Continuing our look at the Song of Moses, which the people of Israel sang after the miracle at the Red Sea (see Ex. 14:1–15:18), we come today to the portion of the hymn that describes the fall of Egypt’s army in great detail. Exodus 15:4–10 looks at the actual experience of the Egyptian army in the waters of the sea and at the hand of God. This poetic description of what happened to Pharaoh’s soldiers makes it plain that the Lord alone was behind the destruction of Egypt’s forces.
Moses describes the Lord as casting “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host” into the Red Sea (v. 4). Eyewitnesses to the event would not have been able to discern this with the naked eye, but the choice to head into the sea was not the Egyptian army’s alone. We saw in 14:4 that it came from the Lord’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and 15:4 emphasizes God’s role in this by using phrases that seem to speak of the Lord’s actually picking up the army and hurling it into the deep sea. In His mysterious providence, the Lord both raises up and destroys the adversaries of His people (see also Hab. 1:5–11; 2:6–3:16).
Exodus 15:6 attributes the Lord’s victory to His “right hand,” a common biblical metaphor for the power and protection of God (e.g., Pss. 20:6; 98:1; Isa. 48:13). As a brief aside, that helps us see the significance of Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). Our Savior sits at a place of power and is able to accomplish the Lord’s purposes for His people without fail as He reigns in might over “all rule and authority and power and dominion” (see Eph. 1:15–23). The Song of Moses itself makes clear that the works of God’s mighty right hand are often seen in natural phenomena. When the Lord moved to shatter the Egyptians by His right hand, the wind blew and the waters came over them (Ex. 15:6, 8–10).
God is the mighty Divine Warrior who fights for the sake of His people, and He treats attacks on His people as attacks on Himself. We see this in verses 9–10 when the Lord fights back against Egypt even though Egypt was directly assaulting Israel, not the Lord. When the foes of the church rise up against us, however, they are ultimately rising up against God, and doom will be their end if they do not turn back from the attack. John Calvin comments, “God’s majesty is violated by the wicked, whenever His Church, whose safety He has undertaken to preserve by His faithful patronage, is assailed by them.”