Song of the Free

“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He 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.’” Exodus 15:1-3

Freedom and song are sisters. When a people have been redeemed from bondage, when their chains of oppression are broken, their hearts break open with song. The Song of Moses and Miriam is latent with the passionate celebration of a people who have just been miraculously freed. 

In their song there is triumph: “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea” (vs 4). The objects of oppression are now irrelevant and harmless. The people who once terrified are now the objects of scorn. The enemy has been defeated and our faith in God has been vindicated. 

In their song there is worship: “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (vs 11), and ““The Lord reigns for ever and ever” (vs 18). There is a humble recognition that it is God who delivered. There is only one object of our faith that can deliver. God delivered in a way that drew attention to his might and not Israel’s. They marched out in military formation, but the only weapon that mattered was God’s might.

In their singing there is celebration: Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.” There is a release of joy when one realizes that the source of tension and fear had been removed. Notice how Miriam’s joy is contagious. When we celebrate others want to join in. I remember living in PA a when the Eagles made their Super Bowl run. I’m not an Eagles fan but being around people that I loved who were in full-on celebration mode was intoxicating. When we give ourselves to celebrating what God has done, others want to join. 

Singing effects our emotions, but it also aids in our memory. I’m still thinking about the sermon’s reference to Les Misérables’ “Do You Hear the People Sing” days later. The children of Israel needed the memory aid of this song because they would easily forget the misery of their slavery, the deadliness of their enemy, and the awesome might of their God. When they would later face opposition, they were prone to romanticize the luxuries of Egypt. 

We too can be enticed to think longingly to the days of our slavery. The Apostle Paul compared our bondage to sin as a type of slavery. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).” For Christians, our worship reminds us of our redemption from the slavery of sin, it causes us to celebrate our Lord who is a warrior for us, and it stirs our heart to keep going forward in the freedom for which Christ has made us free. 


About Scott Dunford

Lead Church Planter at Redeemer Church of Silicon Valley and Director of West Coast Mobilization for ABWE International.
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