In an interview with Christianity Today, Matt Redman, a British worship leader and songwriter, gave a definition of worship that could have come directly from today’s reading in Exodus 15: “Worship is about revelation and response.”
We know that God had already announced to Moses that the Israelites would worship Him once they left Egypt (cf. 3:12). He didn’t intend their worship to be restricted to this singular occasion. Worship should be God’s people’s natural response, woven into the fabric of their everyday life.
Confusion and arguments often fill conversations about worship, specifically about styles of worship songs. Some people are adamant that traditional hymns are far superior to contemporary worship music; others say that they like more contemporary rhythms and melodies. From Exodus 15, we won’t settle that question, but we will identify important elements for the content of our worship songs.
Notice that Moses’ worship song has God as its primary subject. The song declares who God is and what God has done. The song narrates in great detail how the Israelites have been saved by God. He has defeated their enemy. His power and strength are unparalleled. The Israelites use this spectacular display of God’s power to tell what He’s like. It is a celebration of God’s divine attributes.
This song of worship looks forward as much as it looks back. It speaks confidently about the future of the Israelites (vv. 13–18). If God has defeated the Egyptians, He’ll do the same with the Canaanites and the other peoples the Israelites will face. They believe that He will fulfill His promises to them, and their worship is an expression of hope and trust.
Moses teaches us what true worship is. Worship isn’t just feeling good about God and celebrating our affection for Him. Worship calls us to tell about God’s character and then respond with thanksgiving, with praise, with hope.