Sermon #70 Exodus Series
Title: The First Song
Text: Exodus 15:1-21
Subject: The Song of Moses
Date: Tuesday Evening — May 27, 2008
Tape : Exodus #70
Readings: Darvin Pruitt and Bobbie Estes
In the Scriptures it is always important to mark the first mention of a thing. The first mention of anything gives us a clear indication of how that particular thing is to be understood throughout the Scriptures. That rule, or principle of interpretation is sometimes referred to as “the law of first mention.”
Tonight, I intend to preach to you from the first song recorded upon the pages of Holy Scripture. There may have been others before this; but this is the first song of which we have record. Our text will be the oldest poem in the world. It was written hundreds of years before Homer’s Iliad. Its sublimity and grandeur is unsurpassed by any of the poetry that has followed it. Yet, this piece of poetry is never mentioned, much less studied in any high school or university literature class. Turn with me to Exodus 15, and read the Song of Moses with me.
(Exodus 15:1-21) “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. (2) The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (3) The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. (4) Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. (5) The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (6) Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. (7) And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. (8) And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (9) The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. (10) Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. (11) Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (12) Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. (13) Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. (14) The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. (15) Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. (16) Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. (17) Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (18) The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. (19) For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.”
Try to picture this huge choir, millions of people standing on the Canaan side of the Red Sea, as Moses lined out his hymn, singing the praises of God for the redemption they had just experienced! When Moses had finished leading the children of Israel in his song, Miriam and the women of Zion took out their tambourines and danced as they repeated the chorus.
(Exodus 15:20-21) “And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. (21) And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
Parts of this sweet song of redemption are found throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. Both David and Isaiah use some of the exact words of this song in their praises of the triune God. This great song of praise to our God is so great, so significant that it is specifically named as one of the songs that will be sung by the redeemed in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 15:3-4).
(Revelation 15:3-4) “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (4) Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
It is obvious, from the many allusions to this song in Holy Scripture, that it is full of spiritual instruction. It teaches us to give praise to God for the overthrow of all the powers of evil and the redemption and deliverance his chosen.
C. H. Spurgeon wrote, “It is God’s intent that from the day of Moses downward, even to the hour when flames of fire shall lick up the works of men, and the heavens themselves shall be dissolved with fervent heat, that this shall be the song of the chosen people everywhere, ‘Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.’”
I cannot tell you how often I have repeated portions of this song in my own worship of our God, as he has graciously delivered me from the hellish assaults of the prince of darkness against my soul. How often, when I thought I was about to be crushed, the Lord Jesus, our mighty Man of War, the Captain of our Salvation, arose and cast Pharaoh and his chariots into the depths of the sea, and I came away singing! — “I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation…Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy...Sing to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
May God the Holy Spirit, who dictated this song to Moses, now write it afresh upon our hearts! Breathe on us, Holy Spirit, that we also may be filled with the praises of Jehovah.
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. There is a time of the singing of birds, and there is a time for the singing of saints. — “Then sang Moses.” When did Moses and the children of Israel sing this great song? They sang this song of praise as soon as they had experienced God’s salvation (Exodus 14:30-15:1).
(Exodus 14:30-31) “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. (31) And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.”
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” Only a redeemed people, conscious of their deliverance, can truly worship and praise Jehovah, the Deliverer. Those who are yet dead in trespasses and sins may practice a form of godliness and sing words; but the only people in this world who can and will worship God and sing his praise are those who have experienced his grace.
There was no singing in Egypt. Only sighing, and crying, and groaning, and lamentation were heard in the land of bondage. There was no singing even at the celebration of the paschal supper, on that dreadful night when they ate the lamb in haste with their loins girded, and their staves in their hands. There was no singing as they came out of Egypt. Even when they were crossing the Red Sea, there was no word of song. In all those events, the children of Israel had many emotions, fear and joy, excitement and dread, but not a word of song. They marched on steadily, but they were not ready to take out their tambourines, sing and dance. Only when they had crossed the sea, and the waters of the sea rolled back upon and drowned their enemies, only when the depths completely covered Pharaoh and the Egyptian armies, only when they stood together on dry ground on the Canaan side of the sea do we read — “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” When their slavery was altogether a thing of the past, then they sang Jehovah’s praise.
The second thing I want you to see is this. — The song of Moses, the song Israel sang when they had experienced God’s deliverance was a song of Jehovah’s praise. Moses and the children of Israel sung their song “unto the Lord.”
This song was not an exhibition of musical skill, but a pouring forth of gratitude, thanksgiving and praise from the heart to God upon his throne.
