Saturday, July 21, 2012

Song Of Exodus (part 2 of 4)

In the very next verse, we go on to read “He shot arrows and scattered them, lightning and routed them” (2 Samuel 22:15), which, in an exodus tinged worldview, could serve as an allusion to the movement of the pillar of cloud that served as a shield between Israel and Egypt.  We find written in Exodus that “The angel of God, who was going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.  It came between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp; it was a dark cloud and it lit up the night so that one camp did not come near the other the whole night” (14:19-20).  This, of course, took place as “the Lord drove the sea apart by a strong east wind all that night, and He made the sea into dry land, and the water was divided” (14:21b).  Here, we note that this is how the Scriptures describe the division of the sea, rather than our commonly-held misperception (however grand the vision may be) that there was an immediate dividing of the waters as “Moses stretched out his hand toward the sea” (14:21a).  With this said, we might rightly wonder if Moses had to keep his hand stretched “all that night,” in a way much like the story of Moses’ raised hands when Israel did battle with Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16). 

What follows from David’s mention of arrows and lightning?  He says, “The depths of the sea were exposed; the inner regions of the world were uncovered by the Lord’s battle cry, by the powerful breath of His nose” (22:16).  By speaking of the event of the parting of the waters, David has now ingeniously latched on to the single most demonstrative of the saving acts of the God of Israel.  In all honesty, who had ever heard of such a thing?  A known human being might as well have died and resurrected to physical life!  Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, there are numerous direct references to God’s parting of the sea, so we can be assured that it was looked upon, in the common consciousness of God’s people, as a seminal event in the courses of the histories of both Israel and the world.  Any reference to the Lord’s deliverance from Egypt would certainly bring to mind the crossing of the sea and the resulting defeat of the Egyptian army.  How is that defeat described?  It is written that “The Israelites went through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left” (14:22).  Again, this was after it had been pushed back by a strong east wind “all night.”  Seeing this, “The Egyptians,” perhaps observing this as something of a natural phenomenon, in an apparent forgetfulness of the plagues that they had experienced, “chased them and followed them into the middle of the sea” (14:23a). 

Some period of time after the Egyptians began giving chase, “In the morning watch the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He threw the Egyptian army into a panic.  He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving, and the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s flee from Israel, for the Lord fights for them against Egypt!’” (14:24-25)  However, before the army could complete their flight, having received instruction from the Lord, “Moses extended his hand toward the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state when the sun began to rise.  Now the Egyptians were fleeing before it,” with “it” being the water retreating back to its normal place, “but the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea… not so much as one of them survived” (14:27,28b). 

Following that, we are reminded that “the Israelites walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left” (14:29).  The repetition of this material about the dry ground and the walls of water serves to demonstrate just how powerful this act of God on behalf of His people was to be understood, both then and for all time.  This leads into language that describes an exodus within an exodus, as we then read “So the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians” (14:30a).  Israel was granted salvation in the midst of their salvation.  This would happen numerous times in their history, indicating to them and to us that a life of exodus is what God provides to His people and expects from His people, as they consistently acknowledge His saving power.  This is precisely what would then happen in Exodus, as “When Israel saw the great power that the Lord had exercised over the Egyptians, they feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses” (14:31). 

Now, why, in the midst of looking at the song of David in the second book of Samuel, even bearing in mind that we have gone to some length to demonstrate David’s desire to connect himself with Israel’s exodus story, have we taken up so much time and space by this inclusion of so much material directly from the fourteenth chapter of Exodus?  Well, it has to do with the verse just referenced, and with what comes next for David, as we reach the seventeenth verse in the chapter of the song of David.

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