A. The Song of Moses.
1. (1-5) First stanza: The Lord is a man of war.
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying:
“I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.”
a. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord: This remarkable song is assumed to have come spontaneously as Moses led the nation into the wilderness on the other side of the Red Sea. They sang this song when their salvation was real to them. They sang it when the power and the presence of God were real to them.
i. God prizes these spontaneous expressions of praise and worship. This was a new song sung unto the Lord (as in Psalm 40:3). “There are moods of the soul that can only be expressed in poetry and in music.” (Morgan)
ii. “This is the very first of those sacred songs preserved in Scripture, and in some respects it is first in merit as well as in time.” (Spurgeon)
b. I will sing to the Lord: One great principles of worship is that it is unto the Lord, not unto man. When we worship God in song, our audience is the Lord Himself and not the people around us.
i. “The first verse of this song was quoted by David. I think you will find it in almost the same words three times in the Psalms.” (Spurgeon)
c. The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! They praised God because He did what Israel could not do.
d. The Lord is my strength and song: When we let God be our strength, He will also be our song. We will sing because of the victory won by the great strength of the Lord. We will have a singing joy in our life because His strength will not let us down.
i. “Notice, the song is all of God; there is not a word about Moses. Read this song through, and neither Moses, nor Aaron, nor Miriam are in it: God is all in all.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Note, the word is not ‘The Lord gives me strength,’ but ‘The Lord is my strength’! How strong is a believer? I say it with reverence, he is as strong as God - ‘The Lord is my strength.’” (Spurgeon)
e. He has become my salvation: This is a glorious phrase. It recognizes that we cannot save ourselves, but God must become our salvation.
i. “He who has God for his strength, will have him for his song; and he to whom Jehovah is become salvation, will exalt his name.” (Clarke)
2. (6-10) Second stanza: You have overthrown those who rose against You.
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.’
You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”
a. Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces: Moses and the people described what God did to the Egyptians, and they gloried in the defeat of God’s enemies. If we really love the Lord, we should glory in the defeat of God’s enemies.
b. Your right hand: The right hand was thought to be the hand of skill and power. When God works with His right hand, it is a work of skill and power.
i. Obviously, this is the use of anthropomorphism, understanding something about God by using a human figure of speech, even though it does not literally apply.
ii. This idea of the right hand is used in the Scriptures more than fifty times, including these passages:
Š Psalm 45:4: God’s right hand teaches us
Š Psalm 48:10: God’s right hand is full of righteousness
Š Psalm 77:10: Remembrance of the years of the right hand of the Most High
Š Psalm 110:1: The Father invites the Son to sit at His right hand
Š Habakkuk 2:16: The cup of God’s judgment is held in His right hand
Š Ephesians 1:20: Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father
3. (11-13) Third stanza: Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.
You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.”
a. Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? If the people of Egypt still did not know who the Lord was, the people of Israel did. They knew the Lord was not like any of the false gods of Egypt or Canaan.
b. Who is like You: Worship should proclaim the superiority of the Lord God over anything else that claims to be god. Israel soon and often forgot this, but we can remember it.
4. (14-18) Fourth and fifth stanza: The people will hear and be afraid.
“The people will hear and be afraid;
Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.
Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;
The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.
Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.
You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
In the place, O Lord, which You have made
For Your own dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”
a. All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away: Moses and the children of Israel knew that the victory also said something to the enemies of Israel. They would become afraid when they heard of the great things God did for Israel.
b. Fear and dread will fall on them: Some forty years later Rahab the prostitute from Jericho told the Israeli spies: For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt (Joshua 2:10). The people of Canaan did hear of what God did for Israel and some responded with godly fear.
c. The Lord shall reign forever and ever: After such a great victory we can sense that Israel really believed this, and they were really ready to let the Lord reign over them. This state of victory and surrender did not last very long.
i. Yet, the enduring truth remains - the Lord shall reign forever and ever. This Song of Moses echoes all the way to the Book of Revelation, where a multitude that has come from great suffering, has experienced great victory, and stands on the shores of a great sea, sing this song:
They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”
ii. The heart, the spirit of this song of Moses rings true in the people of God, who want to praise Him and thank Him for all the good He has done for His people. They sing in view of deliverance, of victory, of defense, of confidence.
iii. “It is obvious, then, from the plentiful allusions to this song in holy scripture, that it is full of deep spiritual significance. It teaches us not only to praise God concerning the literal overthrow of Egypt, but to praise him concerning the overthrow of all the powers of evil, and the final deliverance of all the chosen.” (Spurgeon)
5. (19-21) Miriam, Moses’ sister, leads the women in worship.
