Psalm 136:15

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 15. But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea. Here comes the thunder clap. Though we hear them sounding peal upon peal, yet the judgments of the Lord were only loud mouthed mercies speaking confusion to the foe, that the chosen might tremble before him no longer. The chariots were thrown over, the horses were overthrown. The King and his warriors were alike overwhelmed; they were hurled from their chariots as locusts are tossed to and fro in the wind. Broken was the power and conquered was the pride of Egypt. Jehovah had vanquished the enemy. "Art thou not it which cut Rahab and wounded crocodile?" None are too great for the Lord to subdue, none too high for Lord to abase. The enemy in his fury drove after Israel into the sea, but his wrath found a terrible recompense beneath the waves.

For his mercy endureth for ever. Yes, mercy continued to protect its children, and therefore called in the aid of justice to fulfil the capital sentence on their foes. Taken red handed, in the very act of rebellion against their sovereign Lord, the adversaries met the fate which they had themselves invited. He that goes into the midst of the sea asks to be drowned. Sin is self damnation. The sinner goes downward of his own choice, and if he finds out too late that he return, is not his blood upon his own head? The finally impenitent, terrible their doom, will not be witnesses against mercy; but rather this shall aggravate their misery, that they went on in defiance of mercy, and would yield themselves to him whose mercy endureth for ever. To the Israelites as they sung this song their one thought would be of the rescue of their fathers from fierce oppressor. Taken like a lamb from between the teeth of the lion, justly praises her Deliverer and chants aloud:

Evermore his love shall reign;
Pharaoh and his host are slain.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 15. But overthrew Pharaoh, etc. Thus fell Sethos the Second. It was his terrible destiny to leave to after times the strongest exemplification of daring wickedness and mad impiety in his life, and of the vengeance of God in his death, that ever was enacted on the earth. Never had such a judgment befallen any nation, as his reign in Egypt. Accordingly the memory of this fearful event has never departed from among men. The gulf in which he perished is named Bahr Kolzoum, "the sea of destruction", to this day.

The memory and name of Sethos the Second were infamous in Egypt. His tomb was desecrated, and his sarcophagus publicly and judicially broken. The vault seems to have been used as a burying place for slaves. The distinctive title of his name, Sethos, has been mutilated on all the monuments of Egypt. In Lower Egypt the mutilation has even been extended to the same title in the rings of his great grandfather (Sethos the First), such was the deep abhorrence in which the name had fallen, after it had been borne by this wicked king. His is the only one in the whole range of the kings of Egypt which has suffered this mark of public infamy. --William Osburn.

Verse 15. But overthrew Pharaoh, etc. Margin, as in Hebrew, shaked off. The word is applicable to a tree shaking off its foliage, Isaiah 33:9 . The same word is used in Exodus 14:27 : "And the Lord overthrew (Margin, shook off) the Egyptians in the midst of the sea." He shook them off as if he would no longer protect them. He left them to perish. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 15. But shook off Pharaoh. This translation gives an image of locusts. They fell into the sea like a swarm of locusts. --Zachary Mudge, 1769.

Verse 15. But overthrew Pharaoh, etc. I know that the Gospel is a book of mercy; I know likewise that in the prophets there are many expressions of mercy; I know likewise that in the ten commandments, which are the ministration of death, there is made express mention of mercy, "I will have mercy on thousands": yet, notwithstanding all this, if every leaf, and every line, and every word in the Bible were nothing but mercy, it would nothing avail the presumptuous sinner. Our God is not an impotent God with one arm; but as he is slow to anger, so is he great in power. And therefore though in this Psalm there is nothing but his mercy endureth for ever, which is twenty-six times in twenty-six verses: yet mark what a rattling thunder clap is here in this verse. In our addresses therefore unto God, let us so look upon him as a just God, as well as a merciful; and not either despair of or presume upon his mercy. --Abraham Wright.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 15. Final victory.

  1. Battalions of evil annihilated.
  2. Love unharmed mounting immortal above the wave: "for his mercy endureth for ever."
  3. Heaven resonant with the song of Moses and the Lamb, to him give thanks. --W.B.H.