A Song of Praise

Exodus 15 SCC 9/16/12


            There are a number of songs in the Old Testament, each of which carries a message crafted in various kinds of songs. Some are called triumphal odes (a poem meant to be sung) like the song of Moses the great victory of God and his deliverance of the people here in Ex 15 and the song of Deborah and Barak and the great victory over the Canaanites Jgs 5. Others are hymns of thanksgiving like Hannah’s song of dedication of Samuel 1 Sam 2. Still others are classified as dirges (a lament for the dead) like David’s lament over the death of Saul and Jonathan. Yet others identified as traditional oracles (one acting as a medium of prophecy) like Moses oracle sung to Israel in Dt 32. 


         This section is the Song of Praise that Moses and Israel sang after the victory at the Red Sea. Since it is in the context of the Book of Exodus we have the historical setting. Poetry does not always have that advantage, for poetic discourse is by nature general and figurative, easily applicable to many similar situations.


First, in 1b-18 we have the form of the song itself.

Second, 1a is the introduction and the rest of the verse resolves to praise God for his triumph over the Egyptians.

Third, then v 19 gives the occasion for the song—the destruction of Pharaoh.

Fourth, then v 20-21 gives Miriam’s antiphonal singing in response to Moses song. Verse 21 records her words as being identical to the beginning of Moses song, suggesting that throughout the song she and the women responded line by line with singing and dancing.


         The song had to have been written fairly quickly after the event. Early Poetry had familiar parallelisms that could be worked into various songs. The song of Moses is a Victory Song, very much like other declarative praise psalms. True to such types the song begins with the resolve to praise God for his triumph (v. 1) and this is the theme and substance of the song.


The substance of the praise now follows.

The song can be divided into:

the resolve to praise (lb),

the mighty power of the Lord (vv. 2, 3),

the victory over the enemy (vv. 4-10),

the incomparability of the Lord in his redemption (vv. 11-13),

the fear of the people at the prospect of the conquest (vv. 14-17),

and the closing acclamation (v. 18).


It can be arranged as follows:

Praise to God: God’s saving acts inspire praise from his people (1b-3).


A. Those who realize God’s intervention in their lives spontaneously praise him (1).

         The form of this expression, ‘I will sing’ reveals the resolution of Moses to sing the song of praise—‘I will’ being stronger than ‘I shall’. ‘For he is highly exalted’ gives the reason for and summary of the praise— he is highly exalted” or “he has done majestically” or “he is gloriously glorious.”

The word “to ride” can mean on a horse or in a chariot. Some have suggested changing “rider” to “chariot” to read “the horse and its chariot” since many believe Egyptians did not ride horses.


B. They praise the nature of God and vow loyalty to him (2-3)


         This section is the conclusion he draws from the intervention. He has triumphed in strength v 2 and as a man of war v 3 are the point. The expression “man of war” indicates that God is one who understands how to fight and defeat the enemy. The word “war” modifies “man” to reveal that God is a warrior. If we are going to understand God, we must understand His willingness—at certain times for certain reasons in certain places—to declare war. Going to war is crucial for the spiritual life and there are at least five rules consistent with the what God declared and fought wars, especially this one with Pharaoh:

1. It must be God’s war. That is, it must be against sin in our lives.

2. It must be fought with enough courage to totally destroy the enemy. The enemy is always sin not some person—Eph 6:12.

3. It must be won without making any deals or treaties. That is, not allowing some sin to remain in our lives.

4. It must be fought with valiant warriors. Close godly friends can help us with victory over the sin.

5. It must come to an end. A person who is always at war is a warmonger. A person who never goes to war is a compromiser with sis.   


We may summarize this praise as follows: God is triumphant because of his great power, prompting praise and dedication in those who are delivered.


Cause for praise: God’s powerful acts deliver his people from the forces of evil in the world (4-13).


A. The Lord displays the greatness of his power when he destroys the forces of evil (4-10).

         This verb is to “overthrow” or “throw down”--like a wall, leaving it in shattered pieces v 7.

Here, in some irony, God released His wrath on them v 7.

This is a bold anthropomorphic expression for the wind that came in and dried up the waters v 8.

The word “heap” describes the walls of the water in the Sea. The waters, which are naturally fluid, stood up as though they were a heap; a mound of earth.

         Likewise, the flowing waters deep in the ocean congealed--as though they were turned to ice v 8.

Here almost is the heavy, breathless heaving of the Egyptians as, with what reserve of strength they have left, they vow, “I will . . . , I will . . . , I will . . . ”.

         Here, with the verb “to be full” means “to be satisfied”; the whole expression might indicate “I will gorge myself.” The greedy appetite was to destroy v 9. Here the idea is to unsheathe a sword.

The verb may have the idea of sinking with a gurgling sound, like water going into a whirlpool v 10.


B. The Lord displays his incomparable holiness and mercy when he delivers his people (11-13).

         The question is of course rhetorical; it is a way of affirming that no one is comparable to God v 11.

Verses 11-17 will now focus on Yahweh as the incomparable One who was able to save Israel from her foes, and afterwards lead them to the promised land.

The subject, the “earth,” must be inclusive of the sea, or it may indicate the grave or Sheol; the sea drowned them v 12.

         Notice the attributes of God displayed in the historical event (glorious power, great, triumphant, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders, mercy, strength), as well as the acts of this event (dashing and destroying the wicked, redeeming and leading forth the people). This is true of this one event here but is not true of just referencing a military one, for these attributes and acts are displayed in various interventions in the Bible, including the final victory in the end.


Conclusion: God’s demonstrations of his sovereignty inspire confidence in him by his people (14-18).


A. The people of God anticipate how the world will acknowledge his power (14-17).

         Here is a prophetic meaning that all these countries were yet to hear of the victory v 14. The word properly refers to “pangs” of childbirth, or of a woman in travail. When the nations hear about this, they will be terrified.


B. The people of God anticipate his sovereign reign (18).

         Specific examples of the triumphant power of God in delivering his people from their enemies

are reiterated again and again as God intervened to deliver his people from their enemies. In Hebrews 11

it was deliverance from Egypt; then Jericho; then by Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel; then by persecution, chains and prison. The purpose is to develop faith in the LORD for help in times of danger and crisis. In the New Testament our spiritual foes are demonic and God promises protection and deliverance. All of these lead up to the events anticipated in Revelation, the final deliverance and judgment and the Song of the Redeemed in heaven.



1. But since this is a song of praise, the direction of the message must be on praising God for his great deliverances, not just a study of the nature of God. The action that you want to inspire is musical praise. 2. Gods redeemed people respond in praise to his great redemption spontaneously whether it is our salvation, any deliverance, or the final victory.

3. The principle here, and elsewhere-in Scripture, is that the people of God naturally respond to God in praise for His great acts of deliverance. Few will match the powerful acts that were exhibited in Egypt, but these nonetheless set the tone.

4. The song is certainly typological of the song of the saints in heaven who praise God for delivering them from the bondage of this world by judging the world. The focus of the praise, though, still is on the person (attributes) and works of God.

5. So any great deliverance whether this incident or any instance portray God’s attributes. They never change. They must come to the fore in praise.