The song of Moses for the deliverance of Israel. (Verse 1-21.)
The bitter waters at Marah, The Israelites come to Elim. (Verse 22-27.)
1 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.
2 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.
Moses led by the holy Spirit utters the words, “I will prepare him and habitation;” which was a prophetical utterance concerning God coming to tabernacle with his people.
First it will be his Shekinah glory that he will have a tabernacle made for him that is a pattern of what God has in the third heaven.
Then he shall come through David’s line and be born in Bethlehem and live in the land for thirty-three years before being rejected and exiled in a far country (heaven) until his enemies be made his footstool. Psalm 110:1
In Israel’s kingdom God will again dwell with man but not as he did 2,000 years ago as the Lamb of God, but this time he will come back as the lion of the tribe of Judah. Things will be different.
3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
Thy right hand is mentioned twice here by Moses in one verse and again in verse 12, and it is the first time that phrase is used concerning God’s right hand.
Over and over again “thy right hand” is mentioned not as God the father’s physical right hand because God the Father is a Spirit, but each time “thy right hand” is mentioned it is personified, that is, attributes are given to God’s right hand that are reserved for a person.
Jesus Christ is God’s right hand. In Acts 7:55 Stephen as he is about to be stoned tells his hearers that he sees the Son of man (Jesus) standing on the right hand of God.
7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble
8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered toger, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
[Gen 8:1, Exod 14:21, Psa 104:7]
Moses said that God did blow with thy wind, which is synonymous with God’s Holy Spirit working in harmony with God’s right hand, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Triune God in action.
11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
Again Moses, led by the holy Spirit mentions for the third time God’s right hand in delivering Israel from her persecutors, and bringing them (Israel) into thy (God’s) habitation.
14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
[Gen 35:5, Exod 23:27, Deut 11:25, Josh 2:9, Josh 5:1, 1st Sam 14:15, 2nd Chron 14:14]
Instead of Moses saying thy right hand a fourth time he attributes the fear of God falling on Israel’s enemies by the greatness of his arm in verse 16.
17 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.
Once again, we get the idea that God intends not only for Israel to dwell in the land, but that he has made the land for him to dwell in as well.
The sanctuary which God’s hands have established is more than the land being a sanctuary, it is a reference to the place where the city of God which will come down in the millennial kingdom will dwell.
18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.
19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
[timbrel(s) – any small musical instrument that is beat upon]
21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 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.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
The judgments of God were very bitter (Marah) to the Egyptians but His mercy was very sweet to the Children of Israel in delivering them from their bondage.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
[Deut 32:39, Psa 33:9, Psa 103:3, Psa 107:20, Jer 17:14, Matt 8:8]
Elim in Hebrew means belongs to God. It was not the city that belonged to God but the nation that had just been born in a day.
Israel before it was ever known as the nation of Israel went into Egypt with only seventy people which made up a family that had twelve patriarchs.
They would later become the twelve tribes of Israel represented by the twelve wells of water, what an amazing sign of God’s hand in their deliverance that they could see every time they went to get water.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-21 – This song is the most ancient we know of. It is a holy song, to the honour of God, to exalt his name, and celebrate his praise, and his only, not in the least to magnify any man. Holiness to the Lord is in every part of it. It may be considered as typical, and prophetical of the final destruction of the enemies of the church. Happy the people whose God is the Lord. They have work to do, temptations to grapple with, and afflictions to bear, and are weak in themselves; but his grace is their strength. They are often in sorrow, but in him they have comfort; he is their song. Sin, and death, and hell threaten them, but he is, and will be their salvation. The Lord is a God of almighty power, and woe to those that strive with their Maker! He is a God of matchless perfection; he is glorious in holiness; his holiness is his glory. His holiness appears in the hatred of sin, and his wrath against obstinate sinners. It appears in the deliverance of Israel, and his faithfulness to his own promise. He is fearful in praises; that which is matter of praise to the servants of God, is very dreadful to his enemies. He is doing wonders, things out of the common course of nature; wondrous to those in whose favour they are wrought, who are so unworthy, that they had no reason to expect them. There were wonders of power and wonders of grace; in both, God was to be humbly adored.
Verse 22-27 – In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lord’s servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.