SHALLUM AND HIS DAUGHTERS
I cannot close these meditations on Old Testament parents and their children, without a glace at Shallum. It was perhaps some thirty years later than Mordecai and Esther that Nehemiah, the King’s Cupbearer, went up to Jerusalem to build the wall. The temple had been completed quite a few years before, but the wall was still in utter ruins, and Nehemiah makes himself sick with sorrow of heart over the matter, so that he endangers his head to the king. But Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and God not only delivers him, but gives him his heart’s desire, that he might go to Jerusalem to build the wall. I will not stop to tell the story, which I am sure you all know, and I hope love. The noble spirit of Nehemiah stirred the hearts of the people, and they came together to the work. The minute details that the Holy Spirit records, of some who built two pieces, some who “did not put their necks to the work of their Lord” (Nehemiah 3:5), all are of the keenest interest. But it is of Shallum, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, and of his daughters, that I was to think for a moment. Probably he was a wealthy man, being ruler of half of Jerusalem. These girls were probably brought up in a nice home, with servants to do the work. It is very possible that their hands were white and soft, and quite unused to hard labor; but at the call to build the wall of Jerusalem, Shallum goes forth himself, not with his servants, not with experienced hired masons, but with his own daughters, (perhaps he had no sons), and these girls, I doubt not, willingly put on their old clothes, and carried away the rubbish, and gathered the stones, and brought the mortar; and the Lord looked on, and recorded it to the eternal ages that the daughters of Shallum were ready to help their father in work that men should have been doing. Brave, good girls! May your daughters be just such as they! And I have no doubt at all that their hands got sore and blistered and cut and bruised, and they just kept right on building the wall. Brave, good girls! I love the daughters of Shallum. I knew a young man who had a number of excellent recommendations, but the one of which he was most proud, was very short: “He is not afraid of getting his hands dirty.” Shallum’s daughters could have had the same recommendation.
As far as I know these girls are the last children with their parents, that we see in the history of the Old Testament, unless we think of the children whose mothers were heathen, and who could not speak the language of Canaan properly; and I have no heart to speak of them; and it seems to me that the picture of these girls, laboring with their father in work for the Lord, is about the most beautiful and most suitable picture we could possible have for a close to our meditations. It is what I have coveted, not for my daughters only, but also for my sons, that together, with one spirit and one mind we may strive together for the faith of the Gospel. (Philippians 1:27.) May God grant it to me; and may He grant it to you!
“Ye know the proof of him, that, AS A SON WITH THE FATHER, he hath served with me in the Gospel.” Philippians 2:22