Exodus 15:1 -
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spoke, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea” (Ex. 15:1).
Moses began and ended his wilderness life with a song. That of Deuteronomy, Chapter 32, is the one referred to in Revelation 15:3. There was no singing in Egypt; there was groaning. Singing only follows redemption.
The song portrayed in Chapter 15 of Exodus is the oldest song of praise in existence. The greatest poets unite in admiration of its surpassing beauty and sublimity. It is a song of praise. Its theme is Jehovah Jesus, one might say. It praises Him for His destruction of the enemy. It begins with redemption and ends with glory.
There were two companies of singers - one formed of men, led by Moses, the other of women, led by Miriam. She and her choir “answered the men.” This is the first of the 10 songs of praise recorded in the Bible; the last is Revelation 14:3.
“Self” is absent from this song. It is all about Jehovah and His power to save.
I WILL SING UNTO THE LORD
The first song recorded in the Bible is that of Lamech, but it certainly is not of the Lord, being a song that glorifies man’s inhumanity to his fellow man (Gen. 4:23-24).
This song recorded in Exodus, Chapter 15, celebrates the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage and glorifies the Lord who has done the delivering. It is the first song of praise and redemption simply because redemption had been carried out in type. The song was accompanied by tens of thousands of tambourines, i.e., “timbrels,” which were, no doubt, of every size and description. As well, tens of thousands of Israelite women—seemingly both young and old—danced before the Lord to the accompaniment of the musical instruments and the singing as they gave praise to the Lord for His great deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Consequently, as it is recorded in the Word of God, Moses wrote the very first gospel song, so to speak. He also wrote the very first psalm (Ps. 90). More than likely, he also wrote Psalm 91.
So, the very first thing we find after the salvation and redemption of the children of Israel is rejoicing. No wonder!
When a person comes to Christ (any person), joy fills the heart simply because the enmity between them and God, which was caused by sin, has now been removed due to the shed blood of Christ being applied to the heart and life. This is all done by faith (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9). So, this which the children of Israel did on the far shore of the Red Sea portrays the joy of the heart and the joy of the soul for what the Lord has done. It is the only true joy there is and the only true rejoicing there is.
This doesn’t mean that every new convert, or every Christian for that matter, has to sing and dance before the Lord, but it definitely does mean that there will be a rejoicing heart. That goes with salvation, and I really cannot see how in the world that anyone could come to Christ—which means to be “born again,” which means that they are now a new creation in Christ Jesus—and not have a rejoicing heart.
As well, we are told that there are seven major religions in the world. Although not a religion, but rather a relationship with Christ, still, Christianity is put in that category. It is the only one of the seven that has a songbook because it is the only one of the seven that has anything to sing about.
To show the reader how important the right kind of music and singing is as it regards the worship of the Lord, we need only to look at the book of Psalms, which is the largest book in the Bible. This tells us what the Holy Spirit thinks of worship, and it tells us how that the greatest degree of worship is found in music and singing. There are certainly other ways to worship God, but I think that the greatest way of all, or possibly that which the Holy Spirit uses more than all, is music and singing.
Music, as devised by the Lord, is made up of rhythm, melody, and harmony. If any one of those three is hindered, continuity is destroyed, and it becomes virtually impossible to worship the Lord by such music. So-called modern contemporary Christian music falls into that category. It may be referred to as “Christian,” but it is not Christian. While the flesh may respond to such music, it is impossible for the spirit of the individual to do so.
Most of these so-called Christian rock entertainers, and that’s what they are, look to the mainstream rockers as their examples, which, to be frank, is an abomination. The tragedy is, pastors will shepherd their young people into these so-called concerts, which have absolutely no spirituality, at least as it regards the Lord. In fact, to be blunt, clear, and plain, this particular type of music is of Satan. It’s not of God, it has never been of God, and it is abominable to even claim that it is. Pastors who promote such stuff are going to answer to God for the souls of the young people under their charge.
As we have already alluded, most of these so-called Christian groups get their inspiration from their worldly counterparts. Now, think about that for a moment, please! How in the world can someone be inspired by those who are controlled by demon spirits and still claim that what they’re doing is of the Lord? In fact, such is an abomination before the Lord.
