Exodus 15:19-21 (NIV)
When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”
The Old Testament makes a habit of directing glory to God, praised by his many names, when a major miracle has occurred. In those moments, we can understand the active presence of God, God’s breath and wind, God’s Spirit, moving circumstances to result in the deliverance, and in the delight, of human hearts.
In the case of Miriam, we see a woman caught up in ecstatic praise after the Egyptians are swallowed by the waters of the Red Sea. In Miriam’s joy, leadership, and appropriate response to the Lord’s great deliverance, we can see the Spirit of God at work in her inspiring a pure, unmitigated, emotion-rich, and vibrant act of praise within her community.
Praise. It’s a worship word that is often used lightly in Christian settings as if we’re actually doing the action it represents when we use the word, sing the word, or say the word in our prayers. But an act of praise remains quite different from a reference to praise. I can praise my wife for her kind character and gracious hospitality. I could also withhold praise by simply talking with her about what praise is, or by reciting praise of her that someone else has penned.
In the first case, I am deeply involved in what’s happening—and she knows it. I am using words to help me engage in the act of praising her, and my intention adds weight to the meaning. In the second, I am participating in a form of praise, but withholding my own full engagement in the actual act of praise. In the former circumstance, I am a participant. In the latter, I am a spectator.
Miriam was engaged in an act of holy praise, spontaneously, and metaphorically combusting into a short season of delight, and thanks, and acclaim. And where the praise of God is igniting a spark from a pure heart, the Spirit is in the background, adding fuel and fanning it into flame. For those who withhold praise, managing appearance rather than offering appearance as a conjoined offering with praise, the Spirit is at work to open up those withholding hearts to joy.
When we see a work of God, it demands we stop and praise. A moment or a season of praise is appropriate and important when the Father is seen at work. The Spirit helps us praise—to engage your soul and mine in the wondrous worship of heaven.
Jesus, I receive your Holy Spirit. Let praise become my first language when I see the smallest acts of deliverance that come from your hand. Come, Holy Spirit, fan worship into flame within my heart, that praise may rise from these lips many times a day. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
What is your favorite song of praise, of acclaim, to God? Take a moment to sing it now, a few times, if possible, as an expression of appreciation for all that Jesus is doing in your life. Let the Spirit move you to praise as you sing.
For the Awakening,