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The Music of Miriam

Let’s meet the Biblical Miriam. Did you know that the Hebrew name “Miriam” means stubbornness or obstinacy? The Stone Chumash commentary on Ex 2:1-2, suggests that Miriam, at only age six, confronted her parents, who had separated from their marriage rather than bringing boys into the world who would be murdered by Pharaoh.  Miriam believed that God had told her that the savior of the Hebrews would come from her family. Her parents believed her and  reunited, so Moses was born.

Miriam, at age seven, was so obstinate in her trust in God that she, and not their mother, stood on the bank of the Nile River, as the daughter of pharaoh picked up Moses from his basket floating in the reeds. Miriam approached pharaoh’s daughter and received Moses back to their family to remain until he was weaned.

Years later, Miriam became the voice of Moses to the women. It was Miriam who directed the women’s preparations for celebrating the first Passover and for packing to leave Egypt forever.

Three days later, after all the Hebrews had safely crossed the Red Sea on dry land, it was Miriam who led all the women in playing tambourines and dancing in worship and thanksgiving to God who had hurled their enemies the Egyptians into the sea.

This story brings up the question where did the tambourines come from? According to Hebrew tradition, before the Hebrews left Egypt, Miriam, by stubborn faith, had called out to the women to make or bring their tambourines to be used in worship on the other side of the Red Sea. Let’s think about this, if you were leaving your home forever and could only take what you could carry, would you bring a tambourine? And yet the women seeing Miriam’s vision obeyed.

I know a “Miriam” of today. Her name is Miriam Deen, the pianist at Central Christian Church for over 20 years. She, like the Miriam of the Bible, listened to God and was stubborn enough to prepare herself to play the music of God.

Miriam, an extraordinary educator, heard my husband Larry singing and she didn’t stop pursuing him to sing special music until he finally agreed six months later. Then Miriam trained Larry to use his voice to fill the whole church. They are the closest of friends who share laughter and fun.

Miriam Deen, like the Biblical Miriam, is not just a pianist who plays hymns but she is anointed by Jesus to lead us in worship before the throne of God.