Are You Carrying Your Tambourine?
Guest blogger Rev. Luke Dowdy
Youth Pastor at Berlin Brethren Church, in Berlin, PA
A note from Pastor John: As you can tell from the header, today’s blog isn’t from me, it’s from my Ashland Seminary classmate, Luke Dowdy. Luke shared this devotion during the last online meeting of our World of the Hebrew Bible class, and I was so struck by it that I asked him to share it with me, so that I could share it with all of you. I hope that you like it as much as I did.
Today’s devotion is inspired by our recent studies in women of the Old Testament. I’d like to introduce our passage with a question; “Are you carrying a tambourine?”
Let’s set the context. Moses had been sent by God on what seemed to be an impossible mission of freeing an entire people from slavery with only a staff and the revelation of his name. Through the course of making his appeals to Pharaoh, followed by 10 devastating plagues, the Israelites are hurried out of Egypt and sent on their way. But it doesn’t take Pharaoh long to change his mind and go chasing after them.
The people begin to panic and Moses intercedes for them, leading to the famous crossing of the sea. We know that after the Israelites cross on dry land to safety, the waters that were being held back by God come crashing in and destroy Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen. It was a moment of deliverance! God had come through for them when they needed help the most.
Then in Exodus 15, we’re told the people of Israel began to sing. “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.’”
The song of deliverance in chapter 15 continues a bit more. But what caught my attention the most was actually what happens after, beginning in verse 19. “For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.’”
This reading on women and daily life have me thinking of a packing list. We all have one when we travel, whether on vacation or an extended trip…and the Israelites are probably no different.
If you were told you were about to flee Egypt on short notice, what you would pack? What is so essential to your family, your survival, your identity that you’d take with you? Let’s set aside the plunder taken from the Egyptians in chapter 12 for a moment and focus on the packing list. I’m guessing there might be some type of cookware, maybe a bread basket. Clothes make sense to cover your family. Oils for various needs are appropriate. Perhaps a skin for holding liquids. Would you pack an heirloom that’s been passed down that you want to be sure your children get?
But of all the things to pack leaving Egypt hastily, when space is tight, and you don’t want to be bogged down for the journey, they make room for tambourines! Where did they come from? It seems out of place.
Imagine the packing conversations, wondering what to leave behind to make room for the instrument. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d let my wife bring a tambourine as an “essential item” if we were about to embark on an extended trip.
But Miriam and the women seem to know that praise was up ahead, something worthy of worship…and they were prepared! They left Egypt in anticipation of great things to come…and they packed their tambourines! The instruments made the list!
I think we can all ask, “Are we carrying a tambourine” in anticipation for what is ahead, something worthy of worship because God will pull through when we need him the most? Of all the things I’ve packed for my day, so to speak, is one of my items a tambourine?
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