Text For The Month / Monatsspruch
Texts for the months of June and July 2016
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Exodus 15.2
What do we think of when we hear the word “strength”? Muscles may come to mind or special abilities like listening, talking, organising or playing an instrument, being good at a craft. Knowledge of a special subject or the connections to important people may be strengths. Writing or poetry, leadership, hospitality, ... - it can be a long list. What is our own strength?
This verse from the Old Testament is part of a song by Moses and the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea. Moses didn’t claim to be a great orator. Quite the contrary, as he tried to wiggle out of God’s calling pointing out that he has “never been eloquent. ... I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4.10). He was already 80 years old when he was called and he had lost all the good connections to the Pharaoh when he killed an Egyptian 40 years earlier. A modern Human Resources head-hunter might not have considered him for the job of leading God’s people out of Egypt and of slavery. He himself didn’t think he had the strength to do it.
But he found he didn’t need his own power and ability.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
He knew he needed help. He found that help when he relied on God. It was not always plain sailing. His people, too, had their doubts whether he could deliver the promise of freedom. This is understandable, when you consider the case strictly in terms of human possibilities. The Egyptians were more numerous, better equipped and trained to fight. What could Moses set against that?
Modern scholars doubt the historical accuracy of this story. The song, that Moses and his people sing, continues after our verse to praise God for drowning Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea. So far the ancient Egyptian sources have not mentioned anything like it. Perhaps the story has been embellished over some centuries before it took the shape it has today.
But does that make it untrue? The authors were not concerned about historical accuracy. They wanted to point out that there is God who can help against all the odds. That is what they wanted to bring across as clearly as they could. They had faith and observed God’s help in their life. So they put their personal experience in bold words into this story, so that everyone should understand where to get help in desperate situations. They wrapped their encounter with God in such a gripping story, that thousands of years later Jews and Christians draw hope from these words. They made it a song of salvation, still saving from despair today. That is a strength that makes the heart sing. We can still find God’s strength in the songs of the Psalms. May God give us this strength, be our strength today, so we too can sing the hopeful happy song of being helped by him!
For miracles one has to pray;
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