Monday, December 7, 2009

The Dung Paddle

Thou shalt have a place also without the camp,
whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon;
and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad,
thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back
and cover that which cometh from thee
Deuteronomy 23:12-13

As the Israelites marched through the Wilderness of Sin, YHWH dictated a special command to the Israeli soldiers when they reconnoitered enemies or marched into battle. Among their weaponry and tools, YHWH instructed the warriors to carry with them a dung paddle or spade. If a soldier needed to relieve himself, he was to go outside the camp, dig a hole for his dung, and then cover it with dirt. No doubt this command implies both practical and ethical meaning, the former hygienic and the latter symbolic. In truth YHWH's army still marches through the Wilderness of Sin, and we still need our dung paddles.

When I was a headmaster, I used the dung paddle as an illustration to teach my faculty and staff how to get rid of, well, let's just call it "dung," anything that polluted the school environment: gossip, unkindness, criticism, anger, triteness, foolishness, superficiality, wasted time, foolish words, bad ideas, and anything else that "stunk": "If its dung," I would tell them, "get rid of it, bury it, cover it up, and certainly do not bring it to me." This applies to all professions, and everyone who works with other human beings knows how one's own and others' "dung" fouls the environment. "dung" also pollutes every imaginable setting: families, churches, social networks, etc. We might not always understand it, but we know it when we smell it (:>).

So let every soldier remember - that strange contraption hanging by your sword, the dung paddle, is there for a reason. You will need it often, probably every day, so use it. Get the stuff out of your camp, get rid of it, bury it, forget it, and march on.


Jimmy said...

Thanks for that post Dear Brother. What a practical illustration for every day in the Christian life; for if my life stinks; certainly no one is going to listen to my words.

Jimmy Downing said...

Thanks for the post Dear Brother. Certainly needful for me to hear.

Tis so true that if my conduct as a Christian stinks; and I do not strive to mortify and bury those besetting sins which still exist in my life; no one will enter into my camp to hear my words. I will be ineffective as a witness for Jesus Christ.