In Egypt, the children of Israel sighed because of their bondage (Exodus 2:23). But God turned their sighing into singing by Exodus 15:1. God had worked ten plagues upon Egypt, showing His immense power over all of nature (Exodus 7:14-11:10). The Lord got glory over Pharaoh and all his host when they pursued the Israelites to the Red Sea (Exodus 14:4). The children of Israel were terrified because the world’s mightiest army was breathing down their necks and they were, seemingly, trapped at the border of the sea. But Moses said to the people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14). The waters of the sea parted and the children of Israel passed through to the middle on dry ground with a wall of water on each side (Exodus 14:21-22). However, when Pharaoh’s army pursued after them and attempted to traverse the path the Lord had opened in the sea, the waters of the sea came crashing down upon them and they were drowned in its depths (Exodus 14:23-28).
The Lord’s great power displayed in their deliverance caused Israel to fear and believe the Lord (Exodus 14:31). They then sang the song recorded in Exodus 15:1-18. The first thirteen verses alternate between describing who the Lord is and what He has done. Verses fourteen through eighteen describe the repercussions of the Lord’s mighty work, namely that the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, to which the Lord was leading Israel, would fear the Lord. When the spies were sent into the land, Rahab hid them for she said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt…” (Joshua 2:9-10). The inhabitants of Canaan knew the Lord had the power to destroy them, but sadly the majority of the congregation of Israel did not have that confidence in the Lord’s power when they first spied the land (Numbers 13:26-14:10).
It is good for us to be reminded of what the Lord has done. When God was about to give His commandments on Mount Sinai to Israel, He said, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). Before He gave them what He expected them to do, He reminded them of what He had done. The New Testament contains the same pattern time and again. One example is 2 Peter 1. Before giving the exhortation to give diligence in adding Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-7), Peter reminds his brethren about what God had done through His power: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Seeing clearly what the Lord has done will produce faith. It is this faith that becomes the dynamic of an obedient life. Without faith there is no impetus for obedience. Most of the Israelites forgot what the Lord had done and allowed their faith to wane and thus did not enter the land of rest. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Be reminded each day of what the Lord has done, so you can live a life of faith. When you forget the Lord’s help there is sighing, but when you remember His great work there is singing.