Meditations in Exodus: 48. Song of Triumph
Ex 15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.
I am not a very musical person and songs and music don’t play a large part in my life. Sorry about that. However songs, I believe, convey something of the state of mind and songs sometimes (in me as well) just burst out of us when we are feeling good. The first part of chapter 15 is a song: “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD.” (v.1a) They didn’t just sing it, they sung it to the Lord; it was an offering of thanks, praise and worship because of who God is and what he had just done: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.” (v.1b) There is no question here but they refer to His having destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the sea that they had passed through.
They then speak of what they feel about Him as a result of this: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (v.2) The ‘I AM’ who had revealed Himself to Abram, Isaac and Jacob and then more recently to Moses, is not a distant God but one who had come and been their salvation, their deliverer.
Then they revert to what the Lord has just done: “The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone.” (v.3-5) Now there are those who dispute whether the Exodus ever happened because, they say, there appear no records of such a thing in the Egyptian records. That is not surprising because it would have shown up Egypt very badly, but not only is there the record in the chapters we have just been following, we now have this song which refers to the overcoming of Pharaoh and the destruction of his army. Why bother to write such a thing, why bother to include it here if it were untrue? No Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea.
This action truly revealed the greatness of the power of the Lord: “Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.” (v.6-8) In poetic terms they extol His greatness, His power, acknowledging how He had brought down the enemy and left them in the sea.
They remember Pharaoh’s pride: “The enemy boasted, `I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.” (v.10a) Pharaoh had thought himself so strong that he would easily overtake and destroy Israel but, “you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” (v.10b) They were no match for the Lord and so they are all drowned.
This amazing action marks out the Lord from all other gods: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.” (v.11,12) He just stretched out His hand and the whole of Pharaoh’s army were dealt with.
But then the song speaks in faith of the future: “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall upon them.” (v.13-16a) The Lord will lead His people and the onlooking nations will hear of what He does and they will tremble. Yes, this is exactly how it will be: “By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone– until your people pass by, O LORD, until the people you bought pass by.” (v.16b) Yes, the neighbouring nations will hold their breath and stand as stone until Israel have passed by and then they can breath easily again. But there is more; “You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance– the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. The LORD will reign for ever and ever.” (v.17,18) God has a plan for Israel, He has a home for them and He will take them to it and His glory will be seen.
The song concludes with a summary: “When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.” (v.19) This song concludes with the bald statement that GOD dealt with Pharaoh and his army by drowning them in the sea. This was His judgment on them. This was the song Moses and all Israel sang but Miriam added a rider: “Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.” (v.20,21)
Again and again this song testifies to the historical truth – God brought His judgment on Pharaoh and his army by drowning them in the same sea that Israel had just passed through safely. (v.4,5,10,12,19,21) But it is more that just a song of victory, it is a prophetic declaration of what will yet happen in the days ahead as the Lord leads Israel and in that it is highly accurate.
Testimony is very important. Testimony is a declaration of what the Lord HAS done. The more we testify the more we realise the wonder of what God has done in our lives. Whether you do it before other people or you simply do it in prayer, declare again and again the wonders of what God has done for you personally. Let your testimony be a base for praise, thanksgiving and worship, and as you testify your faith will rise and the Holy Spirit may be able to speak through you the things yet to come, the things He wants for your life, the things He wants to do through you. May it be so.