Reader: “Your right hand, O Lord, ”
Response: “ is glorious in power. ”
Scripture: Exodus 15: 1-18
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters gushed over them; they sank to the bottom like a stone.
“Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power.
Your right hand, O Lord, smashes the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you.
You unleash your blazing fury; it consumes them like straw.
At the blast of your breath, the waters piled up!
The surging waters stood straight like a wall; in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.
“The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them and catch up with them.
I will plunder them and consume them. I will flash my sword; my powerful hand will destroy them.’
But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord— glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?
You raised your right hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies.
“With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them to your sacred home.
The peoples hear and tremble; anguish grips those who live in Philistia.
The leaders of Edom are terrified; the nobles of Moab tremble.
All who live in Canaan melt away; terror and dread fall upon them.
The power of your arm makes them lifeless as stone until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people you purchased pass by.
You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain—the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever!”
Reader: “The word of the Lord as composed by Moses.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
This particular passage is known as the Song of Moses, the first recorded song in Scripture. It is typical of latter biblical songs in that it recalls the actions of God on behalf of his people, underscoring in their minds God’s enduring care, protection and love for his Chosen Band. It is a kind of First Testament resurrection story. God led his people from certain death to life! As we mentioned during a Lenten devotional, in the words of Dennis Prager, “Memory permeates faith. No memory, no faith.” One of the purposes of songs is to permeate faith. We are a people with short historical memories. Notice the first eight lines are very personal with the recurrence of first-person pronouns. One of the great truths of our God is that he is very, very personal. Note also the unity expressed as both Moses and the people of Israel sing this song. The victory of God over the Egyptians was very descriptive, “they sank to the bottom like a stone.”
In the fifteen lines of the middle section of the song, the text moves to addressing God in the second person. “Your right hand,” (usually the hand the warrior used with his sword,) is praised for vanquishing the enemy. Again, this is quite dramatic in its description of God’s power. For us, reading this song is reading an historical event. We forget the people singing this actually saw the sea split, walked through it, and then saw God collapse the walls of water wiping out the entire Egyptian army, the most powerful army in the world. The singers watched as the waves deposited the soldier’s lifeless bodies on the beach. God had given them an astounding victory.
The final stanza looks to the future, not only for the Children of Israel, but for us as well. While the words foretell the Israelites coming journey to the Promised Land, the last lines point to a day still in the future. We are yet to be planted on the holy mountain, the place reserved for the Lord’s dwelling and the place of God’s everlasting reign. In the crossing of the Red Sea, the Israelites were buried in the waters of baptism and resurrected to new life by the power of God, bringing their certain death to life. They were in the same place as we are. In the resurrection of Jesus, we’ve been brought from death to life as we await our own “crossing of the Jordan” to the Promised Land. Rejoice this day in the eternal life you’ve been given!
Music: “Guide Me O, Thou Great Jehovah” Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church
My risen Lord, I feel thy strong protection; I see thee stand among the graves today. I hear thee say, “I am the Way, the Life, the Resurrection.” And all the burdens I have sadly carried grow light as blossoms on this April day; my cross becomes a staff. I journey gladly these resurrection days, having come through the Sea, I continue on to my final home across the Jordan to the Promised Land.
―Author Unknown, adapted Daniel Sharp