Nehemiah’s request granted

The book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament features a cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes named Nehemiah who is motivated to return to his homeland of Judah to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. One of the striking characteristics of Nehemiah’s leadership is his dependence on God in his prayers and his reliance on godly wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs.

In chapter 2, God answers Nehemiah’s prayer to have an audience with the king. However, it takes place 4 months later. This may be due to a number of factors: maybe Artaxerxes was not in Susa, the winter residence of Persian kings; maybe he was not in right mood; maybe he was not addressing Nehemiah; or maybe he was being served by other cupbearers. In any event, Artaxerxes sees that Nehemiah is bothered and asks the reason why. Nehemiah seizes on the opportunity, praying to God as he tells the king about Jerusalem’s plight: the city walls are still destroyed and the people are in distress.

Artaxerxes asks what Nehemiah wants, so he requests that the king gives him a release from his job, time to assess and plan wall rebuilding, protection on the journey to Jerusalem, and supplies for the task. Artaxerxes grants him all he desires. As God is blessing Nehemiah’s plans, Proverbs 27:18 is on display: “The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.” Likewise, Proverbs 14:35 says, “A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.”

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