Latrine Duty – Nehemiah 2:7 – 4:6

23 Apr


Where in the world would you get a lesson title of “Latrine Duty” out of the bible?  I’ll answer that a little later.

One of my favorite movies of all time is “No time for Sergeants – Warner Brothers 1958” starring the late Andy Griffith.  In the movie Will Stockdale was given the post of “Permanent Latrine Orderly” by his drill Sergeant.  The Sergeant thought Will, played by Andy Griffith, was a country bumpkin and assigned the job with the intent of making fun of him.

Latrine Duty

Will accepted the assignment and took pride in his work.  Ultimately the scheme backfired on the Sergeant when the commanding officer found out.

The question posed by the movie was “how could a person accept such a loathsome job, perform the work with passion and take pride in the accomplishment?” As it turns out we have a bible account closely related to the job Will Stockdale received.

Historical Setting

In a previous post, “Our Highest Priority”, Nehemiah had received a commission from the king to journey to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city.  With earnest Nehemiah set out for Jerusalem with letters of dispatch, permits to perform the work.

Upon his arrival he toured the city by night to see the state the walls were in.  In chapter 2:17 Nehemiah addresses the people, tells them of his God given priority and challenges them to join him.  The very next verse records their response… “Let us rise up and build”.

Passion Produces Results

Priority number one was to repair the walls of the city.  Chapter 3 is a roll call of those who joined in to build the walls.  I’d like to point out just a few…

The Priests take a section of the wall – 3:1

The half ruler of Jerusalem repaired a section – 3:9

The other half ruler of Jerusalem joins in with his daughters – 3:12

The half ruler of Bethzur came to help – 3:16

Take a look at Nehemiah 3:14.  Malchiah, a neighboring ruler came and repaired the dung gate.

I see no assignments handed out in scripture so I assume all these people volunteered for their section including Malchiah.  When the walls were completed the grand tour would likely not include the dung gate.  Why did he do it?  He saw the big picture.  Without his section the wall would have a breech.  Neh 4:6  So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

Final Thoughts

The work Jesus left us to do is comprised of many tasks; what happens when you end up repairing the dung gate?  Are you seeing the big picture or do you just see what’s in front of you?

Malchiah had to deal with temptations beyond the undesirable work.  In Chapter 3:5 the Tekoite Nobles wouldn’t do manual labor.  Malchiah, a ruler of a neighboring community, would have known about them and a lesser man might have dropped out thinking, “if they won’t work, neither will I”.  Not Malchiah, he was willing to accept latrine duty because he kept his eye on the big picture.

God’s big picture, the salvation of souls, is our mandate; what are we prepared to do to see those precious souls saved?

Until Night,

A Servant


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