Exodus 15
MacLaren Expositions Of Holy Scripture
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.


Exodus 15:2

These words occur three times in the Bible: here, in Isaiah 12:2, and in Psalm 18:14.

I. The lessons from the various instances of their occurrence. The first and second teach that the Mosaic deliverance is a picture-prophecy of the redemption in Christ. The third {Psalm 18:14}, long after, and the utterance of some private person, teaches that each age and each soul has the same mighty Hand working for it. ‘As we have heard, so have we seen.’

II. The lessons from the words themselves.

{a} True faith appropriates God’s universal mercy as a personal possession. ‘My Lord and my God!’ ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me.’

{b} Each single act of mercy should reveal God more clearly as ‘My strength.’ The ‘and’ in the second clause is substantially equivalent to ‘for.’ It assigns the reason for the assurance expressed in the first. Because of the experienced deliverance and God’s manifestation of Himself in it as the author of ‘salvation,’ my faith wins happy increase of confidence that He ‘is the strength of my heart.’ Blessed they who bring that treasure out of all the sorrows of life!

{c} The end of His deliverances is ‘praise.’ ‘He is my song.’ This is true for earth and for heaven. The ‘Song of Moses and the Lamb.’

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.


Exodus 15:13

What a grand triumphal ode! The picture of Moses and the children of Israel singing, and Miriam and the women answering: a gush of national pride and of worship! We belong to a better time, but still we can feel its grandeur. The deliverance has made the singer look forward to the end, and his confidence in the issue is confirmed.

I. The guiding God: or the picture of the leading. The original is ‘lead gently.’ Cf. Isaiah 40:11, Psalm 23:2. The emblem of a flock underlies the word. There is not only guidance, but gentle guidance. The guidance was gentle, though accompanied with so tremendous and heart-curdling a judgment. The drowned Egyptians were strange examples of gentle leading. But God’s redemptive acts are like the guiding pillar of fire, in that they have a side that reveals wrath and evokes terror, and a side that radiates lambent love and kindles happy trust.

‘In Thy strength.’ Cf. Isaiah 40:10, ‘with strong hand.’ ‘He shall gently lead.’ Note the combination with gentleness. That divine strength is the only power which is able to guide. We are so weak that it takes all His might to hold us up. It is His strength, not ours. ‘My strength is made perfect in {thy} weakness.’

‘To the resting-place of Thy holiness.’ The word is used for pasture, or resting-places for cattle. Here it meant Canaan; for us it means Heaven-’the green pastures’ of real participation in His holiness.

II. The triumphant confidence as to the future based upon the deliverance of the past.Hast,’ a past tense. It is as good as done. The believing use of God’s great past, and initial mercy, to make us sure of His future.

{a} In that He will certainly accomplish it.

{b} In that even now there is a foretaste-rest in toil. He guides to the ‘waters of resting.’ A rest now {Hebrews 4:3}; a rest ‘that remaineth’ {Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 4:9}.

III. The warning against confidence in self. These people who sang thus perished in the wilderness! They let go hold of God’s hand, so they ‘sank like lead.’ So He will fulfil begun work {Php 1:6}. Let us cleave to Him. In Hebrews 3:1 - Hebrews 3:19 and Hebrews 4:1 - Hebrews 4:16 lessons are drawn from the Israelites not ‘entering in.’ See also Psalm 95:1 - Psalm 95:11.

Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.


Exodus 15:17

I. The lesson taught by each present deliverance and kindness is that we shall be brought to His rest at last.

{a} Daily mercies are a pledge and a pattern of His continuous acts. The confidence that we shall be kept is based upon no hard doctrine of final perseverance, but on the assurance that God is always the same, like the sunshine which has poured out for all these millenniums and still rushes on with the same force. Consider-

The inexhaustibleness of the divine resources.

The steadfastness of the divine purposes.

The long-suffering of the divine patience.

{b} Thus daily mercies should lead on our thoughts to heavenly things. They should not prison us in their own sweetness. We should see the great Future shining through them as a transparent, not an opaque medium.

{c} That ultimate future should be the great object of our hope. Surely it is chiefly in order that we may have the light of that great to-morrow brightening and magnifying our dusty to-days, that we are endowed with the faculty of looking forward and ‘calling things that are not as though they were.’ So we should engage and enlarge our minds with it.

II. The form which that ultimate future assumes.

The Israelites thought of Canaan, and in particular of ‘Zion,’ its centre-point.

{a} Perpetual rest. ‘Bring in and plant’-a contrast to the desert nomad life.

{b} Perpetual safety. ‘The sanctuary which Thy hands have established,’ i.e. made firm.

{c} Perpetual dwelling in God. ‘Thy dwelling,’ ‘Thy mountain,’ ‘Thy holy habitation’ {Exodus 15:13}, rather than ‘our land.’ For Israel their communion with Jehovah was perfected on Zion by the Temple and the sacrifices, including the revelation of {priestly} national service.

{d} Perpetual purity. ‘Thy sanctuary.’ ‘Without’ holiness ‘no man shall see the Lord.’

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.


Exodus 15:23 - - Exodus 15:25

I. The time of reaching Marah-just after the Red Sea. The Israelites were encamped for a few days on the shore to shake themselves together, and then at this, their very first station, they began to experience the privations which were to be their lot for forty years. Their course was like that of a ship that is in the stormy Channel as soon as it leaves the shelter of the pier at Dover, not like that of one that glides down the Thames for miles.

After great moments and high triumphs in life comes Marah.

Marah was just before Elim-the alternation, how blessed! The shade of palms and cool water of the wells, one for each tribe and one for each ‘elder.’ So we have alternations in life and experience.

II. The wrong and the right ways of taking the bitter experience. The people grumbled: Moses cried to the Lord. The quick forgetfulness of deliverances. The true use of speech is not complaint, but prayer.

III. The power that changes bitter to sweet. The manner of the miracle is singular. God hides Himself behind Moses, and His miraculous power behind the material agent. Perhaps the manner of the miracle was intended to suggest a parallel with the first plague. There the rod made the Nile water undrinkable. There is a characteristic economy in the miraculous, and outward things are used, as Christ used the pool and the saliva and the touch, to help the weak faith of the deaf and dumb man.

What changes bitter to sweet for us?-the Cross, the remembrance of Christ’s death. ‘Consider Him that endured.’ The Cross is the true tree which, when ‘cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.’

Recognition of and yielding to God’s will: that is the one thing which for us changes all. The one secret of peace and of getting sweetness out of bitterness is loving acceptance of the will of God.

Discernment of purpose in God’s ‘bitter’ dealings-’for our profit.’ The dry rod ‘budded.’ The Prophet’s roll was first bitter, then sweet. Affliction ‘afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruit.’

Expositions Of Holy Scripture, Alexander MacLaren

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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