I read the last two chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah this morning, as a part of my annual “Read Through the Bible” program, and ran across this passage:
The book of Nehemiah (along with its companion, Ezra) is the account of the efforts by the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple following their destruction by invading armies. Nehemiah served as the wine taster (cupbearer) for King Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who permitted Nehemiah to travel to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the walls of the city. The Lord’s favor upon the Jewish people is seen clearly throughout this account, as even pagan royalty provides resources and protection for their efforts.
Anyway, the passage quoted above is not important in the overall scheme of things, but it still caught my imagination. Talk about a focused job description: “You’re going to be in charge of the singing, but not of just any songs. Nope; you’re in charge of the songs of thanks.”
I’ll admit that I have no idea if Mattaniah was supposed to write those songs, or catalog them, or sing them, or lead the choir in their singing, but the passage is loose enough to make one think that perhaps it’s all of the above. And I wonder…how would you do that? It would seem that in order to fulfill this responsibility, one would have to live in a constant state of appreciation of one’s blessings. That’s hard to do even during the most pleasant and least stressful of times. I daresay that we don’t even recognize that we’ve been in those times until things get worse, at which point we’re even less inclined to give thanks.
Living with a persistent attitude of gratitude is not easy for most of us to do, but it’s important enough that even the angels in heaven make it a priority. Maybe we need to try to incorporate it into our life’s “job description,” as well.