Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nehemiah 2:1-10

1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?"
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it."
6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
7 I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

Questions to consider:

  • How does God answer Nehemiah’s request for mercy in the king’s presence?
  • What do you pray when a decision must be made quickly?
  • What has preceded Nehemiah’s on the spot prayer?
  • How do Sanballat and Tobiah feel about Nehemiah’s arrival in the province?

Possibilities for prayer:

Did you catch a really important moment at the end of verse 4? Nehemiah prayed to God before he spoke. So often, when we’re in the midst of potentially costly situations (Nehemiah could have lost his life if his request was not received favorably by the king) we think it’s more important to think quickly than to seek GOD in such situations. Today, let’s make an effort to seek God in the midst of difficult situations, and to actually physically pray in response to stress instead of trying to only use our brains to solve the problem. As Nehemiah experienced, God’s favor can go a long way in things working out well!