The Lord is my strength and song - How judiciously are the members of this sentence arranged! 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. Miserably and untunably, in the ears of God, does that man sing praises, who is not saved by the grace of Christ, nor strengthened by the power of his might.
It is worthy of observation that the word which we translate Lord here, is not יהוה JEHOVAH in the original, but יה Jah ; "as if by abbreviation," says Mr. Parkhurst, "for יהיה yeheieh or יהי yehi . It signifies the Essence Ὁ ΩΝ, He who Is, simply, absolutely, and independently. The relation between יה Jah and the verb היה to subsist, exist, be, is intimated to us the first time יה Jah is used in Scripture, ( Exodus 15:2;): 'My strength and my song is יה Jah, and he is become (ויהי vajehi ) to me salvation.'" See Psalm 68:5; Psalm 89:6; Psalm 94:7; Psalm 115:17, Psalm 115:18; Psalm 118:17.
Jah יה is several times joined with the name Jehovah יהוה so that we may be sure that it is not, as some have supposed, a mere abbreviation of that word. See Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4. Our blessed Lord solemnly claims to himself what is intended in this Divine name יה Jah, John 8:58; : "Before Abraham was, (γενεσθαι, was born), εγω ειμι, I Am," not I was, but I am, plainly intimating his Divine eternal existence. Compare Isaiah 43:13. And the Jews appear to have well understood him, for then took they up stones to cast at him as a blasphemer. Compare Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:17, where the Apostle Paul, after asserting that all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, were created, εκτισται, by and for Christ, adds And He Is (αυτος εστι, not ην, was) before all things, and by him all things συνεστηκε, have subsisted, and still subsist. See Parkhurst.
From this Divine name יה Jah the ancient Greeks had their Ιη, Ιη, in their invocations of the gods, particularly of Apollo (the uncompounded One) the light; and hence ei, written after the oriental manner from right to left, afterwards ie, was inscribed over the great door of the temple at Delphi! See Clarke's note on Exodus 3:14, and the concluding observations there.
I will prepare him a habitation - ואנוהו veanvehu . It has been supposed that Moses, by this expression, intended the building of the tabernacle; but it seems to come in very strangely in this place. Most of the ancient versions understood the original in a very different sense. The Vulgate has et glorificabo eum; the Septuagint δοξασω αυτον, I will Glorify him; with which the Syriac, Coptic, the Targum of Jonathan, and the Jerusalem Targum, agree. From the Targum of Onkelos the present translation seems to have been originally derived; he has translated the place מקדש לה ואבני veebnei leh makdash, "And I will build him a sanctuary," which not one of the other versions, the Persian excepted, acknowledges. Our own old translations are generally different from the present: Coverdale, "This my God, I will magnify him;" Matthew's, Cranmer's, and the Bishops' Bible, render it glorify, and the sense of the place seems to require it. Calmet, Houbigant, Kennicott, and other critics, contend for this translation.
My father's God - I believe Houbigant to be right, who translates the original, אבי אלהי Elohey abi, Deus meus, pater meus est, "My God is my Father." Every man may call the Divine Being his God; but only those who are his children by adoption through grace can call him their Father. This is a privilege which God has given to none but his children. See Galatians 4:6.
With the deliverance of Israel is associated the development of the national poetry, which finds its first and perfect expression in this magnificent hymn. It was sung by Moses and the people, an expression which evidently points to him as the author. That it was written at the time is an assertion expressly made in the text, and it is supported by the strongest internal evidence. In every age this song gave the tone to the poetry of Israel; especially at great critical epochs of deliverance: and in the book of Revelation Exodus 15:3 it is associated with the final triumph of the Church.
The division of the song into three parts is distinctly marked: Exodus 15:1-5; Exodus 15:6-10; Exodus 15:11-18: each begins with an ascription of praise to God; each increases in length and varied imagery unto the triumphant close.
He hath triumphed gloriously - Literally, He is gloriously glorious.
The horse and his rider - The word “rider” may include horseman, but applies properly to the charioteer.
The Lord is my strength and song - My strength and song is Jah. See Psalm 68:4. The name was chosen here by Moses to draw attention to the promise ratified by the name “I am.”
I will prepare Him an habitation - I will glorify Him. Our Authorized Version is open to serious objection, as suggesting a thought (namely, of erecting a temple) which could hardly have been in the mind of Moses at that time, and unsuited to the occasion.
A man of war - Compare Psalm 24:8. The name has on this occasion a special fitness: man had no part in the victory; the battle was the Lord‘s.
The Lord is his name - “Jah is His name.” See Exodus 15:2.
Hath He cast - “Hurled,” as from a sling. See Exodus 14:27.
His chosen captains - See Exodus 14:7 note.
As a stone - The warriors in chariots are always represented on the monuments with heavy coats of mail; the corslets of “chosen captains” consisted of plates of highly tempered bronze, with sleeves reaching nearly to the elbow, covering the whole body and the thighs nearly to the knee. The wearers must have sunk at once like a stone, or as we read in Exodus 5:10, like lumps of lead.
Thy wrath - Literally, Thy burning, i. e. the fire of Thy wrath, a word chosen expressly with reference to the effect.
The blast of God‘s nostrils corresponds to the natural agency, the east wind Exodus 14:21, which drove the waters back: on the north the waters rose high, overhanging the sands, but kept back by the strongwind: on the south they laid in massive rollers, kept down by the same agency in the deep bed of the Red Sea.
