His name means: “Jehovah comforts”
He is the governor of the Jews who returned from exile
In the first line we find out that he is the son of Hacaliah. In the Jewish culture, it is all about your paternal heritage. That’s why everyone is mentioned as the “son of so-and-so.” Hacaliah means “wait for Yahweh.” Yahweh is the name God gave himself. I’m a nerd, I like these these kind of details. As my high school english teacher would say “God is in the details!” Oh boy is He!
Verse 1:11 “I was the cupbearer to the king.”
“A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king’s cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage.” (Thank you wikipedia.)
Just from these couple lines we can get an idea of the character of Nehemiah. He is the son of a man waiting for God, a highly renowned officer in the royal court, courageous, honest, and trustworthy leader.
Right from the beginning we find out that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and the gates have been burned. Without a city wall and gate, the people were defenseless against enemies. This brings Nehemiah to tears, fasting and praying to God.
I love it! Immediately Nehemiah turns to God!What is the first thing you do when unfortunate news? What do those prayers sound like?
In chapter 2 we see that Nehemiah is with King Artaxerxes (king of Persia). The king notices how upset he is and Nehemiah tells him what has happened.
“The king said to me, ‘what is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God in heaven,” (v4)
This man is distraught that the wall of Jerusalem is gone, his people are in constant danger, he worried sick over all of this and when the king asks him what he wants, he stops to pray. Amazing! I would just start rambling on about everything, crying, and it would be a big mess!
The king gave him a leave of absence for the trip, a letter for safe travels, and letter for the manager of the forests so he could get the timber required.
He prayed first and then got everything he needed.
Nehemiah gets to the wall with a few other men. It must have been a sad and overwhelming sight. “I also told them about the gracious hand of God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.” (v18) Apparently Nehemiah is quite the motivator! They agreed that this was good work to be done for God. One stone and log at a time they began this good work. Even while they were ridiculed by others, they did the work they were called to do.Are you looking at something that seems a little overwhelming? You feel like just one person trying to build an entire city wall? Let’s try to be more like Nehemiah: pray first and then just start one little step at a time.
Tomorrow’s challenge: chapter 3 & 4