After having gone through so much, and with such an exclamation point with the parting of the waters, the people of Israel have a song of praise to sing to God. This song, found in verses 1-18, contains many of the hallmarks of the Lord’s care that have been examined in Exodus:
- Utter domination of the enemies of the Lord
- Special favor shown to His people, the Israelites
- The Lord is singular and glorious
- The Lord is powerful yet merciful
- The surrounding peoples are witness to His power
- The reign of the Lord is everlasting
This first long song of praise is followed by a short one from Miriam, Moses’ sister. She is described as a prophetess. She is not the only female prophet in the Bible, but she is one of the few. Her song of praise is moving in its simplicity. She would have likely been a very close observer of the events of the ten plagues that led to their escape.
The Israelites do have faith in God, one that is not easily shaken. But faith in the knowledge of His existence is one thing; absolute surety in the face of adversity that He will continue to care for them is quite another. The Israelites prove the difference when they come upon bitter waters. The waters are not described to be undrinkable or unfit for human consumption – their only complaint appears to be with the bitter taste of the water. When Moses cried out to the Lord over the peoples’ issue with the water, the Lord showed Moses a tree. Once Moses cast the tree into the water, the water became sweet.
This minor miracle is notable because it demonstrates the Israelites’ inability (even at this early stage of their long walk with God in the wilderness) to be content. Yes, the water was bitter, but it was water, that particular liquid needed to sustain life. They could not just be happy that there was water. But God still gave them what they wanted. This again demonstrates His great love. The tree falling into the water was not what completed the miracle, but rather it was a sign to them that helped them to believe that a miracle had taken place.
Then God tells them that He will not allow them to get the diseases that He gave to the Egyptians as long as they follow Him and His commands. Directly after this, the children of Israel are led to a place where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees: an oasis of sweet water, surely! This was another show of love from God to His people. Even complaining, weak and doubtful, He has led them away from danger. His love knows no limits, which unironically gives us the perfect example of love itself.