Recent trials in my life have brought many scriptures to mind containing inspired songs God has given to the saints in times of trouble, times of extreme need, times of battle, wilderness times, fiery furnace times, and prison times. There were happy occasions, solemn, momentous occasions, and celebratory occasions, where God inspired jubilation and praise or repentance and lamentation.

The times of inspiration certainly did not stop with the Bible stories. Down through the history of Christianity, it has been the songs—the songs, the songs!—that have memorialized the saints in their trials and triumphs. In this issue we will highlight a few of them and the stories behind them. It is my fervent prayer that the studies of these songs will prove a great blessing to the people of God in this last quarter of 2020.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck

OCTOBER 4, 2020
THE SONGS OF MOSES (Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32)

The Song of Triumph at the Red Sea

Exodus 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.

The Last Song of Moses

Deuteronomy 32:1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:

3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.

4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?

9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.

43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

MEMORY VERSE: The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. —Exodus 15:2 and Deuteronomy 32:4

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The song of Moses and the children of Israel after the Lord delivered them at the Red Sea is a song of deliverance and a prophecy of God’s future plans for His people. Moses’ final song contains three main thoughts: the faithfulness of God contrasted with the faithlessness of Israel; the necessary chastisement by God; and God’s mercy and compassion upon the humbled condition of His people.


Exodus 15:1 “Then sang Moses”: “This song is the most ancient we know of. It is a holy song, to the honour of God, to exalt his name, and celebrate his praise, and his only, not in the least to magnify any man. Holiness to the Lord is in every part of it. It may be considered as typical, and prophetical of the final destruction of the enemies of the church” (Matthew Henry). “This song is, by some hundred years, the oldest poem in the world” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).

Exodus 15:2 “I will prepare him an habitation”: possibly, “I will build him a sanctuary,” but some commentators connect the verb with a root meaning “beautiful,” and translate, “I will glorify him,” or “I will declare his beauty and his praise.” Whether it alludes to the tabernacle soon to be built or looks farther ahead to the times of the Messiah when His people would be His sanctuary and be filled with His glory and beauty, both meanings would be prophetic of the worship and praise of Jehovah. “My father’s God”: translated as both “my God is my Father” and “my forefathers’ God.”

Exodus 15:3 “Man of war”: the hero of the battle; a heavily armed soldier. This term has been used for powerful warships from the 16th to the 19th centuries, which were equipped with as many as 124 cannons. The name is also used for a venomous siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together. The Portuguese man-of-war gets the name from the uppermost of its four polyps, which floats above the water and resembles the ancient warship at full sail. The man-of-war’s second organism consists of long, thin tendrils which dangle below in the water, averaging thirty feet long. These are covered in venom-filled nematocysts, which kill and paralyze fish and other small creatures. These examples illustrate the deep meaning of “man of war.” Our God is almighty, all-powerful, and His weapons are deadly to His enemies!

Exodus 15:12 “The earth swallowed them”: “It is very likely there was also an earthquake on this occasion, and that chasms were made in the bottom of the sea, by which many of them were swallowed up, though multitudes were overwhelmed by the waters, whose dead bodies were afterward thrown ashore. The psalmist strongly intimates that there was an earthquake on this occasion (Psalm 77:18): ‘The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook’” (Clarke’s Commentary).

Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock” (or, simply, “The Rock!”): origin; fountain source; first cause. Used four times in this song. “No such combination of all the words for uprightness, sincerity, equity, and reliability is to be found elsewhere in all Scripture. This is the character of the Rock. This name of God (Tzur) is one of the characteristics of the song. The word occurs first in Exodus 17, where the Rock in Horeb was smitten; ‘and that Rock was Christ.’ ” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

Deuteronomy 32:9 “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance”: “The men who welcome the divine love that goes through the whole world… and who therefore lovingly yield to the loving divine will, and take it for their law—these are the men whom He regards as His ‘portion’ and ‘the lot of His inheritance.’ So that ‘God is mine’, and that ‘I am God’s’, are two ends of one truth; ‘I possess Him,’ and ‘I am possessed by Him,’ are but the statement of one fact expressed from two points of view” (MacLaren’s Expositions). “What an astonishing saying! As holy souls take God for their portion, so God takes them for his portion” (Clarke’s Commentary).

Deuteronomy 32:10 “He led him about”: the journey of Israel through the wilderness.


The details surrounding the first song in our lesson are found in Exodus 12, 13, and 14. God gave special preparation instructions to Israel before the tenth and final plague. The ritual of killing a lamb and painting the lintel and doorposts with its blood, cleansing the home of all leaven, and eating unleavened bread with the roast lamb and bitter herbs, was to be perpetuated as an annual feast—its establishment even created a new calendar for the Israelites. The people of God were to be packed and ready to travel as they anticipated the events of that final night.

At midnight the angel of death struck the land of Egypt, and every house which did not have the protection of blood was stricken with death of the firstborn. Even the firstborn of the beasts were killed. Pharaoh ordered Moses and Aaron to take the people of Israel, with their flocks and herds, and get out of Egypt. The Egyptian people urged them on, heaping them with gifts of gold, silver, jewels and clothing. They marched, six hundred thousand men, with women and children, on foot, led by a towering plume of cloud which turned into a glowing flame at night.

