Bible Readings for March 4th
The song of Moses in Exodus 15 provides one of the richest overall descriptions of who Yahweh is for his people that we find in the entire Bible—and as such, Exodus 15 is an instructive chapter on what our own worship should sound like.
To begin, Moses sings that Yahweh is the strength, song, and salvation of his people (Ex. 15:2a)—and in fact, not only is Yahweh the God of his people today but he was also our father’s God (Ex. 15:2b). Therefore, Moses pledges to praise and exalt this covenant-keeping God. Verse 2, however, is the last time that Moses talks about what he will do to praise Yahweh. From verse 3 and on, the focus is entirely on what Yahweh has done.
So, as Moses recounts the works of Yahweh to cast Pharaoh and his chariots into the sea, he celebrates the victory of God over the oppressive kingdoms of this world by singing that Yahweh is a man of war (Ex. 15:3–10). It is not that Yahweh commits senseless violence. Rather, Yahweh has acted because he is the redeemer of his people, leading and guiding them out of his steadfast love and perfect strength (Ex. 15:13). All the nations of the earth have heard of the works of Yahweh, and they tremble with terror and dread (Ex. 15:14–15).
Therefore, Yahweh is a king over the people whom he has purchased (Ex. 15:16), so that “The LORD will reign forever and ever” (Ex. 15:18). As king, Yahweh will establish his people on the mountain of his choosing, where he will place his sanctuary (Ex. 15:17) to dwell in the midst of his people in his “holy abode” (Ex. 15:13).
What would it be like if the songs we sang today reflected this kind of rich, vivid imagery to depict the strength and glory of our mighty God? What might happen if we emphasized less the fact that we were pledging our worship to God and emphasized more the works God has done that are so completely worthy of our worship? There isn’t anything wrong with pledging our praise to God, but in modern evangelicalism, our songs sometimes place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the worshiper and not on the one being worshiped.
When we gather to praise Yahweh, we gather to praise him in the totality of who he is, what he has done, and how he has redeemed and rescued his people. Our music should teach us and remind us not primarily of what we will do for God but rather of what God has done for us through creating the world and redeeming it back again through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously!” (Ex. 15:21).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.