“I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
-The Song of Moses, Exodus 15:1,2
These verses are just the opening of the longer song of Moses, sung after the victory at the Red Sea. You will remember that occasion, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt until they reached the Red Sea. At that point they were trapped, for Pharaoh had changed his mind and sent his army to capture the Israelites and bring them back. So there were the poor Israelites, trapped at the Red Sea. But God rescued them. God empowered Moses so that when he touched the sea with his staff, the waters parted and piled up on each side, leaving a dry path to the other side. The Israelites all crossed safely on dry land, while the pursuing Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea when God let the waters return to their place.
I suppose we don’t often think of Moses leading the Israelites in song. We think of his fiery sermons to Pharaoh, his mighty works in the ten plagues, and his general-like leadership through the Exodus. But here indeed is the song of Moses.
He says he is motivated to sing to the Lord “for he is highly exalted.” And he is highly exalted because “Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.” Meaning, of course, the fate of Pharaoh and his chariots at the disaster of the Red Sea.
Then Moses sings an interesting thing: “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has BECOME my salvation.” But hadn’t God already shown himself to be salvation in freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt? Yes, but there at the Red Sea, God performed a new and awe-inspiring miracle. God showed that he does not always wait. God is not always slow about answering. Here he acted immediately and divided the waters of the Red Sea.
God also showed his power over nature. There is no naturalistic explanation to the dividing of the waters at the Red Sea. It was a special miracle of God. God, the creator of the seas, is also the master over the seas. Even the sea must do as God commands. In a very literal way, God had become the salvation of the Israelites. Because of God’s action, the Israelites were not butchered by the Egyptian army, and they were not drowned in the sea. They were delivered to press on toward the Promised Land. Moses saw what God can do in the physical world. Should he not also believe God’s power to save in the spiritual realm?
So in his song Moses sings, “He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Praise means to repeat and retell the great things God has done. To exalt means to elevate his name above the honor and obedience given to any other name.
We ought to do the same. Praise God! Retell, if even to yourself, the great things God has done for you in your life. And praise him especially for the eternal life he won for you on the cross. Exalt him! Speak of him most highly every chance you get. God has thrown both horse and driver into the sea. For us that means God has beaten back every evil power that threatens to destroy our faith or take away our inheritance in heaven. He has divided the waters so that we do not drown in sorrow and hopelessness.
The Israelites could look forward from the Red sea to see a vast desert they must cross to get to the promised land. But for the moment, they could pause and sing a victory song to their God. We look forward to a continued fight against a dreaded disease. Let us pause each day in the fight to sing a song of praise to our God.