July 17th, 2017
What is your song of triumph?
As they finally witness the defeat of the Egyptians, the Israelites remember the victory in the “Song of the Sea” (Exodus 15), which gives us great insights into what salvation actually looks like:
- Salvation is a rescue operation. Without a rescuer, the Israelites are about to die as the Egyptian armor (600 chariots) is bearing down on them in hot pursuit (see Exodus 14).
- It is always against all odds. The Israelites are facing the might of Egypt, the Superpower of the day. Without divine intervention, all hope is lost!
- Salvation is in extremis. It seems the Lord waits until the very last moment to manifest his salvation!
- All of a sudden, the enemy is gone. In Exodus 15, the threat literally disappears in front of the people’s eyes, engulfed in waters. The motif plays itself out elsewhere: in 2 Kings 7, the Syrian camp is suddenly emptied out. The threat is gone. At the very end of the days, “Babylon” (=everything which stands against God and His Kingdom) will be gone in an instant:
“Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying: So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence and will be found no more” (Revelation 18:21).
So the Song of the Sea becomes a paradigm to remember the Lord’s salvation. Yahweh “drew” David “out of many waters” (Psalm 18:16). Jonah, who got himself into deep waters through his disobedience, has his own “song of the Sea:” “For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me, all your waves and your billows passed over me” (Jonah 2:3). He too knows that in the end “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
Why would the Lord embark in this rescue operation? Because of His deep love for us as individuals. In the Song of the Sea, Moses speaks of the corporate salvation of Israel in very personal and intimate terms: “I will sing to the Lord! He has become my salvation!” (Exodus 15:1-2). David’s own confidence in the love of the Father is unflinching: “He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19; see Exodus 15:13).
The deeps of the sea is a powerful imagery because it represents the threat of death and the grave. In the Gospel, when Jesus calms the storm on the sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35ff), He anticipates his victory over death (1 Corinthians 15; Romans 6). Jesus rescues us from death so that by believing in Him we gain eternal life. In the new Heavens and New Earth, death has been defeated, so the “sea is no more” (Revelation 21:1).
When John Wesley faced a great storm during his crossing to America in the 1700s, he witnessed the peace and joy of Moravian believers as they were singing hymns in the midst of the chaos and mayhem aboard. This is a peace he himself didn’t possess at the time. Bernie Webber and his crew aboard a 36 ft/90 hp Coast Guard Motorized Life Boat faced up to 60 ft seas to rescue the crew of the tanker Pendleton off Cape Cod. On their way over the Chatham bar (deemed an impossible fate in the midst of this February 1952 “Nor’eastah”), they began singing “Rock of Ages.”
So what about us? What will be our song of triumph when our enemies are “too mighty for us” (Psalm 18:17)? Do we remember and celebrate the times when the Lord has saved us against all odds? What is our Song of the Sea? Do I really believe, like King David, that God loves me so much as my Heavenly Father, that He delivers me because He delights in me? Perhaps some of us are in the midst of 60ft seas right now. Perhaps, like Jonah, we got into these deep waters all by our own foolishness. Whatever the circumstances, let Him be our rescuer and let Him put His song of triumph in your hearts.