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The Dung Gate

I guess someone had to do it, though I wonder if it was decided by straws or a coin toss. The dung gate. When the Israelites returned from exile in Babylon, Nehemiah roused the troops to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem. One of the sections in need of repair was called the dung gate (Nehemiah 3:14). And Malkijah did the deed.

As a young Christian, I spent a weekend with some friends in an old house that was equipped with an old-style toilet – wooden frame and tin bucket for catchment. I remember visiting the facility one morning, and nearly gagged at finding the bucket close to its capacity. I made a small contribution. But was soon after incredibly humbled to see the next morning visitor carrying the bucket down to the back yard to do the dig, empty, bury, wash, and return. The dung gate. Malkijah had returned, and his name was Terry, and I had learned an important lesson about pride, servanthood, and a Christ-like spirit.

There are some mentioned in the Nehemiah text (3:5) who would not put their shoulders to the work, and another fellow mentioned who repaired a section of the wall with the help of his daughters (3:12). Malkijah is then mentioned not as having drawn the short straw, nor as vying for a “more noble project”, but courageously making his contribution to the security of Jerusalem. His name means, “My king is Jah” [Yahweh], and his story challenges my weak flesh when it cries out, “My king is Self”.  O great God, please keep me from Lord Muck.

DM 29th January 2013


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