Exodus Chapters 15-17 (with your Bible in hand)
The Children of Israel were navigating uncharted paths. Never before had the descendants of Abraham been such a great nation. Never before had God delivered a people from bondage as He had Israel from Egypt. Never before had any of these people been led through a wilderness by the one true God appearing in a column of cloud and fire and speaking through His prophet Moses.
Walking down such a path meant new challenges—and new tests of faith—at nearly every turn. Each of these challenges became an opportunity for the Children of Israel to learn more about the Lord and to grow in their trust of Him.
Various psalmists speak of singing a “new song.” These songs are new because they reflect on a new application of God’s mercy and give a new insight into His grace. There is a “new song” to be sung with each new reason to glorify and praise God’s holy name.
The new song also becomes a testimony to others. King David wrote, “He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord”
Daily reasons to sing a new song for God’s glory and as a witness to others are exactly what we find in the history of Israel’s time in the wilderness. Oh, the Israelites didn’t always see it that way, but it is true nonetheless.
After the Lord defeated the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Moses literally sang of the newness of this victory and gave glory to God.“I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously… Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea… Who is like You, O Lord… Who is like You, glorious in holiness…?” (see Exodus 15).
Moses also sang of the many who would see it and fear: “The people will hear and be afraid; Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia… All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away”
Three days later a lack of water created a new hardship. The traveling nation came to Marah where the water was bitter and not fit for drinking. The new song at the Red Sea faded and was quickly lost in the people’s complaints.
God showed Moses a tree which would miraculously make the water sweet. After this God provided water with natural means by bringing the people to the oasis Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees.
Still later when the people were again without water and again contended with Moses, God’s mighty deliverance seemed to be an even more distant memory. The people cried out: “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:3). The Lord again answered the need miraculously, this time by sending water gushing out of a rock after Moses hit it with his staff.
On the fifteenth day of the second month after Israel left Egypt, the food provisions they carried from Egypt had been exhausted. It was another opportunity for the Lord to accomplish great things—and
for His people to respond witha new song.
However, “the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron… (and) said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’”
This time the Lord began sending bread on the ground each morning and quail to cover the camp each night. This food would sustain the people throughout all their wilderness wanderings.
As the Israelites experienced the bread for the first time, they asked each other, “Man-ah? Man-ah? …’What is it?’– a question from which the familiar name for the bread manna was taken.
With this miraculous bread God was giving built-in reminders that He was the source of this blessing and built-in tests for the people’s trust and obedience. Manna came only six days each week, and the people were only to gather enough for each day. The one exception was the sixth day when they could gather double in order to have food on the Sabbath Day when no manna would come. Gather more than you need, and the next day it was rotten, stinky, and filled with worms. Gather only one day’s worth on the sixth day andgo hungry.
Each day with morning bread and evening meat was a day to sing of the Lord’s daily provision and a new song of His mercy; but sadly, in later years even the manna became “old news” and a sourceof complaint among Israel(see Numbers 21:5).
Bodily needs of food and drink were met in abundance by the Lord—sing to Him a new song!
Yet, that was not all that Israel had to face in its early wilderness wandering. The Amalakites came out to do battle.
Joshua led the Israelite army in battle. While they fought, Moses held up his rod and Israel prevailed; but when Moses let his hands down, Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur “took a stone and put it under [Moses], and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands…until the going down of the sun” (Exodus 17:12).
The Lord gave Israel the victory that day, thus demonstrating His deliverance in yet another way to His people. Sing to the Lord a new song!
Isn’t it amazing to walk with the Children of Israel and witness the daily opportunities they had to marvel at God’s goodness?! If the Lord’s compassion and mercy are new each morning, and indeed they are (cf. Lamentations 3:23), then each day brings with it another “new song” that every child of God can sing!
The basis for a daily new song isn’t dependent on whether or not we see it. The Children of Israel were often caught up in what they saw, what they felt, what they concluded, and were so blinded by their sinfulness that they missed reasons to sing a new song. Nevertheless, the reasons were there. Israel’s blindness did not change God’s character.
A good daily prayer for all of us is, “Lord, open my eyes to see the reasons for singing a new song each and every day.”
To a certain degree each day of our own lives is new territory for which we have no detailed road map. Doubt and uncertainty can combine to diminish our desire to sing to the Lord. The Children of Israel came to the point of saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
No matter how uncharted our life feels and no matter how dark the path ahead appears, our Savior declares, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). He knows the way, and that enables us to keep on singing the new song!
Like Israel we forget the Lord’s blessings. The abundance He provides can all too easily become “same old, same old.” Our hearts can grow dull, tired, and a little flabby in the exercise of singing the new song. Yet, let us wake up our hearts with the goodness of our Lord as revealed in Scripture.
Revitalize your heart’s singing with the marvel of hearing the almighty God of heaven and earth speak directly to you through His Word!
Each of the challenges which Israel faced were met by God’s providence. These solutions to Israel’s problems can have no explanation other than the blessing of God.
As God works “His-Story” in our lives, there will be no doubt that He alone is accomplishing what is good for us; there can be no other explanation.
May we be quick and ready to help others see God’s Story unfold in our personal life stories so that they too will see it, and with us fear and trust in the Lord.
Sing a new song unto the Lord… daily!”