To be frank, the name of that game is money. So-called Christian rock is to the secular rock music scene as methadone is to the drug scene.
Radio stations that refer to themselves as Christian and play that type of music are actually promoting the Devil. Christian television shows that feature such fall into the same category. To be sure, the owners of such stations, the deejays, and the pastors of churches who promote this stuff, or even who place their seal of approval on it, once again, are going to answer to God, and the answer is not going to be very favorable.
Exactly as secular rock music, all of its promotion of drugs, illicit sex, alcohol, and murder contain a spirit of darkness that joins with the spirit of those who listen to such so-called music. It is the same identical thing with the so-called Christian rock. There is a bondage to such music exactly as there is to alcohol, drugs, gambling, and nicotine.
WIN THE YOUTH?
Win them to what?
Ten years ago, it was claimed that such music would win young people to Christ. What a ridiculous statement that is! People are brought to Christ not by using the raw ways of the world, or any ways of the world for that matter, but rather by the Holy Spirit. To be sure, He not only doesn’t need the ways of the world, He absolutely rejects the ways of the world. So, anyone who would claim such a thing simply doesn’t know the Bible and has no knowledge of the Lord per se.
However, most now are not even claiming that such is winning youth to Christ, but rather that it’s “good clean entertainment.” While it might be entertainment, it’s definitely not good, and it’s definitely not clean. To be frank, there are almost as many drugs sold or used at these Christian rock concerts as in the secular concerts.
That particular type of music, if it can be called music, certainly doesn’t glorify God. To be frank, to even insinuate that it does is an insult to the Lord.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Some years ago, Frances and I were in Budapest, Hungary, in a particular church for a service. Not being able to speak or understand Hungarian, I had no idea of the words they were saying as it regarded the songs they were singing; however, I did recognize the melodies, and you could sense the presence of the Lord as the people were worshipping. While they sang in Hungarian, I sang the same song in English.
Just before the service was turned to me, they had a young man sing, who had just come from the United States. He got up and sang a particular song that he had learned in the states, which he had translated into Hungarian. It was one of the Christian rock songs. As stated, that particular music has no melody or harmony. As a result, the people just sat there and stared because there was nothing else they could do. As stated, it is impossible to worship with that type of music, and to be frank, who would want to try to worship with such being offered?
The people in the church little knew me, if at all, and I did not know them either. So, what I was seeing was not staged, but yet, was a perfect example of this of which I speak. As they sang the old songs of glory, they could worship the Lord simply because the songs were of the Lord. When the young man sang, presenting the garbage—and that’s exactly what it was—that he had learned in the states, they could not worship simply because worship to such is impossible. Those who claim they can worship the Lord according to such simply do not know what worship actually is.
THE SPIRITUAL BAROMETER
One can pretty well judge the spiritual barometer of a church by the type of music that it promotes. The Spirit of the Lord will portray Himself in this particular category of worship as He does in nothing else. As stated, the book of Psalms is the largest book in the Bible, telling us what the Holy Spirit thinks of worship according to music and singing. If, in fact, I am correct about music being a spiritual barometer, then the churches in the United States are in sad shape indeed! There are exceptions, and thank God for those exceptions, but they are few and far between.
UNTO THE LORD
The song that Moses sang—along with the children of Israel—was evidently given to him by the Lord. Immediately, it glorified the Lord, speaking of the great victory that He had brought about for the children of Israel. It began that way, and it ended that way.
I was either 8 or 9 years of age; the exact year slips my mind. At any rate, I had just been saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit a short time earlier. On a particular night in question, while in church and observing the evangelist as he played the piano, the Lord put it into my heart to seek Him as it regarded the talent to play that particular instrument. I can remember sitting beside my dad, and all through the service, asking the Lord for this particular talent. I remember very vividly some of the things I said to Him.
Being just a child, I knew very little about sin, but I remember promising the Lord that if He would give me this talent, I would forever use it for His glory. I also remember saying that I would never play in a nightclub. That is about the limit that I had of things of the world at that particular time.
