Exodus 15:11 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
THE CHARACTER OF GOD
Exo 15:11. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
EXALTED favours may well be repaid in devout acknowledgments: they are the least returns that we can make to our heavenly Benefactor: and so reasonable is this tribute, that persons who are far enough removed from solid piety, will, under a sense of recent obligations, often cordially unite in paying it to the God of their salvation. The hymn before us was composed by Moses, on occasion of the deliverance vouchsafed to Israel at the Red Sea: and it was sung by all the Israelites, probably by the men and women in an alternate and responsive manner, Miriam leading the women, and, together with them, accompanying the song with timbrels and dances [Note: 0, 21.]. It is the most ancient composition of the kind, that is extant in the world. The two first verses are a kind of preface, declaring the occasion, and the inspired penman’s determination to celebrate it [Note: Somewhat like that in Psa 45:1.]. The mercy then is stated in a most animated manner; and afterwards, its effects, both immediate and remote, are circumstantially predicted. But, between the statement of the mercy and its effects, is introduced an apostrophe, addressed to the Deity himself, and ascribing to him the glory due unto his name. To this portion of the hymn we would now direct your more particular attention. It declares that God is,
To be admired for his holiness—
God is essentially and supremely holy—
[He is not only called, by way of eminence, “The Holy One,” but this attribute is said exclusively to belong to him; “Thou only art holy.” As for the gods of the heathen, many of them were no other than deified monsters, patrons of lewdness, of theft, of drunkenness, and every kind of iniquity: and among the rest there was not found even the smallest semblance of real universal holiness. Well therefore might the challenge be made in reference to this, “Who among the gods is like unto thee, O Lord?” This attribute is, in fact, the crown of all the other attributes of the Deity; for, without it, no other perfection could be either amiable in itself or worthy of the Supreme Being. But, without entering into the general view of this subject, we need only look at the “wonders done” on this occasion; and there we shall see a display of this attribute in its most striking colours. Behold his indignation against sin, how it burned against the oppressors of his people, and the contemners of his authority! The very elements themselves were made to rise against the proud associates in iniquity, and to execute upon them the vengeance they deserved — — —]
For this he is greatly to be admired and glorified—
[No other perfection more attracts the attention of all the glorified saints and angels in heaven, than this [Note: Compare Isa 6:3 with Rev 4:8.]. And, notwithstanding it is hateful and terrific to impenitent sinners, it is an object of the highest admiration amongst those who have learned to appreciate it aright. David was altogether enraptured with it [Note: Psa 99:3; Psa 99:5; Psa 99:9.] ; and every real saint will “give thanks at the remembrance of it [Note: Psa 30:4. See an animated description of their imbecility, Jer 10:3-7.] ” — — —]
Whilst he is thus admired for his unspotted holiness, he is also,
To be feared for his power—
God is a God of unrivalled power—
[The gods of the heathen cannot hear, or see, or move: but the power of Jehovah is infinite. What less than omnipotence could have performed the “wonders” which are here celebrated? See how easily the expectations of his enemies were disappointed, and their bloody purposes were frustrated, by one blast of his displeasure [Note:, 10. The picture here is highly finished. The amplification in the former verse, and the conciseness of the latter, form a beautiful contract; whilst the image that closes the description, strongly marks the completeness of the judgment executed.] ! — — —]
For this he is greatly to be feared—
[For this exercise of his power indeed he was praised; as well he might be for such a merciful and complete deliverance. But it may truly be said, that he is “fearful in praises [Note: The last clause of the text may be understood as limiting and illustrating the two that precede it. Compare Luk 1:49.]:” for this display of his power clearly shews, that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Accordingly we find, that the inspired writers generally make this improvement of God’s omnipotence, and suggest it as a motive to reverence his majesty, to regard his will, and to tremble at his displeasure [Note: Psa 89:6-8; Heb 12:28-29; Deu 28:58-59.] — — —]
We may learn from hence,
How the mercies of God are to be improved—
[All of us have experienced mercies in abundance: and from them we may obtain the brightest discoveries of our God. O what displays of power, of goodness, and of truth, might all of us behold, if we called to mind the various deliverances which God has wrought out for us, and especially that redemption which was prefigured by the history before us! The connexion between the two is expressly marked by God himself; and we are told, what a mixture of admiration and reverence, of love and fear, a just view of these miracles of mercy will assuredly create [Note: Rev 15:3-4.]. Let them then produce these effects on us; and let us now begin, what we hope to continue to all eternity, “the song of Moses and the Lamb.”]
How every attempt against him or his people shall surely issue—
[Here we see a lively representation of the final issue of every contest which man shall enter into with his Maker. The forbearance of God may be long exercised; and his enemies may appear for a time to have gained their point: but in due time, hell shall open wide its jaws to swallow them up, and they shall become the wretched victims of their own impiety. Against God and his Church, there is no device, no counsel that shall stand.
His Church is founded on a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it The enemies of our souls may follow us even to the last moment of our lives; but when the appointed moment is arrived for the completion of all God’s promises to us, our souls shall be freed from every assault, and “death and hell, with all their adherents, be cast into the lake of fire [Note: Rev 20:14.].”]
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.