Music in the Bible #2
The first song recorded in the Bible is found in Exodus 15. Moses and the children of Israel had just passed through the Red Sea and then watched as the Lord destroyed the entire Egyptian army. After this epic win, the Israelites had much to be thankful for, and sang this song -- a song of victory. A lot of time could be spent in talking through this whole chapter, but I'd like to look at the first two verses.
"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. 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."
We can again consider the importance of first mention with these verses, since this is the first song recorded in Scripture. It is interesting to note that the final song recorded in Scripture is also a song of Moses. Coincidence? I think not. The whole presentation of God's truth is well-ordered and structured, and music is no exception. God is a God of order. Our spiritual offerings to God, including music, are to be conducted in a proper manner (I Corinthians chapter 14, summarized in verse 40).
But enough on that...let's look at the text. The singers were Moses and the children of Israel, and later, Miriam and the women responded with a repetition of the chorus. The audience was the Lord himself, as they sang "unto the Lord." Their song followed this sequence:
What a fabulous way to give God the praise that He deserved! The Israelites didn't say anything self-promoting or prideful in this song, because they realized that they could only attribute their victory to the Lord's power. It would be proper for church musicians of today to have this same attitude when composing and presenting messages in song.
Verse 2 is particularly engaging to me for a number of reasons, the first being that this particular phrase is repeated in key places in the Bible. Besides Exodus 15:2, the Lord is called strength, song, and salvation in Psalm 118:14 and in Isaiah 12:2. We find this reference to the Lord in books of the law (and historical narrative), poetry, and prophecy.
The word "song" as it is used in these three verses is the Hebrew word "zimrath," and this word is only used in these three places in Scripture. The word refers not to the lyrics of the music, but instead has the idea of music that is plucked or struck on a string -- the actual melody. We should not just allude to God in the lyrics of our music, but also the actual melody and harmonies themselves. The Lord our God is the Author of music -- God is our song!
Lastly, Moses articulates two realizations and responses in this verse. One realization is that God is personal as he says, "he is my God." He responds to this truth by saying that he will "prepare Him an habitation." Are we preparing a dwelling place for God in our lives? God does not need this from us, but we need His presence with us.
Moses also realizes that God is "my father's God." God works today just as He has in the past. If we take the time to reflect back on what God has done in all the history before us, we will be more able to see His working in our lives today. Moses responds by praising and exalting the Lord. We can do the same.
Take some time today to reflect on the great things that God has done. What are some great things that the Lord has done for you? If you'd like to share these reflections, feel free to comment below.
Rick McDonnell is a vocalist, voice teacher, and the head blogger at Harmony Passion. Rick enjoys family time, technology, barbershop quartets, singing at church and community events, personal finance, P90X workouts, and studying and teaching the Bible. Rick and his wife Bethany teach music students in their home studio and in music studios in nearby Thomasville, GA.
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