The Dung Gate2
The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.
- Nehemiah 3:14
Somebody’s got to do it. That Dung Gate isn’t going to repair itself. The Dung Gate is exactly what you think it is: the place through which all of the human and animal waste had to pass on its way out of the city.
It makes sense to have a designated gate for the dung. In a city without plumbing and with horses and donkeys, that passage would get used, well, regularly. But the wall wouldn’t be complete unless that passage had a gate. The city’s defenses were only as strong as their weakest point.
Malkijah ruled a district in Jerusalem. Surely he could have found a more glorious part of the project on which to work. Today’s passage records that he rebuilt the Dung Gate and doesn’t mention whether or not he had any help. For all time, his name will be associated with the Dung Gate. For most of us, this is the only time we will ever hear his name.
What is your equivalent of the Dung Gate? We all have work that we don’t want to do. Maybe it’s changing a diaper or dropping off the recycling. Maybe it’s a project that you know will get no glory, no recognition, no end-of-the-year bonus. Maybe it’s a serving responsibility around church. The whole community is blessed when someone is willing to step in and do the work no one else wants to do.
If we could stand next to Malkijah and encourage him as he did his work and cart after cart carrying dung passed him by, we’d tell him: “The work you’re doing is important. It matters. If you don’t do this, none of the rest of this work will make any difference. Thank you!”
You probably don’t know too many people actively working in the dung transportation sector, but you probably know someone laboring on work that kind of stinks. Take some time to encourage them today. You can use that same line above if you need a boost.
Who can you reach out to and encourage today?