jordan River turn back? Why did those mountains and hills seem to skip and dance? Why?”
The answer of course is because of the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, heart-stopping power of God. God caused the sea to flee. He caused the Jordan to turn back. He caused mountains and hills to skip about and frolic like yearling lambs set free from the stall. What an awesome display! What an awesome God!
Psalm 114 is all about the overwhelming power of God. It is a grand portrayal of the pivotal event in the Old Testament Scriptures. Here within a few short verses we catch a panoramic view of God’s might on display, starting with Israel’s escape from Egypt, to their arrival in the Promised Land.
Why did the miracle-working LORD make the sea flee? Was it simply to display His awe-inducing power? Was it simply to create excitement among the million or more mortals, who were eyewitnesses to this divine wonder? In the Exodus account, the reason for this miraculous intervention is stated clearly: That day the LORD saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant (Exodus 14:30-31).
This power display had one primary purpose. That purpose was salvation. The LORD wanted to save people—His covenant people—from the vicious clutches of oppression and a tyranny. In short, the LORD works wonders so that He can save people—so He can bring them into His Kingdom—so they can escape the sin systems of this world, and come under His loving rule.
Response: Father God, thank you for going all out to save me through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus. What a display of your love and power! Help me to love, fear and trust you. Amen.
Your Turn: Why did God save you? Is there a reason for His mercy?
Reading: Psalm 89
The heavens praise your wonders, LORD,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is in it.
You created the north and the south;
Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
Your arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand exalted (NIV).
At this point memories of the Olympics are starting to fade. We can talk ourselves into believing that those golden podium moments will last forever, but they don’t. They are highlights in athletic achievement and well worth celebrating. In some events world records have been set, but in due time they will be broken. It seems they always are.
How do we determine gold medal performances? By comparison of course. That’s what Olympic competition is all about. The results of a team or athlete are compared with others in their field. Though many compete on the local, national and world stage, only the very best bring home Olympic gold.
That’s how winners are determined on the human level—the world level. But what about the heavenly level—the spiritual level? How are the best and most powerful determined there? In our reading from Psalm 89, the psalmist attempts to come up with an answer.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
The truth is obvious. There is no point in comparison. The LORD God Almighty is incomparable. He wins every race since He is enthroned beyond time. As the Creator, He is the source—the starting point—of all power in heaven and on earth. His wisdom is so beyond the best human mind. He is incomparable!
Response: LORD God, I marvel at your wisdom and power. But most of all I marvel at your love—love that encompasses all—even me. Thank you, LORD! Amen.
Your Turn: Did you enjoy watching the Olympics? Is there value in competition?