Blog Archive

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Exalted Servant

"The value of a person's job doesn't depend upon what it
allows him to have, but what it allows him to become."
~ Billy Coffey (from What I Learned Today)

Exalted Servant

And the appointed duty of the children of Merari included the boards of the tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, its sockets, its utensils, all the work relating to them.
~ Numbers 3:36 (NKJV)

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
~ 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
~ Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)

The Levites were stewards not of land, as were Israel's other tribes, but of the holy things of YHWH. The priesthood was entrusted to the house of Kohath, and with it the Ark of the Covenant and sacred vessels. The house of Gershon was charged with care of the tabernacle itself. The appointed duty for the house of Merari was care of perimeter and utensils—they were dishwashers and street sweepers.

Perhaps manual labor best lent itself to whistle or hum or sing. Maybe it left one's mind the freedom to commune with the Lord. Little more is said of these lowly servants for nearly 500 years, until King David put the sons of Merari in charge of Jerusalem's tabernacle music.

Who better to select a praise team to stand in the presence of God 24/7 than the man who authored psalms we still use to praise God three thousand years later? David chose for this most joyous and exalted work those stewards he surely found faithful and cheerful in obediently performing their appointed duty to humble tasks.

Is there any lowly task the Lord might ask of you that you'd struggle to obey? Are you prepared to forsake His unknown reward?

Lord, You know the plans You have for us, to do good in our lives, to give us a future and a hope. Please give us gifts of gratitude and fortitude in whatever appointed duty You put before us. Please give us strength to be obedient, trusting You to reward us in Your perfect timing.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. It's an amazing insight to have when faced with humble tasks that the creator has greater purpose than we can understand. I can't wait to get to heaven and find out the true heft and value of our low and humble lives. Great quote from Billy!

  2. Anne. I confess I love to obey the tasks that bring me a little secondary glory, and get less excited about those God only sees. Bless you.

  3. I want to be whatever God wants me to be, whenever He wants me to be it.

  4. Dear Anne,

    To reduce it to simplicity, almost every form of original American music either descended from or was influenced by the songs of the slaves. Without their rich contributions, which eventually became the African-American spiritual, I would estimate about 90% of whatever you hear on the radio would not exist in its current form.

    Indeed, there is something about repetitive manual labor that both engages and frees the mind, and leads to music-making. In most forms of work, at least before the invention of recorded music, we find a history of song--usually with a strong steady beat to help heft the sledgehammer, harvest the field, crush the grapes.

    To me it's a beautiful analogy of God's way. If I could--as all of us would--I would rewrite history and abolish all forms of slavery. But from the lowly and downtrodden comes the sublime when God is involved. From horrible situations comes the music that changes the world.

    Thank you for this great post. I will carry this with me through the day--she who pursued a degree in music to end up singing "The Farmer In The Dell" (and loving every minute of it, lowly though it is.)

  5. I love manual labor - mowing, painting, sweeping. It clears the brain, makes room for prayer, and you can really see where you've been. Yes, all work is honorable. Great post!

  6. Psalm 119:104
    Through Your precepts I get understanding...

    Simple obedience leads to great understanding and the tasks that seem meaningless when viewed through the lens of understanding take on meaning.

    Thank you for your obedience to faithfully deliver spiritual manna - we don't see the struggles behind the scenes to make it happen, but you know God does and He is singing over you because of it.

  7. Sadly, this post reminded me it's about that time to clean out the gunk of hair that collects in our shower drain. But, I'll do it for God's glory. :D

    Thinking of you and how everything went yesterday!
    ~ Wendy

  8. Helen, I'm so happy to have an "Amen" as first post comment. Thank you!

    T. Anne, we can't simply wait for heaven (as much as I'm also inclined to put ALL my hope there). Eternal life is NOW! God begins giving those rewards in the contentment of our hearts, yes?

    Russell, remember those sayings about not letting the right hand know what the left is doing? About those praised by men already having their reward? PLEASE feel free to remind me of them ...

    Denise, I pray to likewise have such a heart.

    Gwen, I LOVE your application of music to EVERYthing! Just the way I portrayed my character, before I even knew you ...

    Candace, even when my age brings a few more stiff muscles from manual labor, I agree that it is curiously liberating. Thank you for stopping by.

    Doug, there's a whole lot of unseen gratitude and singing in my heart for those words from you. Thank you.

    Wendy, I have an icky stove to go clean that I've already been reminded about this morning ... by my daughter. I love how the Lord keeps us humble. And thank you again for the prayers. Abigail's better. Starting to open her eyes today.

  9. That is one of my favorite verses. Thank you for sharing this, Anne.

  10. I'm so glad Abigail is better.

    I think women have a special understanding of lowly work. Most of us get plenty of it during our children's infant and toddler years. :-) But our instinctual love for our children is so strong that it provides us with an excellent example of what it means to serve with one's whole heart.

  11. I'm with Russell.

    I'd love to say I'm more humble and Godly than that but it's not true... my shame.

  12. Anne, this spoke to me. Our society does judge a person by their job--for shame. We need people in all kinds of positions, and we need to acknowledge everyone's worth through God's eyes.

  13. Bridget, thank YOU for the idea of "just one word" for the blog carnival, and for stopping in.

    Rosslyn, perhaps women do have special help understanding lowly work, and (I think) sacrificial love as well. I suspect the Lord has His own ways of enabling men to understand it, which may be less obvious.

    Peter, it's not about where you are as much as it is about which direction you're headed! ;D

    Eileen, it is to our shame to make such judgments. I sense the Lord is presently doing much to unite His church by allowing us to increasingly see one another through His eyes.

  14. Wow. I do believe that's the first time I've ever been quoted.

    I love manual labor. It's honest work, dirty work, sweaty and tiresome work. And I've often found that the sweatier and more tiresome it is, the greater the wisdom found on the other side.

  15. Mr. Coffey, so far this month I've quoted Charles Spurgeon, Oscar Wilde, Max Lucado, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. You're in good company. ;D

    And I enjoy manual labor myself, for exactly the same reasons. Nothing like worship, writing, or good hard physical work to make a person feel connected to the Creator.


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