The phrase “the Lord is my strength and my song” comes from Exodus 15:2, which says: “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” This verse is part of the “Song of Moses,” which Moses and the Israelites sang after God miraculously parted the Red Sea and allowed them to escape from the pursuing Egyptian army.
So what does it mean when the verse says “the Lord is my strength”? This is acknowledging that it was the Lord who gave the Israelites the strength and ability to escape from the Egyptians. On their own, the Israelites would have been helpless against the mighty Egyptian army. But with God’s power and intervention on their behalf, the Israelites were able to make it through the Red Sea alive while the Egyptian army drowned. The Lord was the source of supernatural strength and deliverance for his people.
The phrase “the Lord is my song” means that the Lord is the reason and inspiration for our praise and worship. After witnessing God’s mighty hand of deliverance, Moses bursts out into a song of praise to God. God’s loving protection and care for his people motivates Moses to sing and make music to the Lord. Throughout the Bible, music and song are often used as a way to praise and honor God for who he is and what he has done. So this phrase expresses the idea that because of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and saving power, he deserves our songs of worship. He is the muse, subject, and audience for the praise music of his people.
Looking at the wider context of verse 2, we see that God being their strength and song is tied directly to the idea of God being their salvation. The verse says “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” It’s because God saved them that he is worthy of being praised in song as the source of their strength. The saving acts of God are the motivation for our worship.
Later in verse 3, the phrase “The Lord is a warrior” is used to express the same idea – that God fought mightily for his people and destroyed their enemies, giving them victory. So God as a warrior who won the battle on their behalf is the reason he is praised in song as their strength.
Some key themes that emerge from Exodus 15:2 in context are:
1. God’s mighty power to save his people and give them victory.
2. God as the source of our strength when we are weak.
3. God deserving praise and worship because of his excellent character and saving acts.
4. Music as an appropriate way to celebrate God’s goodness and express our gratitude.
5. Salvation as the central theme of the entire exodus story and God’s relationship with Israel.
In summary, this verse poetically expresses the idea that God’s saving works and abundant strength are the reason and motivation for our songs of praise. We worship him for who he is and what he has done for us.
1. God’s Strength for His People
One of the primary themes in Exodus 15:2 is that God himself is the source of strength and deliverance for his people. Throughout the exodus story, the Israelites find themselves in situations where they are helpless and vulnerable before more powerful human enemies or forces of nature. But God intervenes with mighty displays of power to protect and save his people from danger. For example:
– God sent the 10 plagues on Egypt, demonstrating his absolute power over the forces of nature and the false gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 7-12). This culminated in the death of the firstborn sons, breaking Pharaoh’s resolve and securing the Israelites’ freedom from slavery.
– God parted the waters of the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to walk through on dry ground but causing the waters to come crashing down on the pursuing Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21-31). This miraculous intervention secured their escape from Egypt.
– When the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptian army, they were terrified and cried out to God. But Moses reassured them, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14). God then fought for them by collapsing the Red Sea on their enemies.
– When the Israelites were hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, God provided manna from heaven and water from a rock for them to eat and drink, sustaining them on their journey (Exodus 16-17).
So the statement that “the Lord is my strength” recognizes that in situations where the Israelites were completely powerless and lacking in human resources, God’s divine power came through to give them exactly what they needed. The mighty hand of God was the source of their strength. Without him, they would have perished or been destroyed by their enemies. But because God fought for them with his superior strength, they were able to escape danger and do the impossible.
This truth about God’s strength rescuing his people is not limited to the specific story of the Exodus. Throughout Scripture, God’s superior power and divine resources are exerted to strengthen his people, defend them from attacks, supply their needs, and generally accomplish what they could not do on their own strength. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s strength is most evidently displayed through the weakness of his people. Just as God was the warrior and strength for Israel against Egypt long ago, he remains the strength for his people today when they humbly depend on him.
2. God Deserves Our Songs
The second important idea in Exodus 15:2 is that God deserves our songs and praise because of his saving acts on our behalf. The statement that “the Lord is my song” is more than saying God simply enjoys music or wants us to sing random songs to him. The context makes it clear the reason he is “my song” is because of his powerful salvation – “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” God’s praiseworthiness is tied directly to his mighty works of redemption and deliverance for his people.
Throughout Scripture, music and song are presented as an appropriate response to experiencing God’s salvation and favor. For example:
– In Exodus 15, the “Song of Moses” continues for 18 verses praising the power, glory, love, and superiority of God demonstrated in defeating Egypt and saving Israel. They sang this song right after passing through the Red Sea.
– In Judges 5, Deborah and Barak sing a song of praise after God empowered them to defeat the Canaanites and deliver Israel.
– Isaiah 12 urges, “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (v.5). It points to God becoming their salvation and strength (v.2), parallel to Exodus 15:2.
– After Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, Matthew 26:30 says, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Even Jesus led in singing a hymn in response to God’s salvation.