God led them around the warlike Philistine country to the wilderness at the bank of the Red Sea, surrounded on each side by mountains. There God warned Moses that Pharaoh would soon pursue after them. Sure enough, the people began to panic as they heard the approaching Egyptians. Moses stretched out his rod over the sea, assuring the people, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” All that night God sent an east wind that blew the stream into towering walls on either side. The pillar of fire removed and stood between the Egyptians and the Israelite camp, giving light to His people and darkness to their enemies. The Israelites began to move into the dry path God provided through the sea.

As they successfully made it to the other side, the Egyptians moved in to cross as well, and the scripture says that God looked through His towering, fiery shield at them and troubled their army, causing the wheels to fall off their chariots. They desperately tried to escape, but the Lord closed in the waters around them, and “there remained not so much as one of them.” As Moses and the people viewed the dead Egyptians washing up on the shore, Moses broke out into this triumphant song, ending with the grand finale, “The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.”

The song in Deuteronomy 32 describes first of all the character of God; the doctrine and gospel of His Word is the purest nutritive substance, as compared here to dew that is distilled upon the grass. His perfection, holiness, and deliverance are the theme of this last song, as they were in the first song.

Between verses 5 and 14, Moses tells of God’s tender, loving care over Israel, using the example of an eagle nurturing and training its young. Verses 15-33 describe the character and the iniquity of the people, using a rebellious horse as an illustration. Israel’s great apostasy is set forth in detail as a totally conditional prediction, only fulfilled in those who did not receive the warning. Verse 17 equates the idols they worshipped with demons.

In the 21st verse God foretells that the Gentiles would move Israel to jealousy by accepting Christ and coming into favor with the One the Israelites had rejected; this verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 10:19. In verse 27, He predicts the reaction of Israel’s enemies, who, when they had conquered, would acknowledge that their own might had not overthrown God’s people; God Himself had done it. It may be noted that Titus, upon destroying Jerusalem in its final overthrow, was so amazed at the strength of the city, he “acknowledged that if God had not delivered it into his hands, the Roman armies never could have taken it” (Clarke’s Commentary).

The end of the song speaks of the mercy God would show His people, the avenging of the enemies who had spoiled his people, and the great mercy He would show the Gentiles through the gospel. Verse 43 is applied in Romans 15:9-10.

God spoke this song through Moses as he and Joshua stood in the door of the tabernacle with the pillar of cloud above them. When Moses was finished with the song, and the Levites had written it in a scroll, he commanded them to keep it with the ark of the covenant as a witness of God’s judgments. Afterward he gave a blessing to the tribes of Israel and then left them, going up onto Mount Pisgah, where God showed him the grand vistas of Canaan before he died. There in those mountains God buried Moses, His servant, one hundred and twenty years old, a prophet like no one has known, “whom the LORD knew face to face.”

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Give a short summary of the events preceding the first song in our lesson.
  2. What Divine purpose for God’s people was mentioned three times in the song?
  3. In Moses’ last song, what title for God is mentioned in verses 4, 15, 18, and 31?
  4. What bird is used to illustrate God’s care for his people?
  5. What prophecy is made concerning the Gentiles?


Do you notice a theme in the songs of Moses? Besides the common theme of God’s leadership and care for His people, it is God’s holiness and power, as a golden line, that threads its way through both of these songs.

In Revelation 15, the holy saints of God who stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire, holding harps and rejoicing with victory over the beast, sing “the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

“It is in the moments of highest inspiration, under the fullest manifestation of God’s redeeming power, that His servants speak of His Holiness” (Holy in Christ by Andrew Murray). How amazing that from beginning to end, God’s plan for mankind is never separated from His holiness and His judgments. As we continue our study, let us look for this same theme being repeated down through the ages in the songs of the saints.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire

Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire;

Let us Thine influence prove:

Source of the old prophetic fire,

Fountain of life and love.

Come, Holy Ghost, for moved by Thee;

The prophets wrote and spoke;

Unlock the truth, Thyself the key;

Unseal the sacred Book.

Expand Thy wings, celestial Dove,

Brood o’er our nature’s night;

On our disordered spirits move,

And let there now be light.

God, through Himself, we then shall know

If Thou within us shine,

And sound with all Thy saints below,

The depths of love divine.

“‘Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire’ by Charles Wesley uses two Scripture passages: the very first biblical reference to the Holy Spirit and one of the last. In Genesis 1:2, we find the Spirit involved in creation, hovering over the surface of the waters. The earth has just been described as formless and empty, but the Spirit oversees the ordering of our world. Light shines in the next verse, at God’s command, and the rest of the chapter details the molding of a creation that God pronounced ‘good.’

“Toward the end of the New Testament, 2 Peter 1:19-21 urges readers to pay attention to the word of the prophets, like a lamp shining in a dark place. The prophets, Peter says, were not just making this stuff up. No, they were inspired by God, moved by the Holy Spirit.

“As usual, Charles Wesley has woven solid theology into his hymn. The Spirit brings order out of our chaos. He shines light into our dark places. He often does this through the scriptures. He unlocks the truth spoken by the ancient prophets so it makes sense in modern times.”

The Complete Book of Hymns, by W. J. Petersen and Ardythe Petersen

—Selected by Bro. Harlan Sorrell

Click here to listen to “Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire,” sung to the tune, “Old Winchester.”