As Christians, we know that all Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for mankind (2 Timothy 3:16). So whenever we come to Scripture, it’s actually really important for us to slow down and pay close attention. Yet sometimes when we read God’s Word, and we notice that an idea is repeated, it’s easy to skim over that part and say, “Okay, okay. Yes – I’ve heard that before. Let’s move on to something new.”
Does this sound like you?
If you can relate to this, be warned! Reading the Bible like this isn’t just unhelpful. It’s dangerous. When God repeats something, he’s not saying it again because He temporarily ran out of new content. God often repeats ideas to emphasize their importance (i.e., “Holy, holy, holy,” in Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8).
So when we see a repeated idea, we shouldn’t speed up and fly past the text. We should be all the more careful to slow down and ask – why is this idea so important to God? And by extension, why should this passage be important to us?
Recently I noticed one of those refrains that is repeated throughout Scripture:
“The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”—Exodus 15:2
“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”—Psalm 118:14
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”—Isaiah 12:2
And in Revelation 15:3, we see that those who have conquered the beast are standing by the sea and singing the song of Moses (which is almost definitely the song that includes Exodus 15:2, noted above).
So this repeated refrain is significant for us to hear: The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. And it’s good for us to consider God’s words here thoughtfully.
The LORD Is My Strength
First we need to grapple with The LORD is my strength. This is not only a general confession of God’s strength. This is a personal confession of our weakness to save ourselves from our enemies. Our emotions are often subject to the tyranny of depression and anxiety. Our minds are often oppressed by the onslaught of doubt or cynicism. Our will is bombarded by the enemy of sinful desires. And with the global spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks, many people have been joltingly reminded of their physical powerlessness before Death.
Until you see your manifold frailties, the LORD’s strength will seem unimportant or irrelevant. But the LORD’s strength is, in fact, the only strength that matters. Either you will fall to your enemies by the weakness of your own efforts, or you will depend on the LORD to decisively bring victory by His incomparable strength. You will not have merited victory, or contributed to it, but will realize with joy that God has chosen to use His strength for you rather than against you. This is good news, indeed.
The LORD Is My Song
Thus, “The LORD is my song,” too, is a personal confession of sorts. You’re confessing that God alone deserves credit and acclaim from your lips. Because the refrain does not say, “The LORD and my own awesomeness is my song.” You may often experience the victories of God – getting the job you prayed for, being providentially spared from a health emergency, or being granted the ability to resist temptation to sin – but the song on your lips directs recognition to the wrong person. “Wow, I really nailed that interview.” “Whoa, I’m glad that I’m coordinated and was able to catch myself before I fell.” You get the idea.
So today you may need to let the double-edged sword of God’s word pierce your conscience and reveal your unbelief. Will you really try to take credit for the abilities that God has given to you? Don’t you realize that all prosperity and peace is impossible unless it comes from the gracious hand of God?
In this respect, we are not kings. We are servants. And as our king fights on our behalf and wins victories for his people, He is the one who deserves the festival and celebration. So let us sing, but not of our own deeds. Let us sing of the one who delivers us from the bondage of slavery and leads us safely through God’s judgment (context of Exodus 15). Let us sing of him who opens to us the gate of righteousness (context of Psalm 118) Let us sing of him who will gather and restore God’s exiled people from among all the nations (context of Isaiah 12). And let us sing of him who definitively and finally will deliver us from evil (context of Revelation 15).
The LORD Has Become My Salvation
Though we may confess, “The LORD is my strength and my song,” there are many days when you will not feel that these statements are true. There will be days when you do not feel strong. There will be days when you feel joyless and songless. Your days will be marked with great hardship. Your enemies will seem to be succeeding. You will be weary, discouraged, fearful, or worried.
Yet even when our present life circumstances are uncertain and unstable, our confidence is rooted in the finished work of Christ to secure freedom, righteousness, restoration, and deliverance for His people. The LORD has become my salvation. Everyone who is in Christ can be reassured – your salvation has already come about. It is a finished work with results continuing in the present and culminating at the future return of Christ. Regardless of how desperate your circumstances are, you aren’t waiting for hope to show up. Victory is certain. Your eternal joy cannot be lost. The LORD has become your salvation.
So when we realize that we lack strength, let us recognize the LORD as our strength. When we’re tempted to boast in ourselves, let us turn from pride and recognize the LORD as our song. And when the tornadoes of life come, let us find refuge in the foundation of our faith: The LORD has become our salvation.
Devon Rossman is a Pastoral Assistant at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Kalamazoo, MI. He is currently working toward an M. Div. at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI. In his position at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, Devon is training to become a prospective church planter.