Today’s readings.. (Exodus 15), (Psalm 69), (Mark 3)
The occasion when we particularly sing with spiritual joy in our hearts is when a new brother or sister emerges from the waters of baptism. Consider then the song “Moses and the people of Israel sang … to the LORD” [Exod.15]. It is a song about what had just happened, the deliverance of a nation, in reality the birth of a new nation – God’s nation; Paul called it a baptism, see 1 Cor. 10 v.1,2.
The song starts, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” [v.1-2]
What we may overlook is that no one, except a select few, had the ability and opportunity to write at this stage of history. Nearly all those who escaped from Egypt needed to have songs that they could learn off by heart since there was nothing available for the masses of the people to read – even if they could read. Today – it is the opposite – there is too much – and so much of it is ‘junk food’ for the mind.
So today’s chapter gives us the ‘hit song’ of that generation! Imagine the scene painted for us in v. 20-21. “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
As we read the detail of the song, consider what they sang about! “Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power … shatters the enemy… You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength” [v.6,13] It was a joy, a spirit of positiveness, comparable to the 3,000 that were baptised on the day of Pentecost” (Acts 2 v.41)
We will read in coming weeks of their failure to maintain their faith in God that they were then praising so joyously. Were the things they were singing about really coming from their hearts? Did their meaning fail to create an inner conviction of faith? Were they only focused on the present.
There is a modern saying that ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’! The wilderness was going to provide an awesome challenge: we shall read how the 2 faithful spies, and also most of the Levites proved equal to the challenge, but the majority did not.. A lesson for today?
Our world is more than ever a spiritual wilderness, many politicians are proud of passing ungodly laws. Paul warned the Romans that those who practiced such things as homosexuality (1 v.26,27) were “storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed …” [2 v.5] Let us “sing to the LORD” from our hearts fully meaning what we sing, longing for the day when “The LORD will reign forever and ever”. Which is how Moses ended his song (v.18).