Lessons from the Life of Miriam

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Miriam’s most famous role is probably that of supporting actress in Moses’ infancy. But today, we are going to learn lessons from Miriam not only as a sister, but also as a leader.

Miriam was brave

Miriam, a young but big-hearted girl, was taught by her mother to collaborate with God’s plans. Miriam witnessed Jochebed hiding Moses and then prayerfully coming up with a plan to save his life. She watched as Jochebed sealed the basket and placed Moses in the Nile River, and from her post she faithfully kept vigil. Miriam knew the risk she was facing, but she was resolved to watch over her baby brother until Pharaoh’s daughter would find him.

She was wise

Jochebed’s plan was to do something to save her son’s life, but the details she had to leave to the Lord. She could prepare her daughter only so far. When the baby in the basket, guided by unseen hands, reached Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam had to improvise. She dared to appear from the bulrushes and speak to the princess.

While she made her offer as attractive to the Egyptian princess as possible, what she was wisely securing for Moses was a mother that would prepare him for his life’s work. Miriam directly participated in her brother’s salvation, both physically and spiritually.

Miriam was a leader

Miriam’s strength of character was complemented with many gifts with which to lead Israel, including prophecy, poetry, music, and dance.

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.

Exodus 15:20

The women looked up to her as an example, and she utilized the gifts God gave her to serve the people. Whenever they were discouraged, her music and dance buoyed their spirits, and her poetry brought them hope.

Even leaders make mistakes

In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron. But the same evil that first brought discord in heaven sprang up in the heart of this woman of Israel, and she did not fail to find a sympathizer in her dissatisfaction.

Patriarchs and Prophets, 382 (1890). 

Miriam lost sight of her mission and grew dissatisfied with her position. Like Eve in Eden, she listened to the enemy and fostered discontentment.

In her murmurings, Miriam was disloyal not only to her leader (Moses), but to God. This attitude from one so highly respected was on the brink of causing ruin to the entire nation.

After a severe rebuke from the Lord, Miriam was punished. Leprosy turned her skin white as snow. Humbled, Miriam repented. Still, she was banished from the camp for seven days. In a mixture of respect for Miriam’s position and sadness at what had happened, the entire camp waited until she returned before resuming their voyage.

If Miriam’s envy and discontent had not been clearly rebuked, great harm would have resulted. Envy is one of the most satanic characteristics that can exist in the human heart, and one of the most disastrous in its effects.

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 384

Miriam, the brave, wise leader, committed a grievous sin. And yet, her story teaches us that no matter how serious our mistakes may be, God forgives and forgets. (Hebrews 8:12)

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