· Jehovah had redeemed them with blood.
· Jehovah had brought them out of Egypt.
· Jehovah had brought them through the Red Sea.
· Jehovah had destroyed Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Sea.
· Jehovah alone would have the praises of their song.
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” — Their song was entirely about Jehovah. They not only sang unto the Lord, but they sang about him! This song was all about the Lord. There is nothing in it about the people. The word “Lord” is found twelve times in this song, in just 19 verses. The pronouns “he,” “him,” “thy,” “thou” and “thee” are found thirty-three times. How significant and how searching is this! How different this is from modern religious songs! Modern religious songs, like modern religion, are all about man, full of sentimentality and emotionalism. Instead of adoring, exalting and praising the God of all grace, they focus our thoughts on ourselves.
· They announce our love to God instead of his for us.
· They recount our experiences, instead of his mercies.
· They tell more of human attainments, instead of Christ’s Atonement.
This first song, the Song of Moses is different. — “I will exalt him” (v. 3), sums it all up. — “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea” (v. 1). The theme of this song is the Lord himself and that which he had done.
It is sweet and good to rejoice in God’s mercies; but it is far sweeter and far better to rejoice in the God of mercies (Isaiah 61:10; Joel 2:23; Philippians 3:1, 3; 4:4-6).
(Isaiah 61:10) “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
(Joel 2:23) “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”
(Philippians 3:1) “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”
(Philippians 3:3) “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
(Philippians 4:4-5) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
The Holy Spirit tells us distinctly that the children of Israel were here “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” So, this first song in Holy Scripture is a baptismal song, a song of distinct consecration to God.
When Pharaoh and his hosts had been destroyed, Israel stood for the first time, as a nation separated from Egypt. The Red Sea was the dividing line. Israel became a distinct people, a race redeemed from among men. They would never again feel the yoke of bondage. They would not return unto Egypt. Pharaoh would hurt them no more. They were now a distinct people consecrated unto Jehovah. To them God would reveal himself. Among them he would dwell.
Their passage through the Red Sea was the type of their death, their burial and their resurrection to a new life. It was their national baptism unto God. Therefore they sang this new song to the Lord. No song can exceed in sweetness that heavenly Canticle, — “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” There is no greater joy than to know that the Lord has chosen us unto himself to be his peculiar own, peculiar people. Conscious of redemption by blood and separation unto Jehovah, their God, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.”
· An Enthusiastic Song
· A Song of Personal Praise
· A Congregational Song
· An Experimental Song
· A Joyous Song
Come, ye young men and maidens, ye old men and fathers, let us praise the Lord on the high-sounding cymbals, and spend the rest of our days in crying, “Sing ye unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” Amen.
Now, let’s briefly look at the content of this blessed, instructive song.
(Exodus 15:1) “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
Triumph implies warfare. Read the 12th chapter of Revelation, and understand two things:
1. There is an ongoing, relentless warfare between the seed of the woman and the serpent’s seed, between Christ and the devil, between the church and the world, between the flesh and the Spirit.
2. Christ has fought and won the battle; and he has triumphed gloriously.
(Exodus 15:2) “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
In the first verse Moses adores the Lord God for his salvation. Here he adores him for those blessed covenant relations into our great God condescends to bring himself. Do we know anything of this? Can you say he is my God (Isaiah 12:2; Zechariah 13:9).
(Isaiah 12:1-2) “And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. (2) Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”
(Zechariah 13:9) “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
Christ is my Strength. He is the Strength of his spiritual Israel, the Author and Giver of strength to his own. He is the Strength of our lives, our hearts and our graces. It is Christ who strengthens us to do his will, to exercise every grace, to withstand our inward corruptions, resist our outward temptations, bear afflictions and overcome every enemy. Therefore he is our Song.
He alone is my Salvation; and he became my salvation in the sweet experience of his deliverance. He is my father’s God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the covenant.
(Exodus 15:3) “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.”
This character given to our blessed God and Savior is a striking one (Psalm 24:8; Isaiah 27:4; 45:9; Revelation 19:11).
(Psalms 24:8) “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
(Isaiah 27:4) “Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.”
(Isaiah 45:9) “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”
(Revelation 19:11) “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
John Trapp wrote, “He alone is a whole army of men, van and rear both (Isaiah 52:12). He sends the sword; (Ezekiel 14:17), musters the men (Isaiah 13:4), orders the ammunition (Jeremiah 50:25) and gives the victory. Whence he is here styled by the Chaldee, The Lord and Victor of wars.”