The enemy said - The abrupt, gasping utterances; the haste, cupidity and ferocity of the Egyptians; the confusion and disorder of their thoughts, belong to the highest order of poetry. They enable us to realize the feelings which induced Pharaoh and his host to pursue the Israelites over the treacherous sandbanks.
Thou didst blow with thy wind - Notice the solemn majesty of these few words, in immediate contrast with the tumult and confusion of the preceding verse. In Exodus 14:28, we read only, “the waters returned,” here we are told that it was because the wind blew. A sudden change in the direction of the wind would bring back at once the masses of water heaped up on the north.
They sank as lead - See the note at Exodus 15:5.
Among the gods - Compare Psalm 86:8; Deuteronomy 32:16-17. A Hebrew just leaving the land in which polytheism attained its highest development, with gigantic statues and temples of incomparable grandeur, might well on such an occasion dwell upon this consummation of the long series of triumphs by which the “greatness beyond compare” of Yahweh was once for all established.
Thy holy habitation - Either Palestine, regarded as the land of promise, sanctified by manifestations of God to the Patriarchs, and destined to be both the home of God‘s people, and the place where His glory and purposes were to be perfectly revealed: or Mount Moriah.
The inhabitants of Palestina - i. e. the country of the Philistines. They were the first who would expect an invasion, and the first whose district would have been invaded but for the faintheartedness of the Israelites.
The dukes of Edom - See Genesis 36:15. It denotes the chieftains, not the kings of Edom.
Canaan - The name in this, as in many passages of Genesis, designates the whole of Palestine: and is used of course with reference to the promise to Abraham. It was known to the Egyptians, and occurs frequently on the monuments as Pa-kanana, which applies, if not to the whole of Palestine, yet to the northern district under Lebanon, which the Phoenicians occupied and called “Canaan.”
In the mountain of thine inheritance - See Exodus 15:13.
No sooner does the child of God approach the mercy seat than he becomes the client of the great Advocate. At his first utterance of penitence and appeal for pardon Christ espouses his case and makes it His own, presenting the supplication before the Father as His own request. 6T 364.1
As Christ intercedes in our behalf, the Father lays open all the treasures of His grace for our appropriation, to be enjoyed and to be communicated to others. “Ask in My name,” Christ says; “I do not say that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me. Make use of My name. This will give your prayers efficiency, and the Father will give you the riches of His grace; wherefore, ‘ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”’ John 16:24. 6T 364.2
God desires His obedient children to claim His blessing and to come before Him with praise and thanksgiving. God is the Fountain of life and power. He can make the wilderness a fruitful field for the people that keep His commandments, for this is for the glory of His name. He has done for His chosen people that which should inspire every heart with thanksgiving, and it grieves Him that so little praise is offered. He desires to have a stronger expression from His people, showing that they know they have reason for joy and gladness. 6T 364.3
The dealings of God with His people should be often repeated. How frequently were the waymarks set up by the Lord in His dealings with ancient Israel! Lest they should forget the history of the past, He commanded Moses to frame these events into song, that parents might teach them to their children. They were to gather up memorials and to lay them up in sight. Special pains were taken to preserve them, that when the children should inquire concerning these things, the whole story might be repeated. Thus the providential dealings and the marked goodness and mercy of God in His care and deliverance of His people were kept in mind. We are exhorted to call to “remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Hebrews 10:32. For His people in this generation the Lord has wrought as a wonder-working God. The past history of the cause of God needs to be often brought before the people, young and old. We need often to recount God's goodness and to praise Him for His wonderful works. 6T 364.4Read in context »
As the Hebrews witnessed the marvelous work of God in the destruction of the Egyptians, they united in an inspired song of lofty eloquence, and grateful praise. Miriam, the sister of Moses, a prophetess, led the women in music. 3SG 236.1
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation; he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 3SG 236.2
“The Lord is a man of war. The Lord is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them. They sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power. Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee. Thou sentest forth thy wrath which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil. My lust shall be satisfied upon them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them. They sank as lead in the mighty waters. 3SG 236.3Read in context »
At last the mysterious cloud changes to a pillar of fire before their astonished eyes. The thunders roll and the lightnings flash, the waves roll about them, and fear takes possession of their hearts. Amid the terror and confusion, the lurid light reveals to the amazed Egyptians the terrible waters massed up on the right hand and on the left. They see the broad path that the Lord has made for His people across the shining sands of the sea, and behold triumphant Israel safe on the farther shore. 4T 25.1
Confusion and dismay seize them. Amid the wrath of the elements, in which they hear the voice of an angry God, they endeavor to retrace their steps and fly to the shore they have quitted. But Moses stretches out his rod, and the piled-up waters, hissing, roaring, and eager for their prey, tumble down upon the armies of Egypt. Proud Pharaoh and his legions, gilded chariots and flashing armor, horses and riders, are engulfed beneath a stormy sea. The mighty God of Israel has delivered His people, and their songs of thanksgiving go up to heaven that God has wrought so wonderfully in their behalf. 4T 25.2
The history of the children of Israel is written for the instruction and admonition of all Christians. When the Israelites were overtaken by dangers and difficulties, and their way seemed hedged up, their faith forsook them, and they murmured against the leader whom God had appointed for them. They blamed him for bringing them into peril, when he had only obeyed the voice of God. 4T 25.3
The divine command was: “Go forward.” They were not to wait until the way was made plain, and they could comprehend the entire plan of their deliverance. God's cause is onward, and He will open a path before His people. To hesitate and murmur is to manifest distrust in the Holy One of Israel. God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses, with the Red Sea before them, that He might work out their deliverance and forever rid them of their enemies. He might have saved them in any other way, but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. 4T 25.4Read in context »