Observe In this Hallel psalm, Verse 1 recalls the Exodus as God reveals His consequential plans – Judah became His sanctuary/Israel His dominion (2). God shakes up the earth – seas, rivers, mountains – and the poet questions why (5,6). The answer is pictorial: the earth trembles at the manifestations of His power over creation (8).
Interpret This hymn of praise, with the others in this series of Passover songs, celebrates God’s work in His people. The ESV study notes explain that Judah here represents Israel when it came out of exile (… from a people of strange language (2b)).
The poetic imagery in this Psalm is striking: the bodies of water seem to flee - the Red Sea splits in half (Ex. 14:21-22), the Jordan River divides (Josh. 3:15-17); the mountains leap, shaking (think God’s presence to Moses at Sinai, Ex. 19:18-20). Nature seems terrified of the Lord, for He is the powerful maker and shaker of creation.
The events of verse 8 are recorded in Ex. 17:6 and Num. 20:8-13 (where Moses struck the rock twice rather than speaking to it as the Lord commanded, and was barred from entering the Promised Land). God is not to be trifled with.
Apply We had best not trifle with Him, either. In our context, God commands our worship in community (Heb.10:25). But are we comfortably and passively watching services at our convenience and calling this ‘worship’? Does God perform for our convenience? Dangerous thoughts, those. Reading blogs (and not reading the Word on which they’re based), or substituting small group/house ‘church’ meetings for communal prayer and praise, sacrament and the preached Word isn’t worshipping in the Body of Christ, however good these are as additions. We express our active, determined commitment to God by attending our local church in the company of His people. We are each a building block set in place, and any gaps (our absences) weaken the structure of our community.
We’re moving into a kind of exile as the world gets less tolerant of the One Whose people we are. We need to stand our ground, and that ground is – Jesus. We grab onto His grace to exercise faith in Him, strengthen this faith through regular prayer (personal, in small groups, via prayer teams or asking faith-filled friends to pray for and with us, attending prayer-worship Sundays as we conclude each chapter of Love Your Church); worship together (Sundays or other special times); serve one another and God, wherever needs are. There are plenty (just ask the music ministry folk)!
We are His Church, not meant to be alone, or loners. Illness or age necessarily prevents some from attending, but we can visit or call, offering fellowship so vital to community.
God takes us seriously, loves us seriously. Surely, despite the siren calls of comfort and convenience or fear of involvement, we can become a lively, alive part of God’s church. And we take Him seriously. We must.
Ask What ails us, that we flee? That we turn back from fellowship or skip Sunday worship? Lord, will You shake us by Your powerful love, prod us to be Your community? Will you help us to take You seriously, to regularly gather with our faith family in thanks for Your love?
Pray Lord, thank You for the technology You give us to use, especially during Covid. But we need to meet as Your chosen Body. Please reveal to us our deep need to worship You, together.
Why Did You Flee - Sons of Korah
When Israel Came out of Egypt - Guildford Cathedral Choir
Psalm 114 (Tonus Peregrinus) - St. Thomas Men’s and Boys’ Choir
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.