(Exodus 15:4) “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.”
Read the entire song spiritually for the profit of your soul. Pharaoh is but a type of Satan, the great enemy of our souls. His chosen captains typify the all evil, the terrors of the law, and particularly all our countless sins. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of the Lord, Jehovah, our Immanuel, our great Man of War, destroyed them all in his fury when he redeemed us with his blood (Exodus 14:17, 24-28; Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:9-11).
(Exodus 14:17) “And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”
(Exodus 14:24-28) “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, (25) And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians. (26) And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. (27) And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. (28) And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.”
(Colossians 2:13-15) “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
(Revelation 12:9-11) “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
(Exodus 15:4-10) “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. (5) The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (6) Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. (7) And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. (8) And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (9) The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. (10) Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.”
What a blessed, joyful picture this is of sin pardoned through Immanuel’s blood (Micah 7:18-19).
(Micah 7:18-19) “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. (19) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
(Exodus 15:11) “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
Unlike the many gods of Egypt, unlike the many gods of this world, he who is God indeed, the Lord Jehovah is “glorious in holiness” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). It was in this character that the Lord Jesus addressed his Father, calling him “Holy Father,” in his prayer (John 17:11). By the expression, “fearful in praises,” declares that even in ascribing praise to him, his people bow before him with humility, fearful of saying or doing something unbecoming the worship and praise of God. He who is our great God is God “doing wonders.” All his works are like himself, — Wonderful.
(Exodus 15:12) “Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.”
When the Lord God stretched out his right hand, drew forth his angry, glittering sword of justice, and slaughtered his darling Son as our Substitute, and buried him in the earth, the earth swallowed our sins. — Three days later, the earth cast out her dead, and our Savior arose without sin, “justified in the Spirit.”
(Exodus 15:13) “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.”
How sweet it is to behold God’s distinguishing grace set forth with such clarity (Exodus 8:22; Matthew 13:49; Isaiah 65:13; 1 Corinthians 4:7).
(Exodus 8:22) “And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.”
(Isaiah 65:13) “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:”
(Matthew 13:49) “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,”
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
(Exodus 15:14-16) “The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. (15) Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. (16) Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.”
This was fulfilled to Israel and it shall be fulfilled to us (Deuteronomy 2:4; Numbers 22:3; Joshua 2:9-10).
(Numbers 22:3) “And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.”
(Deuteronomy 2:4) “And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:”
(Joshua 2:9-10) “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. (10) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.”
When the time comes for you and me to pass over the sea into eternal bliss with Christ, our great Savior shall silence every foe. Satan may seek to raise Moses up to condemn us, but Christ will stand by his Joshua’s and Moses’ shall have nothing to say!
(Exodus 15:17) “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”
If the Lord brought you out of Egypt, depend upon it he will bring you into the heavenly Canaan (John 10:27-28).
(Exodus 15:18) “The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.”
What a great reason for joy amidst all the disappointments of life (Psalm 97:1; Revelation 11:15).
(Psalms 97:1) “The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”
(Revelation 11:15) “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
Blessed be his name, the Lord Jesus Christ reigns. Else we would be without hope!
(Exodus 15:19-20) “For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. (20) And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.”
John Trapp wrote, “A good soul is altogether unsatisfiable in sanctifying God’s name, and setting forth his goodness. Should I do nothing else all the days of my life, said that martyr, yea, as long as the days of heaven shall last, but kneel on my knees and repeat David’s Psalms; yet should I fall infinitely short of what I owe to God.”
Miriam, an Old Testament name, is the same as Mary in the New. The name means “bitter.” But now the bitter is made sweet and joins in the song. As in fasting, all mourn, see Joel 2:16, so in praising should all partake. It was a common thing in the Church, in after ages, so to celebrate the praises of the Lord. See Judges 5:1. 1 Samuel 18:6.
(Exodus 15:21) “And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
(Jeremiah 31:3-4) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (4) Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.”
Awake, my heart! Awake, my soul! Sing unto the Lord forever!. Did the Lord bring his people out of Egyptian bondage, and did Israel sing his mercies at the Red sea, and shall not I, whom he has brought out of nature’s darkness, and out of the bondage of sin and Satan, shout aloud his praise and sing of the Salvation of the Lord?
Oh! thou blessed and only Potentate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lord’s, infinite and eternal Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — Thou hast brought me out of the iron furnace, out of the horrible pit, the mire, and the clay, and hast set my feet upon a rock and established my goings: hast put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: so that many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”
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