Song of Moses
The first song in the Bible is the Song of Moses, found in Exodus 15. We know the story: Israel has been living as slaves for 400 years when God sends a deliverer; through a series of incredible miracles and plagues, culminating with the death of the Passover lamb, the Egyptian king (Pharaoh) relents and let’s God’s people go.
The Israelites leave Egypt and slavery with “high hand” the Bible says. They were celebrating the victory of God, and for a brief moment, everything looked good. Before too long they’d marched to something of a dead end though, Migdol on one side, Pi-hahiroth on the other, and the Red Sea straight ahead. And on the horizon behind them they could see dust clouds rising from oncoming chariots and the hard hearted Egyptian king and his army.
The people complain and prepare to kill their leader, Moses, but Moses stretches out his hand. Psalm 114 describes the scene and says “The sea looked and fled.” Psalm 77 says “The waters saw you O God, and were in anguish.” What an awesome image: the waters running off in fear, dividing to the left and right, to let the King of Glory pass.
In Exodus 14 we see Israel walk through the divided sea, from death into life. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 10, saying this is a picture of baptism. Just like Israel, we too are saved from our oppressor and captivity by the death of the Passover Lamb–Jesus the Christ–and, like them, we part the waters in baptism as a sign of moving out of death, and into life. Out of bondage into freedom.
Exodus 15 then is Moses’ worshipful response to that experience. They sing this glorious song; look at some of these lyrics:
V1 I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
V2 The Lord is my strength and song, He has become my salvation; This is my God, I will praise Him.
V3 The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His Name.
V6 Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power
V11 Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?
V13 In your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
in your strength You have guided them to your holy habitation.
And then Moses wraps up his song with a summary statement. After everything Moses has seen and experienced, see his final lyric. Note that it’s just as true for us today as it was for Moses thousands of years ago:
V18 The Lord shall reign forever and ever.
For a few years now I’ve been considering writing songs about God being a warrior. I know myriad songs about Him being our Father, our Savior, our King. I’ve sung countless songs about his love, his mercy, and his grace, but I can hardly think of one song I know of that addresses God being a warrior.
Chris Moerman is a good friend, great worship leader, and gifted songwriter. We’ve written lots of songs together over the past couple years, and he came to my house with some ideas for a song from Exodus 15, the Song of Moses. I loved it! I was so excited, and over the next few months the song came together through Chris, myself, Ben Smith, and Pat Barrett. The four of us lead worship together in our church community, and we’ve had the best time writing and collaborating on songs together. We wrapped it up and sent it over to Graham Kendrick, who graciously (and masterfully) tweaked a few of our lyrics, and we all resolved to send every one of our songs to Graham from this time forward!
We’ve all been leading the song all over the place, and it’s been resonating with a lot of people. It certainly resonates with my own heart. I’ve been calling on God as a Mighty Warrior a lot lately. I’ve been praying some of the more imprecatory psalms, like Psalm 85 (v15), Pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Or Psalm 35, Or Psalm 78 (v65), The Lord awoke as if from sleep, like a warrior refreshed with wine, and drove his enemies back. For the sake of my family, our church, the guys we disciple, I’ve been asking God to go to battle, drive my enemies back, and shield us with his strength. And I believe that He is!
I hope that anybody reading this will rise in confident boldness, calling on God as the Mighty Warrior that He is. May you find shelter behind his shield, strength beneath his sword, and victory in every battle.
The Song of Moses is the first song in the Bible. Remarkably, it’s also one of the last. In Revelation 15 we read about a worship set in Heaven; it says they sing two songs: The Song of the Lamb, and the Song of Moses.
Get this: Heaven is still singing the Song of Moses. Apparently, God really loves this song. Not only that, think about this: the worship of heaven is impacted by the worship of earth. The lofty angels in heaven are singing songs written by lowly man on earth.
What could that mean for our songwriting?