Summary: God has rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage with a mighty hand at the Red Sea as they cross over on dry land and the Egyptian army drowns in the Sea. Israel has something to sing about and Moses teaches them the first song in the Bible.
What do you sing about?
In his book "Psalms of the Heart," George Sweeting tells of two Moody Bible Institute graduates, John and Elaine Beekman, who, in 1951, began missionary work among the Chol Indians of southern Mexico. Sweeting reports that they rode mules and traveled by dugout canoes to reach this tribe. They labored 25 years with other Wycliff missionaries to translate the New Testament into the language of the Chol Indians. Today the Chol indian Church is thriving with more than 12,000 members that make up the Chol Christian community, which is also financially self-supporting. One thing that is interesting, Sweeting says, is that when the missionaries came, the Chol Indians didn’t know how to sing, (or at least it was rare among them). With the coming of the gospel, however, the believers in the tribe became known as "the singers". Elaine Beekman translated hundreds of Christian songs into their language.
"They love to sing now," Sweeting commented, "because they have something to sing about." (illustration from Jeff Strite’s sermon: The Singing Sister)
Here in Exodus 15, Israel has something to sing about! So Moses and Miriam teach them a song.
This is the first recorded song in the Bible. It is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God who delivered Israel from the Egyptian army. There is the appearance that Moses teaches this song to the men and his sister, Miriam, to the women.
What do you sing about?
Singing as worship to God has a rich history in the Old and New Testaments. God even saw fit to include a song book in the Bible for us, the book of Psalms. Music in the Bible goes as far back as Genesis 4:21 when Jubal, the sixth generation from Cain, is said to be the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.
Music and singing has moved in all sorts of directions in human history with untold millions of songs having been written and sung for all kinds of purposes.
But today, in light of what we see in Exodus 15 and all that follows about singing in the Bible, one thing is clear: God gives us the highest and best reason to sing, and He also gives us the highest and best things to sing about. The Bible tells us that Jesus sang with His disciples – Mark 14:26 and we read in Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
What does God sing about? You! He rejoices over you who are His children with singing! And God wants us to have such a relationship with Him as our Father through Jesus that we will rejoice in singing about Him and to Him!
The Bible talks about the song of fools. We hear those being sung all around us, don’t we? The world is full of songs that celebrate sin and lust, songs that degrade human dignity and exalt the flesh while ignoring God, songs that mock righteousness and promote wickedness. Our fallen world is full of the music and celebration of darkness and death. For some, it is the only music that they know. The enemy of God is deceptive and clever. He calls us to join in the world’s song. Oh, not seriously, just in fun! As if you can fill your mind with the world’s message and not be infected by it. In fact, I am sure that Satan would be very pleased for us to join in with the songs of fools even if we continue to sing the songs of praise to our God. Then we will be like James says: “out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing, my brothers this should not be!”
Next time you hear a song, listen to the words carefully. Ask yourself this question: Is this song pleasing to God or not? Does it have a message that Jesus would sing about? If so, go ahead and enjoy it and sing along if you please. But if not, don’t. Consider Psalms 19, a song from God’s word that ends with these words, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” And remember the words of Jesus who said, “Man shall give an account for every idle word he speaks, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” And remember Paul who wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” And Peter who wrote, “If any man speaks, let him speak as it were the very words of God.”