How often have you been told to be quiet in your life? If you’ve read our post from last week, you can say at least once, because we talked about the importance of remaining silent before the Lord so we can keep our eyes open to His work (which you can read more about here). Well, this week, I want you to open your mouth wide singing praises to God. And we’ll look at why, through the story of Miriam’s song in the Bible.
Miriam’s song in Exodus 15:20-21 gives us a glimpse into why we should testify to God’s goodness in our lives.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about our mouths, telling us in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”.
Furthermore, Hebrews 13:15 speaks of our mouths and praise, saying, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
Because of this, we want to pay attention to how we can take care of our mouths in a biblical, God-honoring way. So today we’ll be looking at the health of our mouths through a story in Scripture.
So if you’ve ever wondered, dear woman, about the importance of testifying to God’s goodness in your own life, today you’ll discover just how vital it is that you open your mouth to sing God’s praises.
Who is Miriam?
As we’ve been following Israel in their journey from slavery to freedom, we’ve talked a lot about Moses and his leadership. Now, we get to pivot and look at Miriam, Moses’ sister. And it’s through Miriam’s story and Miriam’s song that we’ll learn the importance of testifying to God’s goodness in our own lives.
But first, we need to look to Exodus to discover who Miriam was and how her place in the story fuels the importance of Miriam’s song in the entire Bible.
As we briefly walk through her story, I want you to find yourself in it.
Miriam’s three seasons of life –
- unnamed girl,
- powerful leader,
- rebellious resistor
mark a real, gritty woman who certainly was not perfect, but allowed her life to be used to tell God’s story of goodness and freedom.
As you read and reflect on the devotional questions, ask yourself –
- What season of life am I in that mirrors Miriam’s life?
And whatever season that is, hone your heart to the truth that God wants to use all of your story to tell His grand, good story.
Miriam as Sister
Miriam’s song in Exodus 15 comes right in the middle of two important events in her story. The first time we see Miriam is back in Exodus 2:4, when Scripture tells us she stood at the riverbank while watching her brother, Moses, float down the Nile river in a basket.
She is unnamed, a girl who may have slipped your notice upon first glance. Nevertheless, Miriam’s unnamed presence at the start of her story doesn’t negate what God has planned for her. As we know from our study of another invisible woman in the Bible (which you can read here),
Invisibility doesn’t equate to unimportance.
And so Miriam’s story starts on a riverbank, where she is unnamed and unnoticed by the world.
- Do you currently feel unnoticed by the world around you?
Feeling invisible can lead us to wrongly believe the lie that our lives have no meaning, or that there’s no hope. Hear this today sister:
Praise God for your hope for tomorrow, and that He is working good in your life, even today.
Miriam as Leader
As Moses rises among the Egyptian courts, Miriam grows up apart from her brother. She remains with her Hebrew family- until the day they’re freed by God.
Although we don’t know exactly when Moses and Miriam are reunited, she’s first mentioned by name in Exodus 15:20. Her introduction here comes directly after God rescued Israel from the Egyptian army, a story we talked about last week.
It’s at this point that Miriam is introduced as a prophetess.
She’s the first woman in the Bible to be given this title, and though its original meaning is unknown, we’re able to glean that she was a woman of leadership. And from her place of leadership, Miriam sings a song testifying to God’s goodness after He delivered Israel from Egypt’s grasp.
These are the praises she sings to God in Exodus 15:21,
“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Miriam started out as an unnamed woman in Scripture, but came to play a vital role as Israel was led to freedom. Her testimony that she sings in Exodus 15:20 is made all the more powerful because of her humble beginnings.
- Reflect on your current season of life – whether you feel invisible or influential – and praise God that He sees you right where you are and isn’t finished with your story yet.
Miriam as Resistor
After Miriam’s song is recorded in the Bible, the next mention of her is also the last before her death. In Numbers 12:1-16 we learn about Miriam and her brother Aaron challenging Moses’ authority.
They speak out against Moses in an attempt to defend their own prophetic position before the Lord.
But God defends Moses, telling Miriam and Aaron that while other prophets may hear from the Lord through visions or dreams, God speaks with Moses directly.
And because of this, Miriam’s speaking out against Moses ends up costing her.
After God finishes rebuking Miriam and Aaron, Miriam is left with a skin disease that causes her to be cut off from the people for seven days as she heals.
And so it’s these three stanzas of Miriam’s life –
- unnamed girl,
- powerful leader,
- rebellious resistor
– that tell her story. Yet all three parts of her recorded life remain important for the pinnacle – Miriam’s song in Exodus 15.
So let’s return there and discover how Miriam’s song, inside her larger story, teaches about why we should testify to God’s goodness in our own lives.
- As you read through Miriam’s story, where did you find yourself?
