Egyptian Hallel

Old Testament: Judges 15 & 16

*Poetry: Psalm 114

New Testament: Luke 14

In yesterday’s devotion, we learned that Psalms 113-118 comprise the “Hallel,” or praise. These verses are recited or sung together at Jewish observances such as Passover. These specific verses are called the “Egyptian Hallel” to identify them from two other passages in Psalms also referred to as “Hallel.” Today, our reading brings us to Psalm 114, which focuses on praising God’s rescue of the nation of Israel from Egypt and contributing to the moniker “Egyptian Hallel.”

Instead of focusing on a detailed account of the exodus from Egypt, Psalm 114 uses beautiful language to focus the reader on the majesty of God displayed throughout that time period. It centers on the miracles that God uses to fulfill His promises to His people. In the eight short couplets, we get a sense that all things, including nature, are under God’s control.

Israel was never meant to make Egypt their home. In fact, in the first two verses, we read, “When Israel went forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language.” It is a recognition that they did not belong there and were being delivered from their oppressors.

Throughout the remaining verses, we read about miracles performed during the exodus from Egypt and while Israel wandered for forty years. While in the desert, God performed miracles, such as bringing forth water from rock, to provide for His people. The verses also refer to “the mountains skipped like rams,” which happened when the Lord descended to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). The psalmist shows how even the earth obeys God’s word and reacts to His mighty power.

By stating, “The sea looked and fled, Jordan turned back,” the psalmist encapsulates the beginning and end of Israel’s journey. He refers to the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) and the crossing of the Jordan under Joshua’s command (Joshua 3). He shows the completion of the work that began in Egypt. It’s affirmation that God sees all things through to completeness and within His time.

Though these verses are used in the Passover feast to remember the exodus and thank God for His miracles, I feel that they are also a promise to us. Like the nation of Israel living in Egypt, we too are a people living among “people of a strange language.” As sin grows within our world today, it becomes increasingly challenging to adhere to our faith and follow God’s word. But like Israel laboring within Egypt, we must labor within this world, holding fast to the promise that God has something much better in store for us. John 17:14-16 says, “I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” This is not our home. We must keep our eyes focused forwards on the Kingdom of God.

Isn’t it beautiful to think about the coming Kingdom? As a child, I always wondered when it would be established. In my lifetime? After my death? We will never know the exact time, but that’s not what is important. What is important is that God will fulfill His promises, just like He brought His promises to Israel to completion.

Just like within the exodus, even nature will obey God’s commands. Psalm 114 states, “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.” In Revelation, we read about several earthquakes that will occur in the end times (during the opening of the seals and the bowls of God’s wrath), as well as other natural events that will reveal God’s power to the inhabitants of the earth.

To me, it is interesting how Psalm 114 mirrors our own wait for the promise of the Kingdom and the events that will lead to its establishment. As we go throughout this week, let’s reflect on what we are doing to prepare. Are we being faithful like the Israelites in Egypt? Are we prepared spiritually to endure a wait? Are we thankful for the promises that will be fulfilled?

~Jen Siderius

Reflection Questions

  1. Spend some time considering the questions at the end of today’s devotion.
  2. Consider your view of God – are there any areas where your view does not completely match the God we see in our Bible reading? Any areas where your view is too small, too powerless?

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