These words are part of an outburst of national song, the triumphant song of God’s chosen people when they, by God’s strength, escaped from the tyranny of Egypt, and found themselves a redeemed, free, delivered people. The Lord has continued to exercise His triumphant power in the Christian Church. The standard of spiritual life in individual Christians at the present day warrants the expectations which have been awakened by the first promises of the Gospel. It is possible to look at this in two or three aspects.
I. The thought of God’s triumphs as a man of war seems to be valuable as giving in its degree a proof of the truth of Holy Writ. The moral expectations raised by our Lord’s first Sermon on the Mount are being actually realised in many separate souls now. The prayer for strength to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh is becoming daily more visibly proved in the triumph of the Spirit, in the individual lives of the redeemed.
II. The triumphs of the Lord in the individual hearts among us give an increasing hope for unity throughout Christendom. We cannot deny the debt we owe to the labours of Nonconformists in the days of the Church’s lethargy and neglect. We cannot join them now, but we are preparing for a more close and lasting union, in God’s own time, by the individual progress in spiritual things.
III. We must do our part to set our seal to the triumphant power of Divine grace.—It is the half-lives of Christians which are such a poor proof of the truth of our Lord’s words. They do not begin early enough; they do not work thoroughly enough. We have the promise that this song shall be at last on the lips of all who prevail, for St. John tells us in the Revelation that he saw those who had overcome standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
(1) ‘While the Lord was leading His own people in the light, helping them on, He was making it hard for their enemies. It makes a world of difference with us on which side of God we are. From one side love flows; from the other wrath bursts. A great fortress in war times is a protection to some, but only to those who are inside its walls. Those outside find no such protection from it.’
(2) ‘A German officer, after the Franco-German war, heard a certain air. “Ah!” he exclaimed, “We were commanded to cross the bridge. It was swept by the enemies’ fire. The men were baffled. Suddenly the band began that air, and the men plucked up heart in a moment, rushed across and carried all before them.” A fearless spirit is already half-way to victory. Nothing makes the heart so strong as confidence in a strong leader. Moses bids them remember “Jehovah is a man of war.” All the following verses describe His puissance. It was that thought which made Israel strong. When he remembered it, he conquered. When he forgot it, he was chased by his foes.’
(3) ‘When Augustine of Hippo began to use the Psalms after his spiritual awakening, he says, “Oh, what accents did I utter unto Thee in those Psalms, and how was I by them kindled towards Thee, and on fire did rehearse them!” (“Confessions,” Bk. IX, 8.) Have you ever felt anything like that? Besides offering praise to God in the congregation, we should never be shamed to own to friends and companions “what God has done for us.” ’