Reflecting on Exodus 15 11-21

Do we ourselves ever share in the celebration and the praise expressed in the “Song of the Sea”? Or does that event seem remote to us, like a story we hear, but that doesn’t have much to do with us? This might be the central question to ask of Exodus 15:11-21, the text we are studying for Sunday, September 5. [Some notes on the text are here.] But here are a couple of additional questions about the text that we might want to think about as we consider how we respond to this text:

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What impression of God do these verses give us? How does that picture of God compare to our usual picture of God? That is, in what ways is this picture similar to ours? In what ways different? What impact does this picture of God have on us? Why is that, do we think?

If we thought about God more often in the ways this text describes, how would it change our relationship with God, do we think? How do we think we would like that? Why?

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Much of the song exults at the defeat or the demoralization of Israel’s enemies. Do we think of ourselves as having enemies – is this part of the situation in the text something we can relate to personally? How do we feel about that?

What role does the neutralization of the enemies seem to play in the celebration and praise being expressed here? Does the sense of being imperiled, and then rescued, contribute to the rejoicing in this song, do we think?

Does this imply that peril is somehow positive, do we think? Or, are there other ways to cultivate enthusiastic gratitude, other than being in peril? What might those be?

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In verse 20-21, Miriam and the women celebrate with singing and dancing – that is, with physical movement. When we think of worship, do we think of something “physical”? Why, or why not, do we think? How would our own worship be different if it were more physical – for instance, involved more movement? What would we like about that, do we think? What would we not like? What would change, do we think? Would that be a change for the better? Why do we think that?

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Overall, we may want to pay particular attention to the way this text outlines and describes a worship occasion, and think about whether this feels like a model of worship to us. And if not, why not. And think about whether this worship has any implications for our own worship.

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Degas painting of woman in red hat and man in conversation over papers on a table

Image: “The Conversation,” Edgar Degas, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

2 responses to “Reflecting on Exodus 15 11-21”

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