A Devoted Saint
Why does the negative memory of someone we know cloud out the good that they have done in their lives? When we think of certain characters in the Bible, what comes to mind when we say Solomon or Peter or David? We can learn from their mistakes but we can learn much more from the positive. That is the case with Miriam. In the last chapter we learned that Miriam, over 80 years of age, answered the men’s song of praise with her own, leading the women in song and dancing, praising the mighty God for the victory over the Egyptian army that God drowned in the Red Sea.
Song can be an important part of our spiritual lives. Is it in ours? We see in the Bible that David wrote many songs of his heart. Paul admonishes us also to sing spiritual songs and hymns.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Here we see brethren in the New Testament admonishing one another in songs as Miriam did and also giving praise to God in their own hearts. Miriam was such a woman. The leader of the women of the camp of Israel led them in song. Whether it be sorrow, i.e., songs in the night” or joy of spirit, there is a Psalm or hymn that we can sing to give us hope and help express our joy and praise to God.
Let’s look at the example of one modern day woman. She sang songs in the dark nights during her trials to help her have hope and give her peace.
Woman of Hymns
“In 1956, Elisabeth Elliot’s husband, Jim, was martyred by savage Auca Indians in Ecuador. Later, when an interviewer asked this woman why hymns are an important part of her life, Mrs. Elliot responded:
‘I came from a home where we not only read the Bible every day, but we sang a hymn every day. I have learned as a result of that [practice]…hundreds of hymns. They are as much a part of my life as the Scriptures, and they have been a tremendous blessing to me in times of distress.’
‘Elisabeth Elliot went on to say that upon hearing that her husband might be dead, a verse of Scripture and the words of a hymn came to mind and ministered to her soul. Mrs. Elliot shares:’
‘Isaiah 43 says, ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee.’ That ideas is also taken up in the great hymn… How Firm A foundation.’
When thro’ the deep waters I cause thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. For I will be with thee ty trials to bless, and sanctify to three they deepest distress.’ Pgs 101-102
I myself have gone through deep distress when my father passed away. He was in a state of unconsciousness at the time my Mom, my sisters and I were singing one of my favorite hymns in his presence, hoping it would bring him comfort if he could possibly hear and also ourselves, “Be Not Afraid My People.”
Now before we depart from the story of Miriam, that remarkable leader of women, please notice the ways in which this senior saint gave of her energies at this point in her life.
~ Miriam was still in love with the Lord.
As the Israelites witnessed God’s destruction of their enemies, Miriam’s heart burst into praise and song as she worshiped the Lord. (Exodus 15:21. She shouted, “Sing to the Lord!”
~ Miriam was still leading the women.
Ever the leader, when Miriam’s hands reached for a timbrel and her soul sang in tribute to God, “all the women” joined her. (Exodus 15:20)
~ Miriam was still serving her brothers.
In her later years she assisted both Moses and Aaron as these three siblings led God’s two million people out of Egypt and toward God’s Promised Land. (Micah 6:4) Not only did the young Miriam care about her baby brother Moses, (Exodus 2:4) as his little basket floated along the Nile River (Exodus 2:4), but the spunky, energetic Miriam continued to help Moses and Aaron by attending to the needs of the women as the Israelites began their journey.
~ Miriam was still singing praises to God
Her worship was public, expressive, exuberant, and heartfelt as she came before His presence with song. She never tired of praising Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.
Whatever your age, dear sisters, continue – to the end! – To be women who love God, praise Him, and serve His people. Pgs 104-105
Yet, there is one terrible incident that sometimes is the first thought in some people’s minds, that of her verbally attacking and criticizing Moses. God then punished her with seven days of leprosy. (Numbers 12) She did not enter the Promised Land, she, nor Aaron, nor Moses, because of not honoring God before the Israelites. (Numbers 20:2-12) How sad this picture is, for God takes leadership of His people seriously, and the punishment is sometimes harsher for those who have such important responsibilities. Indeed many of us remember the flaw of Miriam when she comes to remembrance; yet, we do not remember how much she served the Lord.
What would Miriam’s gravestone say if we were able to choose the words?
Here lies a remarkable woman
who loved God, her family
and God’s people
and served them with
all of her heart, soul,
mind and strength. Pg 106
~ Miriam’s Message For You Today~
I can think of nothing worse than living your whole life and then, at life’s end, realizing that there is nothing lasting that remains. Well, that was not the case with Miriam. Indeed, her lasting impact continues to affect us across the centuries. And her message is loud and clear! What do we learn from Miriam?
First – Beyond your relationship with God, your family is you’re most important relationship. Careers are soon over. Friends come and go, but your loyal relationship with family will have lasting impact.
Next, whether you are married or single, ministry to and with God’s people has lasting benefits. Miriam’s decades of faithful service as a devoted saint gained momentum with each passing year. She teaches us that “senior hood” equal “servant hood.”
And finally, sin may have its consequence, but unfortunate missteps or even significant sins in ourselves or others should not be seen as final. God’s grace is there to pick us up and put us back on the path to usefulness to our family and our church. Pgs 106-107