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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 15

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3


‘The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name’

Exodus 15:3

These words are part of an outburst of national song, the triumphant song of God’s chosen people when they, by God’s strength, escaped from the tyranny of Egypt, and found themselves a redeemed, free, delivered people. The Lord has continued to exercise His triumphant power in the Christian Church. The standard of spiritual life in individual Christians at the present day warrants the expectations which have been awakened by the first promises of the Gospel. It is possible to look at this in two or three aspects.

I. The thought of God’s triumphs as a man of war seems to be valuable as giving in its degree a proof of the truth of Holy Writ. The moral expectations raised by our Lord’s first Sermon on the Mount are being actually realised in many separate souls now. The prayer for strength to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh is becoming daily more visibly proved in the triumph of the Spirit, in the individual lives of the redeemed.

II. The triumphs of the Lord in the individual hearts among us give an increasing hope for unity throughout Christendom. We cannot deny the debt we owe to the labours of Nonconformists in the days of the Church’s lethargy and neglect. We cannot join them now, but we are preparing for a more close and lasting union, in God’s own time, by the individual progress in spiritual things.

III. We must do our part to set our seal to the triumphant power of Divine grace.—It is the half-lives of Christians which are such a poor proof of the truth of our Lord’s words. They do not begin early enough; they do not work thoroughly enough. We have the promise that this song shall be at last on the lips of all who prevail, for St. John tells us in the Revelation that he saw those who had overcome standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.

Bishop King.


(1) ‘While the Lord was leading His own people in the light, helping them on, He was making it hard for their enemies. It makes a world of difference with us on which side of God we are. From one side love flows; from the other wrath bursts. A great fortress in war times is a protection to some, but only to those who are inside its walls. Those outside find no such protection from it.’

(2) ‘A German officer, after the Franco-German war, heard a certain air. “Ah!” he exclaimed, “We were commanded to cross the bridge. It was swept by the enemies’ fire. The men were baffled. Suddenly the band began that air, and the men plucked up heart in a moment, rushed across and carried all before them.” A fearless spirit is already half-way to victory. Nothing makes the heart so strong as confidence in a strong leader. Moses bids them remember “Jehovah is a man of war.” All the following verses describe His puissance. It was that thought which made Israel strong. When he remembered it, he conquered. When he forgot it, he was chased by his foes.’

(3) ‘When Augustine of Hippo began to use the Psalms after his spiritual awakening, he says, “Oh, what accents did I utter unto Thee in those Psalms, and how was I by them kindled towards Thee, and on fire did rehearse them!” (“Confessions,” Bk. IX, 8.) Have you ever felt anything like that? Besides offering praise to God in the congregation, we should never be shamed to own to friends and companions “what God has done for us.” ’

Verse 25


‘The waters were made sweet.’

Exodus 15:25

We have in our text a parable of the deep things of Christ.

I. Israel was in those days fresh, from their glorious deliverance out of Egypt, they had sung their first national song of victory; they had breathed the air of liberty. This was their first disappointment, and it was a very sharp one; from the height of exultation they fell almost at once to the depths of despair. Such disappointments we have all experienced, especially in the outset of our actual march, after the first conscious sense of spiritual triumph and freedom.

II. Of us also it is true that God hath showed us a certain tree, and that tree is the once accursed tree on which Christ died. This is the tree of life to us, although of death to Him.

III. It was God who showed this tree unto Moses.—And it was God who showed it to us in the Gospel. Applied by our faith to the bitter waters of disappointment and distress, it will surely heal them and make them sweet. Two things there are about the tree of scorn which will never lose their healing power—the lesson of the Cross and the consolation of the Cross; the example and the companionship of Christ crucified.

IV. The life which found its fitting close upon the Cross was not a life of suffering only, but emphatically a life of disappointment.—Here there is comfort for us. Our dying Lord must certainly have reflected that He, the Son of God, was leaving the world rather worse than He found it in all human appearance.

V. Whatever our trials and disappointments, let us use this remedy; it will not fail us, even at the worst.

Rev. R. Winterbotham.


(1)‘Elim, Elim! Through the sand and heat

I toil with heart uplifted, I toil with bleeding feet;

For Elim, Elim! at the last, I know

That I shall see the palm-trees, and hear the waters flow.

Elim, Elim! Grows not here a tree,

And all the springs are Marah, and bitter thirst to me;

But Elim, Elim! in thy shady glen

Are twelve sweet wells of water, and palms threescore and ten.

Elim, Elim! though the way be long,

Unmurmuring I shall journey, and lift my heart in song;

And Elim, Elim! all my song shall tell

Of rest beneath the palm-tree, and joy beside the well.

(2) ‘What a motley company it was! A good many did not love and trust God for themselves; they were good because they were with good people; but such goodness is sure to break down when the first trouble comes. There is a striking sentence in one of the Psalms, “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him.” That we must do, each one for himself.

Is it right to grumble when something seems to go wrong? These Israelites should have united to pray. That would have been a thousand times wiser than “murmuring.” Some are always grumbling and finding fault. Take care not to begin the bad habit in early life; and remember, there is never any real reason for murmuring against God.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 15". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-15.html. 1876.
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