The Lord is a man of war - Perhaps it would be better to translate the words, Jehovah is the man or hero of the battle. As we scarcely ever apply the term to any thing but first-rate armed vessels, the change of the translation seems indispensable, though the common rendering is literal enough. Besides, the object of Moses was to show that man had no part in this victory, but that the whole was wrought by the miraculous power of God, and that therefore he alone should have all the glory.
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 »
13 (2 Timothy 4:7, 8). God Honors the Faithful Aged—There are living upon our earth men who have passed the age of fourscore and ten. The natural results of old age are seen in their feebleness. But they believe God, and God loves them. The seal of God is upon them, and they will be among the number of whom the Lord has said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” With Paul they can say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished by course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also which love his appearing.” There are many whose grey hairs God honors because they have fought a good fight and kept the faith (Letter 207, 1899). 7BC 982.1Read in context »
In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt a knowledge of the power of God spread far and wide. The warlike people of the stronghold of Jericho trembled. “As soon as we had heard these things,” said Rahab, “our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for Jehovah your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Joshua 2:11. Centuries after the exodus the priests of the Philistines reminded their people of the plagues of Egypt, and warned them against resisting the God of Israel. PP 369.1
God called Israel, and blessed and exalted them, not that by obedience to His law they alone might receive His favor and become the exclusive recipients of His blessings, but in order to reveal Himself through them to all the inhabitants of the earth. It was for the accomplishment of this very purpose that He commanded them to keep themselves distinct from the idolatrous nations around them. PP 369.2
Idolatry and all the sins that followed in its train were abhorrent to God, and He commanded His people not to mingle with other nations, to “do after their works“, and forget God. He forbade their marriage with idolaters, lest their hearts should be led away from Him. It was just as necessary then as it is now that God's people should be pure, “unspotted from the world.” They must keep themselves free from its spirit, because it is opposed to truth and righteousness. But God did not intend that His people, in self-righteous exclusiveness, should shut themselves away from the world, so that they could have no influence upon it. PP 369.3
Like their Master, the followers of Christ in every age were to be the light of the world. The Saviour said, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house”—that is, in the world. And He adds, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. This is just what Enoch, and Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses did. It is just what God designed that His people Israel should do. PP 369.4Read in context »