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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 27, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Exodus 15:1–21           

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my might,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea;
    his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
    they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power—
    your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries;
    you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,
    the floods stood up in a heap;
    the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
    I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
    I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’
You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;
    they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in splendor, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand,
    the earth swallowed them.

“In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;
    you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
The peoples heard, they trembled;
    pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
    trembling seized the leaders of Moab;
    all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.
Terror and dread fell upon them;
    by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone
until your people, O Lord, passed by,
    until the people whom you acquired passed by.
You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession,
    the place, O Lord, that you made your abode,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” (NRSV)

Known by many as the “Song of the Sea,” this song from Moses, Miriam, and the people is among the oldest passages in the Hebrew Bible—written in an archaized Hebrew, which may reflect an older oral tradition. Based on the content, it won’t surprise you to learn this passage comes on the heels of the Israelites’ escape through the Red Sea in Exodus 14—and, after their suffering at the hands of the Egyptians, you can hear the simultaneous mix of astonishment and delight in the words of Moses and Miriam as they recount how Pharaoh’s forces were utterly demolished. That they would feel that way is unsurprising and perhaps even sympathetic; the question for us is what we do with these words today.

We can remember the Israelites’ joy at the Egyptians’ destruction without celebrating it ourselves—after all, God-sanctioned, and even God-glorified, violence has been a profound problem in our world. The Israelites were facing an existential threat and God quite literally delivered them through it—as Moses says, God “became my salvation.” Instead, what we can take away—particularly in this Eastertide season in which we understand God’s salvation in a new way—is the spirit of gratitude and joy that rings through Moses’ and Miriam’s words, intermingled with wonder and awe. May our hallelujahs be as heartfelt as theirs this Eastertide, offering our deepest praise to the God who is indeed our salvation.

Holy God, you whose love and grace exceeds the limits of my imagination, I cannot help but be awed by the love you have shown me in Christ, for you have become my salvation, and to you I give thanks and praise. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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