Exodus 15:1-21 is an interesting study on a congregational worship event. At first glance, one could say, “Wait, verse one calls this a song which Moses and the Israelites sang together”. True. However, there is plenty of historical evidence that “songs” or “psalms” in Old Testament times were responsorial in nature. That means that a leader would sing one section and then the congregation would respond with another section and the pattern went back and forth. So, it is reasonable to believe that this was the case in Exodus 15. That could be the reason there were changes in direction – horizontal and vertical – in what appears to be one song.
Reading the content carefully, the event actually began with the “Call to Worship” section found in verse 21. Then, the remaining expressions come from verses 1-18. If we break the thoughts down into separate “songs”, we discover a very logical and effective song set.
Song #1 (again) was Miriam’s Call to Worship , horizontal in nature (v 21)
Song #2 was a testimony song, horizontal in nature. (v 1-2)
Song #3 was a declaration song about who God is and what he has done, also horizontal in nature (v 3-5)
Song #4 was a worship song directed to God about what he has done, vertical in nature. Some would call it “praise” because it is about God’s actions rather than his nature per se (v 6-10)
Song #5 was also a worship song directed to God about who he is, vertical in nature (v 11-12)
Song #6 was a proclamation song, vertical in nature. The tone is prophetic and “preaches”. One could hear an option for a sermon at this point. (v 13-17)
Song #7 was a closing song, horizontal in nature (v 18). This is a logical choice. A horizontal song has more of that “processional”, “let’s get ready to go back into the world” tone. The focus on the character of God makes it declarative in nature.
Let me close with two additional comments about the worship event of Exodus 15.
1) There is a clear thematic focus throughout. 2) God was the subject and object of most of the content, with only three “I will” phrases. We appreciate your Comments