Monday, 5 January 2015

{The Return of.....} Matriarchs on a Monday - Shallum's Daughters

Yes, a New Year, and "New" things. Many moons ago, I was working through the lessons I was learning from the women of the Bible.  I got somewhat discouraged that those Monday posts, which blessed me so richly, seemed to be read by so few. I was considering what I wanted for The Joyful Keeper, for 2015, and I decided that returning to something like this was never going to be a bad thing! Yes, it may get fewer "hits" than some other topics, but I trust they are a blessing to those who DO read it.

I looked back to where I had finished, and decided to pick back up with some "nameless" women in the book of Nehemiah.  Shallum's Daughters.

Thinking about this title, put upon these young ladies, made me smile.  I grew up with my Dad as my Pastor.  He preached around many Churches, at home and abroad, and was known by many.  When I would visit other Churches, I would often be introduced, or introduce myself as "David Cassells' Daughter".  Sometimes  often I would grow weary of this title.  I would get an "Ahhhh!", from that introduction, but had I just said "Caroline", it would have meant nothing.  Funnily, I minded less, and in fact it was a novelty for quite some time, to become known as "Robert Cordle's Wife", instead.  I do still find myself being introduced as the daughter of my father, even at the age of 37!

Like me, these girls are only titled by their relationship with their father - these daughters are never given individual names.  They are simply "Shallum's Daughters".

We don't know how many there were.

We don't know how old they were.

We only know this.

"And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters."
Nehemiah 3:12

We know their father was Shallum.

We know he was a ruler, in an important position.

We know he had at least two daughters.

By inference, given it was the norm for sons to help with physical labour, he had no sons.

It would be very easy to skim read over this passage, as it is a list of all those who helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, alongside Nehemiah. You know how we all pore very carefully over lists in the Bible - taking in every detail, and absorbing every fact.


Bible lists are hard work, but they often hold gems of truth, worth considering.  God's Word is exactly that - GOD'S.  It's all profitable.

So, what lessons can we learn from this family?

I was thinking about the backdrop of this passage.  It's the wonderful account of Nehemiah - the King's cup bearer - who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. He and Ezra were the two men instrumental in this all taking place.  He journeyed back, surveyed the walls that had been torn down, and he set to work.  Due to the nation falling away from God, He had allowed the Babylonians to swoop in and destroy the land.  Families had been torn apart - just think of Daniel and his three friends - land destroyed, and cities decimated.  Jerusalem, their main city - that treasured place, where the temple was - had been pulled down.  The strong walls, that had seemed to be so secure, had been pulled down, and the gates taken off. Nehemiah was heading up the work, and had called on people to help.  Enter Shallum, and his daughters.

I think about the walls that are torn down, and I think of my spiritual life.  When we turn away from God, He will often allow us to fall into hard times - the walls of our life can be pulled down by unwise choices.  We can end up surrounded by a life that is in spiritual ruins, if we are not careful in where we place our confidence.  Our confidence should be in God alone.  If our life becomes one of ruination, we CAN rebuild.  There is always mercy and forgiveness to be found in Christ.  Those people of old needed to simply repent, and begin the work.  Likewise, we need to simply repent of the bad choices we have made, and get to work.  God has created us with the ability to make choices, and it is as equally within our power to make the RIGHT choices, to rebuild our life, and make it one which we own for God's glory, or to make the WRONG ones, which tear us down. We can all rebuild, by God's grace and help, just like Nehemiah, the many men, and the DAUGHTERS, too! We, as Daughters of the Heavenly King - THE ruler of the New Jerusalem, awaiting us in the future - can rebuild our lives, that have been torn down by our bad choices. It doesn't matter what our past has been affected by - it doesn't matter how bad we feel we have fallen - our lives can be rebuilt.

"for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."
Psalm 130:7

We need to take a good hard look at ourselves, seeing if there are any "walls" in our life that are broken down, and get to repairing them, by God's grace and enabling.  What better time to start, than in the New Year?

The next lesson is one for families.  I TOTALLY love that this is a scene of a family pulling together.  As parents, it's our job to make sure we involve all our family - male or female - in whatever we do for the Lord.  Remember, ALL that we do is for God, and in ALL that we do, we can involve the whole family! The family is the first and highest calling that God has given us - they are our Kingdom work! Get them stuck in, alongside you, in whatever you do in the Church.  If you neglect them, in favour of something "more important", they may grow up resentful and rebellious.  If you get them involved - let them see the importance of reaching out to those in need, evangelising the lost, or even, like Shallum, the nitty gritty of physical jobs needing to be done in the Church life p they will grow up seeing the blessing of working for God! I am not sure whether those girls were physically BUILDING the walls - we simply don't know - but they could have been mixing mortar, carrying things to the workers, bringing refreshments.  It's all speculation and conjecture to try and specify, but we know they were there, and WORKING! Families - get involved in God's work TOGETHER!  If you are  single woman - get involved! If you are a mother, encourage your daughters to get involved.  Working for the Lord is NEVER in vain.

The final thing I thought of was the fact that single young woman can be involved in Church work - FULL STOP (PERIOD!).  I think, somehow, it can be perceived that because so much of the early church details were about the work that men were to do, as the spiritual leaders, the role of women was somehow obsolete.  Single young women, who don't have the responsibilities of being a wife and, more especially a mother, can do much to help. Sunday Schools, toddler groups, youth work, outreach, evangelism, nursing homes, catering, and practical jobs to be done in a Church building, can all be done by a woman.  Anything, in fact, that is not specifically outlined as a role for only men! We see, many times, that women are mentioned as part of the early Church.  In the sight of God, men and woman are spiritual equals. As individual members of the Body of Christ, we are all God's children, with equal responsibility to get involved in Church life.  Both men and women, in the early Church, gathered together, praying, learning, and evangelising. Young women, GET INVOLVED IN YOUR CHURCH! Don't just sit there enjoying the ministry -  think about what you can do to help, and get on with it! Once you are married, and more especially if you are blessed with children, there will be things you simply can't do any more, because, rightly so, your children will become your main ministry.  Work in every way you can, while you can.  We don't hear talk of the wives working, because their job was at home, but his daughters were there, "getting their hands dirty".  I was involved in various different Church activities, in my single days.  I am so glad that I did, because they were such a blessing, and a help to me as I now seek to minister in my own home, and whatever ways I can in our own Church and community.

It doesn't matter who you are, or what your status is - Shallum was most probably a man of some wealth and status - you can repair the walls in your life, and you can train up your daughters (AND, your sons) to get involved in the Lord's Work.

My Joy-Filled Life

1 comment :

  1. You said, "we CAN rebuild. There is always mercy and forgiveness to be found in Christ. " ... Amen! I love, love, love these words from Psalm 130 ... 'plenteous redemption'.... ohhhh yes! And isn't it just as well for us all. What a Saviour!

    And I''ve always loved this little snippet from Nehemiah. Like you, I've pictured what they may have been doing. There's one thing sure, these ladies were nothing like the 'ladies' we see in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice..... too 'ladylike' to do ANYTHING!! (even though I adore P&P ;) )
    Anne x