Exodus 15:1-18 - Homiletics
The song of Moses a pattern thanksgiving.
There is nothing in the whole range of sacred or profane literature more fresh, more vigorous, more teeming with devotional thought than this wonderful poem. In rhythm it is grand and sonorous, in construction skilful and varied, in the quality of the thoughts lofty, in the mode of expression at once simple and sublime. Partly historic, partly prophetic, it describes the past with marvellous power, and gives with a few touches a glorious picture of the future. Throughout it breathes the warmest love of God, the deepest thankfulness to him, the strongest regard for his honour. We may well take it for our model when we have to thank God:—
I. FOR A TEMPORAL DELIVERANCE ; and observe
(a) distinct and repeated enunciation of the deliverance itself, with expatiation on its circumstances;
(b) anticipation of further advantages to flow from the deliverance in the future;
(c) transition from the particular mercy to the consideration of God's power, greatness and goodness in the abstract; and
(d) glorification of God on all three accounts.
(a) beginning and ending with praise;
(b) intermixture of the praise with the grounds of praise;
(c) persistence and repetition, but with the introduction of new touches.
(b) discontinuous, or broken into stanzas;
Our thanksgivings for great national or even great personal deliverances may well, if our powers suffice, take a poetic shape. Poetry is more expressive than prose, more heart-stirring, more enthusiastic. It is also better remembered, and it is less diffuse.
II. FOR SPIRITUAL DELIVERANCE FROM THE EGYPT OF SIN . Each man's deliverance will have its own peculiar features, which he will do well to note and make special subjects of thankfulness, not sparing repetition, that he may present the matter to himself in various lights, and see all God's goodness in respect of it. Each deliverance will also lead naturally to prospective thoughts, extending beyond the wilderness of this life to the Canaan which is our inheritance. Each will profitably lead us to go beyond ourselves, and dwell for a while on the general attributes of God, whence proceed the mercies that we individually experience; and we shall do well to praise God on all these accounts. Manner and form are of less importance than matter, and admit of more variety without sensible loss; but even here "the song" furnishes a pattern on which it would be hard to improve. The grounds for preferring poetry to prose for such an outpouring of the heart as a thanksgiving have been already stated. The propriety of beginning and ending with praise is unquestionable. Repetition has a value as deepening impressions, and affording opportunity for remedying accidental coldness or inattention. In private devotion the actual repetition of the very same words has an occasional place, as we see by our Lord's example in the garden of Gethsemane ( Matthew 26:44 ); but in a composition, phrases should be varied. Moses's song may well guide us as to the extent and character of such variation ( e.g; Exodus 15:5 , Exodus 15:10 , and Exodus 15:12 ).
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