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Bible Commentaries

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Exodus 15

 

 

Verse 2

Exodus

‘MY STRENGTH AND SONG’

Exodus 15:2.

These words occur three times in the Bible: here, in Isaiah 12:2, and in Psalms 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 [Psalms 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.


Verse 13

Exodus

THE SHEPHERD AND THE FOLD

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, Psalms 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.

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 [Philippians 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 Psalms 95:1 - Psalms 95:11.


Verse 17

Exodus

THE ULTIMATE HOPE

Exodus 15:17.

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

The inexhaustibleness of the divine resources.

The steadfastness of the divine purposes.

The long-suffering of the divine patience.

II. The form which that ultimate future assumes.

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


Verses 23-25

Exodus

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.’

 


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Bibliography Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Exodus 15:4". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/exodus-15.html.

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