I can still see myself sitting beside my dad. I can see myself praying, and once or twice, my whispering to the Lord must have become obvious because my dad looked at me and shook his head as if to say, “Be quiet.”
At any rate, I could hardly wait for the service to conclude. I had asked the Lord for this talent, and I believed in my heart with simple childlike faith that the Lord had heard me, and He would give me that for which I had asked.
When the service ended, I very hesitantly walked up onto the small platform. Our church was very small, and the musical complement consisted only of an old upright piano.
To my recollection, I had never sat down on a piano stool in my life. So, for the first time, I sat down and put my fingers on the keys. Immediately, I began to make chords. I did not know what the chords were, but I did know the finger positions were right because it sounded right to my ear.
After the service, my dad asked me where I had learned those chords, for, evidently, he had heard me. I shook my head in the negative and replied that I had not learned them anywhere. Ignoring what I had said, he asked me if I had been up to my aunt’s house, who had a piano, and if I had been playing her instrument.
“No,” I replied!
He then asked, “Has Sister Culbreth (our pastor’s wife, who was an excellent pianist) been showing you some chords?”
I again replied in the negative.
He then asked, “Well, have you been going to the church to practice?”
Once again, I replied “No!”
“Well, where did you learn those chords?” he asked.
I remember my reply as though this happened yesterday. I said, “I asked the Lord to give me the talent to play the piano, and I guess He has already started!”
I don’t recall what he said then, but I do remember that he very much approved of my request.
A GIFT FROM THE LORD
Some may remonstrate by saying that musical talent runs in my family, and the Lord had nothing to do with what talent I do have. While it is certainly true that musical talent definitely runs in my family, with two of my cousins being quite prominent in the musical field, still, I believe that the Lord gave me the talent that I have. Along with the talent to play the piano, I believe He also gave me an understanding of music that glorifies His name. Whatever style I have was not copied from anyone. The Lord gave it to me exactly as it is. With our music, we have seen literally millions of people blessed, stirred, encouraged, and strengthened in the Lord. Of course, I give Him all the praise and all the glory.
In respect to what I’ve just said about the Lord giving me a knowledge of music which glorifies Him, that doesn’t mean that for music to glorify the Lord, it has to be identical to the music that I play. That would be facetious, to say the least! But I definitely do believe that it will be somewhat similar.
Music is not neutral. It was originated by God. The Word of God tells us that when God created the Earth, “the morning stars (angels) sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7).
Once again, we go back to the book of Psalms and realize that in every one of the psalms and songs—for that’s what the word psalms actually means—the Holy Spirit gave the words, and even gave instructions to the writers of some of the psalms as to what type of musical instrumentation should accompany the psalm. When we realize this, we should then understand just how important music and singing actually are as it regards the worship of the Lord.
Over the SonLife Radio Network and the SonLife Broadcasting Network, we play only music that originates at Family Worship Center. Concerning this, a man wrote me the other day and stated, “Brother Swaggart, thank you so much for putting the station in our city (he was speaking of a radio station owned by the ministry). You are teaching us how to worship.”
I will confess that when I read his note, I was somewhat taken aback. But yet, after a moment, I realized that most churches have been so off track, regarding the worship of the Lord, for such a long time that they hardly know what true worship is anymore.
I’m certainly not meaning that this applies to all churches,
for it doesn’t; however, I definitely do believe that it applies to most. As we’ve already stated, music is a barometer, I think, of the spirituality of the church. When the spirituality begins to go wrong, which means the pastor and people are veering away from the Word of God, it will tell first of all in the music that they produce. So, when I make statements about music, I am, at least to a certain extent, making statements in the realm of revelation from the Lord. In other words, I know somewhat of that of which I speak. That’s at least one of the reasons I cannot stand to listen to modern so-called Christian rock, or whatever it is, which is nothing but a product of the flesh, and which only appeals to the flesh. Then I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit saying: “So then they who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).