Singing praise to God is the natural human response to experiencing his awesome power and miraculous saving acts on our behalf. We overflow in worship when we contemplate the mighty hand of God doing what we could not do for ourselves. Just like the Israelites at the shores of the Red Sea, God deserves the praise of our song when we reflect on how much he has saved us from – sin, death, hell, and despair. He alone deserves the glory, so our songs rightly rise to him.
This principle applies on a personal level when God rescues us from a particular trial or meets a specific need in our lives. But it also applies on the grand scale of God sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and rising from the dead – the ultimate demonstration of God’s incomparable power and love in saving us. God as our salvation is why he deserves our song.
3. Strength and Song Go Together
In Exodus 15:2, the two parallel phrases “the Lord is my strength” and “the Lord is my song” are closely connected. They are two sides of the same coin. A key insight is that properly appreciating God’s strength leads to worshipful songs, while grasping his salvation leads us to depend on his strength.
When we fail to see God’s mighty hand at work providing, protecting, and saving us, we will not sense a need to sing praise to him. We might fall into the trap of thinking our strength comes from ourselves or worldly sources. But when our eyes are opened to how God’s strength was the only thing that could have helped us in our time of need, our natural impulse is to burst out in song to God. As Deuteronomy 32:3-4 says, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, ascribe greatness to our God!…A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Seeing God’s great attributes like his faithfulness, justice and power produces songs.
At the same time, focusing our minds on God’s superiority through worship music and praise trains us to then rely on his strength. Singing songs like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Great Thou Art” reinforces God’s mighty attributes in our minds and hearts. This perspective encourages us when facing trials to say along with Jehoshaphat, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Worship strengthens faith in God’s power.
So Exodus 15:2 neatly summarizes this two-directional relationship between praising God’s strength and depending on it. We could rephrase it as, “Because you are my strength, you deserve my song of praise; and the more I praise you, the more I trust in your strength.” Our worship and God’s power together form the solid foundation we need to live the Christian life.
4. God as Our Salvation
The mention of God becoming “my salvation” is the hinge point tying together the themes of God’s strength and our worship. As discussed above, God’s mighty works to save his people spur us to praise him. He demonstrates his superior strength by rescuing us from danger and meeting our needs. And focusing on God as Savior strengthens our trust to rely on him.
So the salvation of God is the grand theme behind the exodus story, Moses’ song, and all of God’s interactions with his people. The Israelites saw firsthand God’s miraculous power to save them from physical slavery and death at the hands of the Egyptians. But an even greater salvation was coming in the future – freedom from slavery to sin and death through Christ.
The salvation won by Christ on the cross for all who believe fulfills what the exodus redemption from Egypt pictured in the Old Testament:
– Romans 6:17-18 and many other NT verses portray sin as slavery that Christ frees us from.
– Hebrews 2:14-15 shows Jesus destroyed the power of death over us, just as God overthrew death by parting the Red Sea.
– Colossians 1:13 says God has delivered us from darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his Son, like Israel was delivered from Egyptian darkness.
– Just as God redeemed Israel as his firstborn son (Exodus 4:22), so also he brings many sons to glory through Christ the true Firstborn (Hebrews 2:10).
– Christ is the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) who saves us just as the blood of the lamb delivered Israel.
So the physical redemption pictured in Exodus finds its full meaning and fulfillment in the spiritual redemption of sinners through Christ on the cross. The strength of God and songs of his people continue on, but now focused on the completed work of Christ for our eternal salvation.
5. Applications for Today
While Exodus 15:2 occurred in the context of God’s historic deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the principles contained in this verse remain very applicable for believers today:
1) God remains our source of strength and deliverance. Just as he fought for Israel, he continues to fight spiritual battles and work powerfully in our lives today (2 Chronicles 16:9). When we hit obstacles, attacks, needs, and difficulties beyond our human capabilities, we can rely on divine strength.
2) God still deserves our songs of praise, because Jesus accomplished an even greater redemption through his finished work on the cross (Hebrews 9:12). Our singing overflows from recognizing what God has saved us from through Christ. The cross remains the supreme motivation for our worship.
3) Strength and song still go hand-in-hand. Right worship reinforces our trust in God’s power working through our weakness. Relying on God’s strength motivates overflowing praise. Both are needed.
4) Salvation through Christ remains the unifying theme that makes sense of history, creation, our lives, and God’s plan for the world. The exodus deliverance points forward to the cross as the greater salvation story encompassing everything.
5) Because God continues his saving work today, we should frequently recall and praise him for spiritual victories and battles he has fought for us. What Red Sea miracles of deliverance can you testify to on your spiritual journey? Sing to him for every one.
The Song of Moses ends in Exodus 15:18 declaring “The Lord will reign forever and ever.” Indeed, our mighty Savior and King remains on the throne today, worthy of all our strength and song. And he will keep reigning and saving until eternity.