In this study we have been looking at Israel's song at the Red Sea and learning how God's people should respond to the mighty salvation of the Lord. In Part 1 we saw that their must first be an internal, heart response (Ex 14:31). Then we saw that Israel followed their heart response of faith with an external praise response: they sang to the LORD (Ex15:1-19). Part 2 showed us how Israel's song was full of theological substance, as they praised God for his attributes and his actions.
But today we look at an aspect of the believer's praise that might surprise some people: we sing not only to God, but to each other.
They Sang to Each Other (15:20-21). “And Miriam sang to them..” (v21).
As Moses finishes leading the people in their song to God, he and Aaron's sister, Miriam (who must have been, by my calculations, somewhere around 90 years old!) went out with tambourines and dancing. All the women of Israel followed her, and they rejoiced before the Lord because of his great rescue from the Egyptians! Miriam sang "to them."
It seems very logical to praise God in song after he shows his power and love and saves us. But why sing to God's people?
Encouraging God’s People.
Miriam leads the women in singing and dancing and playing instruments. The community has sung to God, but as they begin singing to each other imagine their great joy in the Lord! God’s people build each other up through singing together about our God. It is a great form of encouragement to the saints when we join together in lifted song. God is not just saving individuals, but a community of believers. When we sing together we remind each other of what God has done for us all.
Passing Truth to the Next Generation.
Miriam and the ladies are repeating the song that Moses has just taught to Israel. In a culture that passed history from one generation to the next by oral stories and songs, this was an excellent way to ensure that Israel’s children would never forget the great salvation of the Lord. They were teaching the song to the whole community...already. The song was brand new, but immediately Israel begins to repeat it, sing it to one another, learn it. Over the weeks and months and years ahead, Israel would no doubt sing this song together as a people, and as families in their tents, to remember the Lord and his great salvation of his people. In fact, the rest of Scripture testifies to the fact that Israel always remembered this great event!
The songs of the church also pass truth to the next generation. Our children will believe what we sing together. We must therefore strive to make sure that the songs we sing are filled with truth; filled with the gospel! Will our children learn from our songs only that we think God is good..or will they learn WHY God is good?
Our children should also see us singing these songs with passion – from hearts that have obviously been touched by God – hearts that have ‘seen’ the great power and salvation of the Lord!
What are our children learning from us as they watch us in worship? (or for that matter, what are our children learning from us as they view us in other aspects of worship? What do they learn about the preaching of God's word, about giving, about staying to fellowship with other believers, about the importance of receiving
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?)
May the church be built up in truth and love as we sing songs to God and to each other!
"...be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..."
Ephesians 5:18-19, ESV
In Part 4 we will contemplate the idea of singing about God's wrath and judgment of his enemies, as Israel has done in their song.