The desolation and distresses of the church should deeply concern the Christian and move him to earnest prayer, for there is no other method for bringing relief to God’s people, or directions for ourselves as to the way in which we should render help.
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
4 ¶ And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.
Nehemiah 1 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Nehemiah 1:1-3 – J. Vernon McGee
Nehemiah 1:4 – J. Vernon McGee
Nehemiah 1:5-6 – J. Vernon McGee
Nehemiah 1:7-11 – J. Vernon McGee
Nehemiah 1 – A Patriot’s Prayer
Though living in luxury, in the winter palace of the Persian kings, Nehemiah’s heart was keenly sensitive to all that affected his people. But he turned from tears to prayer, from man to God. Oh, that we could cry and sigh for the rents and breaches in the Church of God. We should deal much more successfully with men, if, like Nehemiah, we dealt more largely with God. Gordon used to say that he had met and conquered his enemies before he saw them. This prayer of Nehemiah’s is very beautiful, saturated as it is with quotations from Scripture, and so effective with God, because based on His own Word. It was steeped in tears of contrition for sin, and offered without ceasing day and night. Nor was it solitary, for there seems to have been a little band of others united with him, Nehemiah 1:11. Lord, teach us to pray thus, till others are found kneeling with us. Here is a good petition for us as we go forth to our daily calling, in which so much depends on the attitude of our fellow-men. Prosper thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Nehemiah 1:11—I was the king’s cupbearer.
The post was an important one. It gave its occupant the opportunity of coming into close contact with the king; it implied a character of unusual trustworthiness, since Oriental despots were very afraid of poison. But no one expected a royal cupbearer to do anything very heroic. He lived in the inner part of the palace, and was necessarily excluded from the great deeds of the stirring outward world. Nehemiah also was evidently a humble and retiring man. His response to the story of the ruined condition of Jerusalem was just a flood of tears and prayer to the God of heaven. And had you seen those tears and heard that prayer, you might have thought that just another flower was drooping, another seed falling into the ground to die.
But this was not all. These prayers and tears were supplemented by an earnest purpose, which was maturing with every hour. He gave himself to God to be used, if God would have it so, as an instrument in the execution of His recorded purpose. He was a man of faith. It mattered little enough that he was only a cupbearer, for that was no barrier to God; indeed, God might work more efficiently through a frail, weak man, than through the prince, the soldier, or the orator, since He cannot give His glory to another. What a glorious faith was his, which dared to believe that through his yielded life God could pour His mighty rivers! Why do we not yield ourselves in our helplessness to God, and ask Him to work through us, to fulfill His mighty purposes?
We kneel, how weak! We rise, how full of power!
Why therefore should we do ourselves this wrong
Or others—that we are not always strong!” —Our Daily Homily