That which we do as it regards anything done for the Lord, especially our worship as it regards music and singing, must glorify His name. As is portrayed to us here very clearly, this great song was sung by Moses and the children of Israel. I think we should conclude that the Holy Spirit would desire that we use this presentation as a foundation for our musical efforts. As we will see, the Lord is glorified throughout, with man glorified not at all.
“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” (Ex. 15:2).
The first phrase actually says in the Hebrew, “My strength and song is Jah.” In fact, the name Jah had not previously been used. It is commonly regarded as an abbreviated form of Jehovah. It takes the place of Jehovah here probably because of the rhythm of the song. The “salvation” addressed here refers to being delivered out of the hand of Pharaoh and his hosts; consequently, the children of Israel were saved from destruction.
We certainly should get an idea from this as to what the word salvation actually means. Without exception, it refers to what Jesus did for us in the giving of Himself on the Cross as a sacrifice. This satisfied the demands of a thrice-holy God and, thereby, delivers the sinner from the clutches of Satan because all sin has been atoned. As sin is the legal right that Satan has to hold man in bondage, with all sin atoned, Satan has lost his authority. So, an authority he presently exerts is a pseudo-authority. In other words, any sinner can turn to Christ if he so desires, and every bondage of sin will then be broken. Every Christian can look to Christ and the Cross, and whatever authority that Satan has exerted over him will quickly fade. It is all in the Word, as given by Paul: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Cor. 1:23).
“I will prepare Him an habitation,” probably means in the Hebrew, “I will glorify Him.” This is agreed upon by most of the Hebrew scholars.
Moses was remonstrating by using the phrase, “my father’s God,” that the Lord had given promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those promises had been kept in totality. Not one had fallen to the ground. As a result, Moses said, “I will exalt Him.”
The pronouns He, Him, Thy, Thou, and Thee, as they refer to the Lord, are found 33 times in this psalm! How significant and how searching is this! How entirely different from most modern hymnology! So many hymns today (if they deserve to be called hymns) are full of maudlin sentimentality instead of divine adoration. They announce our love to God instead of His love for us. They recount our experiences instead of His mercies. They tell more of human attainments instead of Christ’s atonement. As stated, it’s a sad index of our low state of spirituality! Different far was this song of Moses and Israel: “I will exalt Him,” sums it all up.
The first song of Scripture has been rightly designated the song of redemption, for it proceeded from the hearts of a redeemed people. From all of this, we find there are two parts to redemption. They are:
1. Redemption is by purchase, which speaks of what Christ did at the Cross.
2. Redemption is by power, which speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit that is made possible by the Cross of Christ.
Some believers get redemption and ransom confused. Ransoming is but a part of redemption. The two are clearly distinguished in Scripture.
It is said of Christ in Hosea 13:14: “I will ‘ransom’ them from the power of the grave; I will ‘redeem’ them from death.” Again we read: “For the Lord has ‘redeemed’ Jacob, and ‘ransomed’ him from the hand of him who was stronger than he” (Jer. 31:11).
Ransom is the payment of the price, which Jesus did at the cross. Redemption, of which ransom is but a part, in the full sense, is the deliverance of the persons for whom the price was paid. It is the latter that is obviously the all-important item. Of what use is the ransom if the captive be not released? Without actual emancipation, there will be no song of praise. Who would ever thank a ransomer who left him in bondage?
The Greek word for redemption is rendered “deliverance” in Hebrews 11:35.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus is pictured both as a “Lamb,” which refers to the purchaser, and as a “Lion,” which refers to the powerful emancipator.
On the Passover night, Israel was secured from the doom of the Egyptians. At the Red Sea, they were delivered from the power of the Egyptians. Thus delivered (redeemed), they sang. It is only a ransomed and redeemed people, conscious of their deliverance, who can really praise the Lord the deliverer.
Not only is worship impossible for those yet dead in trespasses and sins, but also intelligent worship cannot be rendered by professing Christians who are in doubt as to their standing before God, and necessarily so. Praise and joy are essential elements of worship, but how can those who question their experience in the Beloved, who are not certain whether they would go to heaven or hell should they die this moment, be joyful and thankful? It’s impossible!
Uncertainty and doubt beget fear and distrust and not gladness and adoration.