For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them:
“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”
a. Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron: This is the first mention of Miriam by name, and she is described as the sister of Aaron, so she is therefore also the sister of Moses (Exodus 4:14).
i. Numbers 26:59 seems to indicate that Moses had only one sister. We do know that it was his sister who supervised the launching of the basket onto the Nile River to preserve his life (Exodus 2:4) and arranged the hiring of Moses’ mother as his nurse. Based on Numbers 26:59, we can say this was probably - almost certainly - Miriam. She was the older sister of Moses.
b. Miriam the prophetess: We also see that Miriam had some kind of prophetic gift. Later she used her leadership position in an unwise and ungodly way - to challenge the authority of Moses (Numbers 12).
c. All the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances: On this occasion Miriam led the women’s choir.
B. The bitter water is made drinkable.
1. (22) Three days into the wilderness.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.
a. Moses brought Israel…they went out into the Wilderness of Shur: God’s man led them, but he led them an unusual way. Into the Wilderness of Shur was outside the major trade route along the sea.
b. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water: Three days is not a very long time. But it is long enough to forget the great victory and power of God. Now Israel faced a long trip through difficult and dry desert.
i. “Three days is the maximum time the human body can go without water in the desert.” (Buckingham)
ii. “The Egyptians found enough water, and even too much of it, for they were drowned in the sea, but the well-beloved Israelites had no water at all. So is it with the wicked man; he often has enough of wealth, and too much of it, till he is drowned in sensual delights and perishes in floods of prosperity.” (Spurgeon)
2. (23-25a) Bitter waters made sweet at Marah.
Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them.
a. They could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: It must have seemed like a cruel joke - after three waterless days, they finally came upon water - and found that water undrinkable.
b. So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree: By following God’s direction, Moses made the waters drinkable and Israel found water in the wilderness.
i. “I think, if I had been there, I should have suggested that Moses should use that rod of his. Did he not divide the Red Sea with it? Why not just put his rod into the water, and stir it up, and make it sweet? Oh, yes, you know, we are always for running to old methods! But God is a Sovereign, and he will work as he pleases.” (Spurgeon)
ii. In his work on the Exodus journey, Buckingham explains how this may have worked. The chemicals in the sap of the broken limb drew the mineral content down to the bottom of the pools, and left only good water on top.
iii. He further speculates that even though the waters were now drinkable, there was still a significant magnesium and calcium content in the water. The laxative effect of this would clean out the digestive systems of the children of Israel, cleansing them of common Egyptian ailments such as amoebic dysentery and bilharzia, a weakening disease common among Egyptian peasants. In addition, calcium and magnesium together form the basis of a drug called dolomite - used by some athletes as a performance enhancer in hot weather conditions. At Marah, God provided the right medicine to both clean out their systems, and prepare them for a long, hot march to Sinai.
iv. We can say that God was not only interested in getting the children of Israel out of Egypt, He also wanted to get Egypt out of the children of Israel - both physically and spiritually.
v. A tree: “Medieval commentators delighted to see here a reference to the cross, by which the bitterest of life's waters is sweetened.” (Cole)
3. (25b-27) The testing of Israel.
And there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
a. And there He tested them: God tested Israel by giving them a command to obey. When God tells us what to do, He really gives us a test. Our obedience determines if we pass the test or not.
i. It had yet to be demonstrated by testing whether the children of Israel were a worshipping people who occasionally murmured, or if they were a murmuring people who occasionally worshipped. Their true nature would be revealed in times of testing.
b. I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians: This was God’s promise to an obedient Israel. In many ways, their physical health was directly connected to their obedience.
i. Dr. S.I. McMillen in his book None of These Diseases noted that many of God’s laws to Israel had a direct impact of hygiene and health. Practices such as circumcision, quarantine, washing in running water, and eating kosher made a real medical difference in keeping Israel free from disease.
ii. Beyond the direct medical implications, obedience also means we are at peace with God - and free from a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in life. This has an obvious benefit to the health of any person.
iii. “This miracle was connected with a promise; viz., from now on obedience to commands and statutes would bring healing, both physically and morally.” (Kaiser)
iv. Marah was a place of bitterness and testing, but because Israel endured and received provision from God, the genuinely gained from their time at Marah. They learned prayer, they learned self-distrust, they learned daily dependence, they learned obedience, and they even learned a new name for God.
Š Israel gained by examination at Marah
Š Israel gained by experience at Marah
Š Israel gained by education at Marah
c. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees: After the time of testing God had a time of refreshing for the people of Israel. He knew exactly what they needed, and He knew when to test them and when to rest them.
i. Elim was wonderful – a place of provision, with 12 wells and 70 palm trees. Yet there was no new revelation of God at Elim as there was at Marah, where God revealed Himself as Jehovah-Rapha.
ii. “Israel had no miracle at Elim. Wells and palm trees they had; but they had no miracle there, no miraculous change of the bitter into the sweet; and they had no statute, and no ordinance, and no promise, and no new revelation of God, and no new name for Jehovah there.” (Spurgeon)
©2012 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission