Crossing the Red Sea
(10) (Give thanks) to him who struck Egypt with regard to their firstborn – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (11) …and brought Israel out from their midst – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (12) …with a strong hand and outstretched arm – for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (13) (Give thanks) to him who divided the Red Sea in two parts – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (14) …and made Israel pass through the midst of it – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (15) …but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea – for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (16) (Give thanks) to him who led his people through the wilderness – for his steadfast love (endures) forever.
The only repetition in this segment, apart from the refrain found in every verse of the psalm, is the double mention of “the Red Sea” (vss. 13 & 15). The first instance describes the miraculous parting of the waters by which Yahweh delivered his chosen nation. In this way he gave them a dry path on the seabed so they could cross over to the other side. The second instance relates how Yahweh drowned the pursuing armies of Pharaoh by causing the sea to flow back into its normal confines once the Israelites had passed.
Giving thanks to Yahweh
- for delivering Israel from bondage in Egypt (10-12)
- for saving Israel and then destroying the Egyptians (13-15)
- for leading his people through the wilderness (16)
Because Yahweh delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage and safely led them through the Red Sea and the wilderness, he is worthy of praise.
The authors of the Old Testament frequently refer to the spectacular parting of the Red Sea as one of the most convincing proofs in Israel’s history of Yahweh’s ability to save his people. As the psalm points out, this miracle accomplished two great purposes. First, it was the means by which God delivered his people from the Egyptians who had enslaved them for hundreds of years. At the same time it was the means by which God punished the Egyptians by drowning their army, one of the greatest military forces of its day.
The authors of the New Testament frequently refer to another great miracle that similarly accomplished two notable purposes in the plan of God. However, this miracle is quite distinct from the parting of the Red Sea. It took place on a hill called Calvary when God’s Son died on a Roman cross. While those who witnessed that event thought it to be the mere execution of a convicted criminal and a tragic end to Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, it was, in reality, a deliverance of a far greater magnitude than the parting of the Red Sea.
By his death, Jesus delivered us from God’s judgment for our sins by bearing in his body all our guilt and shame. And then, by his death, he utterly defeated Satan and his evil hosts by triumphing over them. Paul in Colossians gives us these statements: “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:13-15). First at the Red Sea and then at Calvary, our mighty God delivered his chosen ones while at the same time destroying our enemies. What a great and powerful God we serve!