Select Page

Psalm 114 closes with a roaring finale:

[7] Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
[8] who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water. (Psalm 114:7-8)

What you might not have noticed up to this point is that v. 7 is the first point at which any kind of name or title for God has actually been mentioned in Psalm 114. V. 2 came the closest, but only used a possessive pronoun: “Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.”

I like Spurgeon’s take on this:

The pronoun “his” comes in where we should have looked for the name of God; but the poet is so full of thought concerning the Lord that he forgets to mention his name, like the spouse in the Song, who begins, “Let him kiss me,” or Magdalene when she cried, “Tell me where thou hast laid him.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. III [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963], 41.)

The other result is to heighten the drama of this passage: Who indeed is it who caused the sea to flee? Who did cause the Jordan to turn back? For whom do the hills skip like rams, and the hills like rams?

And then suddenly, in v. 7, the cause of these wonders is suddenly revealed–along with a command: “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob!” You cannot discover this person without being forced to respond to him personally yourself.

All of creation, then, is commanded to tremble at the presence of the Lord. Don’t miss what is happening here: suddenly all the earth is commanded to obey the God of Jacob. Because God saved Jacob, God is now able to bring all the earth to himself.

But what does the psalmist mean when he writes that we are to “tremble” at the presence of the Lord? Although this doesn’t bear much resemblance to typical kinds of evangelism that we engage in today, a command to tremble before the Lord is a command to embrace the Lord’s salvation. For example, look at a similar sentiment expressed in Psalm 2:

[10]     Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
[11]     Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
[12]     Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

Although the word for “trembling” in v. 11 is not the same word used in Psalm 114, the ideas are very similar. Where rebellious waters were called to account in Psalm 114:3-6, now rebellious humans are called to repentance. God has provided salvation for all who believe through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; therefore kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.

But at this point, someone might raise a major objection about the kind of God pictured in this psalm. Is he just the ultimate bully? Is he only after throwing his weight around and intimidating people?

No. God is not a bully, and for this reason the psalmist closes on v. 8, explaining that this is the God “who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.”

The reference here is to the many times where God’s people became very thirsty in the wilderness, and, although they very often asked for water by complaining and doubting God’s ability and/or desire to provide for them, God brought forth water from waterless places, such as from the sides of rocks. The point of v. 8 is that God is not out to dominate and destroy us, but to tenderly meet our needs.

But God does not only meet our physical needs. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, explains that the water that God gave his people from the rock had far more significance than quenching their physical thirst:

[10:1] For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [3] and all ate the same spiritual food, [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

Even before Christ had been born as a human in this earth, God was already giving his Son to his people to quench their spiritual thirst. Jesus Christ is the fountain of living waters, and he is the most precious gift the Father could ever give to us–but he does! God gives us his Son Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and he will do so even when he must turn rock into a pool of water, or flint into a spring of water to do so.

Still, don’t make the mistake of thinking that God somehow owes us all this–forgiving us of our sins, cleansing us of our unrighteousness, clothing us with the righteousness of Christ, conforming us to the image of Christ, counting us as sons and heirs along with Christ, and much more. God gives us all of these things because he is stunningly gracious, and for no other reason.

And so, when God demands repentance, commanding the whole earth to tremble at his presence, this is not a command that we can take lightly.

Don’t be a fool–kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Post Series on Psalm 114:

  1. Jesus Christ, the Sanctuary and Dominion of God (Psalm 114:1-2)
  2. Creation’s Response to the Salvation of Jesus Christ (Psalm 114:3-6)
  3. The Repentance Demanded by Jesus Christ (Psalm 114:7-8)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This