- Were you the invisible girl?
- The powerful leader,
- woman with a song?
- Or maybe you’re Miriam at the end, a woman who’s resisting God’s story unfolding around her.
If that’s you, first ask God for forgiveness and healing of your heart. Ask Him to humble you to be open to how He’s working, and through whom He’s working. Then, find hope my sister.
Miriam's Song in the Bible
And so, upon returning to Miriam’s song we have a fuller picture of who this woman is and where we are in her story. But it’s not just her story that matters here, it’s Israel’s story, it’s the story of all of God’s people that matters.
You see, Miriam testified at one of the most important moments in Israel’s history – the parting of the Red Sea.
And more than that, many historians agree that Miriam’s short song was the original inspiration for the entire song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-18.
Now that is an amazing testimony!
So, what does all of this have to do with how you testify to God’s goodness in your own life? Well, let’s dive a little deeper into what Miriam’s song means for your own story sister.
Think about it: Because Miriam stood up and sang, we have a specific story of redemption, of freedom. Would the story of the Exodus still have been told and recorded without Miriam?
Yes, I’m sure it would have.
But it would’ve been entirely different.
Miriam opens her mouth, singing praises to God, and because of that, a specific testimony of God’s goodness was told. It’s the story of God’s people being brought to freedom, redeemed and set apart.
But it’s also one woman’s story. A girl who started out unnamed, but then was brought to freedom so she could sing God’s praises. And we know the next part of Miriam’s story – a moment of rebellion.
But what’s amazing is that knowing Miriam’s full story – adds to the beauty of her testimony, especially the gritty parts. Just because Miriam has a beautiful moment singing praise to God doesn’t mean her life ends on this one high note.
Her story is not tied up with a pretty bow. Miriam goes on to live and she doesn’t do it perfectly. Her testimony is real, gritty, and still, she sings in the pages of Scripture.
For the same reason your song must be sung my dear woman:
If I were to ask you today why you should be testifying to God’s goodness in your own life, what would your answer be?
There are many good answers to this question –
- so that other people will come to know God,
- so that you are encouraged in your walk with the Lord.
But I would argue that these are only smaller reasons that makeup the big reason we testify.
And that reason is the same reason Miriam’s song was recorded in Scripture: God’s story will be told, and your part is desperately needed.
Now, we’ll unpack this a bit more, but let’s first look closer at Miriam’s song and why her part was so desperately needed in the story.
Learning from Miriam's Song in the Bible
You see, in Exodus 15:20, we’re told that when Miriam stands up and opens her mouth to sing praises to God, all the other women in her company follow her lead.
Don’t miss this!
They sing and dance, praising God for how He saved them.
And remember how I told you that Miriam’s song in the Bible was one of the oldest texts we have in Scripture?
Think of that!
Not only did the Israelite women around Miriam hear of God’s story through her testimony, but us women today also benefit from Miriam’s testimony. Her part was needed, in every way.
For encouragement, praise, witness.
To remind us that even though our story may start as unnamed women, God is working out our freedom. And though we give ourselves to broken moments, over and over again, God is faithful to still use our story to tell of His goodness.
Our singular testimonies are desperately needed by the women around us.
So we can see God’s goodness on display in all His people, throughout His whole story, and for all time.
- How can you tell your story of God’s goodness to encourage the women around you?
- Think of one moment this very week that God has been good to you.
God lavishes His goodness on us each day, so take time to truly meditate on this. Maybe it’s the gift of your marriage, or your children. It could be the blessing of a job to pay bills, or a roof over your head. Perhaps it’s the food in your fridge, or a blanket to keep warm. Or the encouragement of one, close friend this week.
Whatever it is, praise God for His goodness in providing that for you.
I want to end today looking at Jesus’ thoughts on testifying to God’s goodness. In Luke 19:37-40, Jesus is riding into Jerusalem at the start of passion week – the week he was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.
And as Jesus is riding in, there’s a multitude of people surrounding him. All of them are shouting out praise to God for the works they’d seen through Jesus.
But some of the religious leaders don’t like all the commotion, all the open mouths and loud praise. So they tell Jesus to quiet the crowd.
Luke 19:40 says, “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’”
On first read, we think Jesus might be talking about creation testifying, and well, he sort of is. But I think the main point Jesus is making here is that each person praising God in that crowd was a desperately needed testimony.
Testimonies are a much more significant act.
They provoke a holy joy that can only come when we each sing praises to our God. Miriam’s song and testimony inspired the women around her to also sing praise.
And it’s your song, dear woman, your specific testimony of how God has worked good in your life that tells the grand story of God.
So sing it loud, my sister.
Sing your song, because it’s desperately needed.
For more on singing praises to God and why we testify to God’s goodness check out this post from Desiring God: God parted the Seas for You