A Look at Nehemiah Chapter Two

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Chapter Two of Nehemiah tells us of Nehemiah’s supplication before the king Artaxerxes, and his trip back to Judah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. If you haven’t read my post on Chapter One of Nehemiah, read it here.

Nehemiah Chapter Two

I’ll start this off right where the last post ended. Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer, responsible for making sure Artaxerxes’ food and drink was suitable for consumption and that it wasn’t poisoned. Nehemiah would have to taste the king’s food and drink before the king himself did, and if it was poisoned Nehemiah would drop dead.

One thing that may not be commonly known is that it wasn’t uncommon in those days for the king to have a depressed looking cupbearer killed for appearing sad in his presence. Chapter two takes us to a time four months after Nehemiah first learned of the state of Jerusalem and those Jews who had escaped and survived captivity.

Nehemiah has been praying before God for four months when finally his opportunity arises. The king notices that Nehemiah’s expression is downfallen and rightly claims that Nehemiah is not sick, so his sadness must be of the heart. The fact that Artaxerxes didn’t respond in wrath indicates that he trusted Nehemiah a great deal. He understood the fact that this man who had never appeared sad in his presence before was doing so at that time and that there must be some valid reason behind it. He knew Nehemiah. He was with him everyday. So, he asks Nehemiah what’s wrong.

Nehemiah takes his opportunity, and though he was afraid that he would be put to death for his depressed appearance, he trusted in God and told the king of the state of the land of his ancestors. The king must like Nehemiah quite a lot because he doesn’t just throw the man’s concerns to the side, he asks him what he would request.

Nehemiah requests letters of safe travel and letters allowing him to get wood to rebuild the gates of teh citadel, the city wall, and his own house which he would occupy. The king grants him these things, along with soldiers as well. Nehemiah has a lot of favor in the eyes of Artaxerxes, and it is on full display here. Not only that, but he has favor in the eyes of God, which is far more important. Nehemiah humbled himself before God and God responded in a very powerful way.

Nehemiah was different. There was something about him, like all great men of the Bible, that set him apart and made him a pivotal figure in our Earthly history. He believed in God and His promises with every part of himself, and God looked on that with favor.

How many Nehemiah’s have been born and died without ever having fulfilling their Godly potential because of people like me who weren’t where God wanted me to be, when I needed to be there, to fulfill some role in a the life of another that would help them? How many people have I failed because I was too busy to read the Bible and spend time with God so that when He spoke I would be ready to hear?

When it was Nehemiah’s turn to step up and trust in the Lord, he did so. I pray God gives me the courage to do the same. Not so that I can be important, but so that I can further the Kingdom of God and increase the population of heaven. That’s what I want.

Until tomorrow,
JP

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