Nehemiah 2

The Christian should be concerned in the sorrows and desolations of others, having a deep concern for God’s honor. When prayer is sincerely offered, it is sure to be seconded with serious endeavors to render aid.

1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

9 ¶ Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.

11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.

12 ¶ And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.

13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.

15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.

16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

17 ¶ Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.

18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 2:1-11 – A Patriot’s Self-Sacrifice

   The seventh month answers to our March or April, so that four months had passed since Nehemiah had set himself to special prayer. Between the king’s second question and Nehemiah’s answer, the simple-hearted cup-bearer found time to pray to the God of heaven. Then, with the assurance that God was with him, he did not scruple to ask great things: that he might be sent to the city of his fathers to build it, and that he might receive all the materials necessary for its construction. But he is careful to record that his requests were granted, not by the clemency of the king, but according to the good hand of God. Do we recognize that good hand enough? We get glimpses here into the inner workings of this man’s heart. He felt that God had put His holy purpose there. He did not hesitate to confess this to the Jews and amid the opposition and scorn of their foes; he strengthened himself in his God, sure that He would not have brought him so far to put him to shame. Be sure you are on God’s side, and nothing will be impossible to you. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Nehemiah 2:4—So I prayed to the God of Heaven.

   All around the apartment in which this interview took place were effigies of idol gods: perhaps incense was burning before a shrine, and filling the air with its aroma. But Nehemiah, though standing amid these heathen emblems, and in the presence of the greatest king on earth, thought little of either one or the other, and prostrated himself in spirit before the throne of heaven. Remember that thou hast within thee a shrine, a temple into which at any moment, even amid the excitement of au earthly court, thou mayest retire and ask direction of thy King and Friend.
   He had been sorely startled by the king’s question; he did not know that his face had betrayed him. He had, doubtless, intended to seek an interview with the king, and formally state the whole case (see Nehemiah 1:11). But to be taken thus at unawares, to have to state his case on the spur of the moment, appeared to take him at a great disadvantage; and he instinctively turned to prayer.
   How little the king knew what was transpiring, or what had happened between his question and the reply which was given, apparently, without the loss of a moment. But how beautiful is the example for ourselves! You cannot acquire this habit of ejaculatory prayer unless you spend prolonged periods in holy fellowship. But when you are much with God in private, you will not find it difficult at any moment to step aside to ask Him a question. The busy mart or the crowded street may at any time become the place of prayer.
       “A touch divine
          And the scaled eyeball owns the mystic rod;
       Visibly through His garden walketh God.” —Our Daily Homily

Nehemiah 2:4 – ​Ejaculatory prayer has this advantage – it flies up to heaven before the devil can get a shot at it. (Rowland Hill)

Nehemiah 2:12-20 – Braving Ridicule and Treachery

   Active opposition, Nehemiah 2:7-12. In time of hostility, our friends and allies are apt to grow discouraged and to advise the suspension of our work. “We are not able” (Nehemiah 4:10); but faith looks to God alone and triumphantly holds on its way.
   Suspicion, Nehemiah 2:12-20. Sanballat was probably a Moabite, a native of Horonaim; Tobiah had been a slave. There are many descendants of these two men in all our Christian communities today, hindering God’s work. This heroic soul met their scorn and the depression of the people by unwavering faith and calm confidence in the good hand of God, Nehemiah 2:18. How small do our difficulties seem when brought into the sight of the God of heaven! —Through the Bible Day by Day