MDB 44: Exodus 15

Iain D Campbell

Deliverance always leads to praise! God's people praise him because he has redeemed them; worthy of all praise as our Creator, he is especially to be worshipped as our Redeemer and Saviour. What are the themes of their song?

First, they sing of the greatness of God. They rejoice in his name: the LORD is his name. Here there are clear echoes of chapter 3, where God revealed his name to Moses, and vindicated his character in the subsequent history of God's people. 

They sing of God's character. He is 'a man of war'. God's people are not simply embroiled in a political conflict, but a deeply spiritual one. They can only overcome through the power of God assisting them.

They sing of the covenant nature of God. The song is intensely personal; 'The Lord is MY strength and MY song,' he says, 'and he has become MY salvation' (verse 2). That, at last, is the beauty of all God's great works and wonders in the Bible: they become personal to all those who experience his power and grace.

Second, they sing of the pride and folly of Pharaoh. The song builds up the picture of Pharaoh and his men scheming to overthrow God and his people, saying 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them' (15:9). One can hear the plans whirling round Pharaoh's head as the chariot wheels pummel the ground, gathering speed, recklessly chasing after the covenant people of God.

Yet all it takes is for God to blow with his wind (15:10), and the Egyptian armies are no more. All the plans of men and gods come to nothing when God acts in judgement over his enemies.

Third, they sing of the purpose of God's salvation.  God is not acting arbitrarily in all of this; he is working out his sovereign purposes, leading out his people, in covenant love and mercy, according to his plan to guide them to his holy abode (15:13). And all the kings of the nations are pictured as standing silent and open-mouthed as God brings his purchased, redeemed Israel to the sanctuary he has established (15:17). He reigns eternally (15:18).

The song is tested at Marah, where bitter waters must be made sweet. It is one thing to see your enemy drowned in water; it is another thing to be thirsty for lack of refreshing water. Yet the Lord who is a warrior is also a healer (15:26), always meeting the needs of his covenant people.