The Night-Watchman

The Night Watchman, by Rembrandt

Does anyone reading this suffer from insomnia? I am awake again in the wee small hours as I write this, and the idea that has entered my head is “night-watchman”.

I spent several of my university vacations working as a security guard to make some money to support my grant. There were few other casual jobs available at the time, due to a recession, and though the hourly pay was poor, one could pack quite a few hours into a week. This was before the European working time directive, of course. I found myself working at different locations around London most nights, sometimes a lonely factory, sometimes a vast office block, sometimes a school or college, sometimes a retail park or department store. As a naive youngster, I found all this rather fascinating: the snazzy uniform (including peaked cap, and whistle!), seeing behind the scenes, staying up all night, hourly check calls, two-way radios, patrols, security systems, and seeing the sun rise.

"Stupid boy!"

As a fan of thriller and horror films, I also loved the continuous risk of being spooked by some unforeseen turn of events, and the thrill of having to deal with it single handed!! In reality, I more closely resembled Private Pike, from ‘Dad’s Army’.

One met other security guards at hand-over, and a varied bunch they were. I met several very religious types, the most memorable being a gaunt and staring follower of eastern spirituality, who lived on nothing but rice and beans, and who had a very detached and, to me, disturbing ‘air’ about him– and I’m not referring to his digestion!

The Bible refers to watchmen on many occasions. Here are some:


Increased in number.

  • Jeremiah 51:12 Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.

Vigilant night and day.

  • Isaiah 21:8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

Sounded an alarm at the approach of enemies.

  • Ezekiel 33:2-3 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

Vigilance of, vain without God’s protection.

  • Psalms 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Were relieved by turns.

  • Nehemiah 7:3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.

Danger of sleeping on their posts, referred to.

  • Matthew 28:13-14 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Neglecting to give warning punished with death.

  • Ezekiel 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

Often interrogated by passengers.

  • Isaiah 21:11 The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?


Of ministers.

  • Isaiah 62:6 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
  • Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
  • Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Of careless ministers.

  • Isaiah 56:10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

Of anxiously waiting for God.

  • Psalms 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.


Every Christian is called to be a watchman, to patrol first their own soul, and with greater experience, the souls of others. This is a spiritual duty, not a worldly one! Watching the newsfeeds 24/7 is only a distraction from this.

A watchman alone is of no use: he must stay in REGULAR contact with his superiors, and when threat is perceived, must call for help FIRST, lest he be overwhelmed. Slothful slumber is the greatest enemy of all.

Stay awake!


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Night-Watchman

  1. kathleen says:

    And this one, in Our Lord’s own words in the Garden of Gethsemane when He found the Apostles asleep after He had asked them to stay awake with Him:

    “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26, v.41)

  2. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    An interesting and refreshing post from Br. Burrito on insomnia and night watchmen. The sleeplessness I recognise and I am interested in how others handle it. Night shifts are another thing, and I found that after a few months I lost weight, even though I ate normally.

    Br B refers to the European Working Time Directive, a very fine piece of legislation which still does not apply in the UK, for Britain would not sign up to it, preferring ‘magnificent isolation’ from progressive working conditions and time for the family for its wealth producers.

  3. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    A tad off topic, but the ‘Vatican Insider’ of 2/24/12 reports on the correctly described “hateful and hostile acts” of vandalism in the daubing of Jerusalem Christian churches.

    It’s rather like the burning of the Koran by Americans in Afganistan. (sigh) . What is to be done?

  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Excuse me – that date should read 24/2/12. I am not a North American person .

  5. Wolf M. says:

    If it is alright, I’d like to use your comments on the Scripture to promote an event at my Parish…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s