Lord's Day Evening Meditations April
"To Every Man His Work"
Nehemiah had a deep exercise about the condition
of the wall of Jerusalem and he had succeeded in raising an interest
in the people, so that they said, "Let us rise up and
build." In this chapter we are taken all the way around
the wall of Jerusalem to see the builders. The Lord looked down
with pleasure on this work, and the Holy Spirit wrote, in God's
eternal book, an account of it, with the names of some of the
builders. We have previously noted some of the details given;
the last was in verse 12 where we saw Shallum working, "he
and his daughters." These were commendable women, doing
the work of the Lord. It is a reminder that in our time as well,
there is much that believing women can do for the Him.
Those who repaired the valley gate (v.13), "set
up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof."
This is in contrast, as we have seen, with Eliashib who built
the sheep gate, but didn't put on any locks and bars.
Malchiah, a ruler, a man of position, repaired
"the dung gate." (v. 14) In a day when animals
were an important part of everyday life, and when there were no
sewage systems, we can imagine that this was the gate through
which the dung was carried to be disposed of outside the city.
It wouldn't have been a very attractive part of the city wall,
and was probably a rather humiliating place to work, but Malchiah
was there, doing his share of work for the Lord. In all the variety
of work that the Lord may give us to do, it is not the type of
work that we are doing that is important, but the fact that it
is the Lord's work.
Next to him, Shallun repaired "the gate
of the fountain." (v. 15) There is something specified
about his work that is not mentioned about the others. We read,
"He built it and covered it." Seeing
as it was the fountain gate, there must have been a fountain there,
and Shallun took care to cover it in order to keep the water clean.
How important a consideration that was then, and a lesson for
us now. We drink at the fountain of the Word of God. In itself,
it is absolutely pure, but we must be careful to not allow impurities
to get mixed in with it. Shallun teaches us the important lesson
to not allow the things of the world to get mixed up with the
Word of God.
We'll go now to verse 20 where we read that "Baruch
the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece."
Do you see something said here about the work of Baruch that is
not said of anyone else? The others built and repaired, but Baruch
"earnestly repaired." The others worked
diligently and faithfully (except Eliashib), but the Lord saw
something extra in the heart and work of Baruch. It is nice to
see the Spirit of God noticing and recording these details. There
is something similar in Romans 16:12. "Salute Tryphena
and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis
which laboured much in the Lord." This reminds
us that the Lord sees our hearts and the things that we do for
Him, and He notices the little things which might seem rather
unimportant. They are not unimportant to Him.
Work for the Lord is not all in preaching to great
crowds or performing spiritual feats before the eyes of the world.
We see in these Scriptures that the Lord notices and records little
details, and this is in accord with His own words in Luke 16:10
- "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful
also in much." We all have opportunities to serve Him
in our daily routine and surroundings. If we are faithful to Him
in these little things, then He may give us greater things to
do for Him.
But this raises another thought about working for
the Lord. There are two things to take into consideration: quantity
and quality. Persis was commended for the quantity of work she
did - she "laboured much in the Lord." Baruch
is commended for the quality of the work he did; as he "earnestly
repaired," you can see that his heart was in it, and
you can be sure that the piece of wall he repaired was well done!
There is a danger of sacrificing quality for quantity; there is
the danger of thinking that quantity only is important with the
result that much outward work seems to be accomplished without
giving attention to doing it in the right way, that is, according
to the Word. In 1 Cor. 3:9 - 13, where it is also a matter of
building, we find that "every man's work shall be made
manifest … and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort
it is." See how the test here is of the quality, not
the quantity of the work. The gold, silver, and precious stones
will remain, whereas the wood, hay, and stubble will all burn.
In Christendom, much importance is placed on doing great quantities
of work, but sadly, often, there is not the carefulness to do
it the Lord's way.
A prime example of this in Scripture is David bringing
the ark of God to Jerusalem. Read 1 Chron. 13 and 15:1 - 15. When
he brought the ark of God to Jerusalem he was doing the right
thing, but when he put the ark on a cart drawn by oxen, he was
doing it the wrong way. God's Word had specified that the ark
was to be carried by Levites, and David, for some reason that
we don't know, had not paid attention to this important detail.
It caused the death of a man. The lesson in this for us is, that
it is not only important to do the right thing; it is important
also to do it the right way.
In verse 21 we find Meremoth, whom we saw in verse
4, repairing "another piece" of the wall.
He finished the part he was working on, and then went around and
began working on "another piece." Here was
a man who was doing double duty. The sad part of this verse is
that this second piece was on the house of Eliashib. Often, the
wall of the city formed one wall of the houses inside. The wall
at Eliashib's house needed repair, but he wasn't working on it.
Someone else had to do it for him. In verse 28 the priests repaired
"every one over against his house." I wonder
if we realize that we might have some wall building to do right
at home. The basic unit of society is the home - the family, and
if the enemy can destroy that (as he is rapidly doing) he can
destroy the nation. The sanctity of the home is important in the
assembly. If we give the Lord His place in our homes and keep
the world out of them, we will have accomplished a very important
service to the Lord that will result in blessing to our families,
our assemblies, and even to the unsaved.
In verse 30, Meshullam repaired "over
against his chamber." It seems that he didn't even
have a house; all he had was a room. His sphere of responsibility
and influence was not very great, but he was faithful in what
was allotted to him. See how the Holy Spirit delights to notice
these examples of faithfulness in small things.
In verse 27 we find that "the Tekoites
repaired another piece." Even though their nobles refused
to lower themselves to work on the wall (v. 5), they themselves
are commended by the Spirit of God for repairing in two different
Verse 30 records the work of "Hanun, the
sixth son of Zalaph." This tells us that Zalaph had
at least six sons, and that Hanun was either the youngest, or
one of the younger ones. Where were the other five sons, his five
brothers? The Word is silent; they are not mentioned. The record
is that only one in the family identified himself with God's people
in the repair of the city wall. How beautiful it is, but also,
how rare, to see a complete family - father, mother, and all the
children, going on for the Lord. So often the brothers and sisters
show no interest so that only one, sometimes the youngest, goes
on in the Lord's things. The older ones, who should be setting
the example, are off following other interests. Well, those of
you who have brothers and sisters who are not living for the Lord,
don't get discouraged. They are the losers. If you seek the Lord's
approval, He will say to you in a coming day, "Well done,
thou good and faithful servant," and you will be very
happy that you tried to please Him. S.L.