In previous chapter on Nehemiah, we looked at how he prepared himself spiritually, how prayed, interceding for the remnant in Jerusalem and confessing with them their sin before God. And we looked at how he looked to God to be faithful to His promise of restoration when Israel confessed and repented. Today we will look at Nehemiah the man with a plan. Preparation, prayer, promise and plan. In ch 1: 11 we read how his prayer concludes..
O Lord , let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man” Before we look at the question of ” this man” lets notice that Nehemiah also refers to other people praying, which he describes as ” the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.” I speculate , I think quite safely, that this refers to numerous Israelites in Susa who Nehemiah has asked to pray along with him, much in the same way as Ester asked God’s people to join her in prayer before she went in before the King. Everything in Nehemiah’s plan hinged upon the resp0nse of ” this man” and this man’s favor would be a direct answer to prayer.
Nehemiah goes on to explain. who ” this man” was. . “I was cupbearer to the king.” This man is no other than King Artexerxes the ruler of the Medo/Persion empire, of which Judea was a mere province. Of course there is immense providence in the circumstance that Nehemiah is his cupbearer and had therefore direct access to him. A cupbearer, chose and tasted the wine that the king himself would drink both to assure its quality and its freedom from poisen. To have such a position can only mean that Nehemiah was trusted absolutely by king Artexerxes. How would Nehemiah, an exile from a foreign land and race rise to such a position. We can only assume that on the one hand he must have been a man of excellent character, and of a gracious and noble disposition, and on the other hand he must have had a great deal of favor with the Lord. I would also like to suggest that Nehemiah served the King out of love. Like king David with the king of Gath or Daniel with Nebuchadnezzer Nehemiah was someone whom Artaxerxes enjoyed and trusted. Others served the king out of fear, or ambition, but Nehemiah had a genuine affection for him . Like queen Ester, the Lord raised him up and placed him in this position for ” such a time as this”. Here we see God and His man. God who for-knew, the needs of His people, made preparation for them by enabling His servant Nehemiah to obtain this influential position with the king, so that, in the fullness of time, Nehemiah, would be able to obtain the Kings support for the restoration of Jerusalem.
This is such an important lesson, which we must not miss or undervalue. The relationship between Nehemiah and Artaxerxes was God given and key to the restoration of Jerusalem. We could make the case that Jerusalem was restored by the love Nehemiah showed to Artaxerxes. And Artaxerxes was probably not all that easy to love. He was an oriental despot who could do anything he wanted. He could kill any man, take any woman, have anything he wanted. And yet he was still a man with the need to be loved, not for what he could give, or the power he had, but simply for himself and Nehemiah alone, of all his servants had the grace through God to love him in this manner. This is our greatest asset as Gods people. We can love in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can raise above fear, and ambition, and personal resentments and racism, and love for Jesus sake. And who knows what future revival may hinge upon the love we show to the people in our lives. Think of the possible relationships,:a student with his teacher or principal, a worker with his boss, a business man with his banker.. We usually take the people who are over us for granted and seldom stop to think that they are people with needs too. And we may not see it as our place to concern ourselves with their needs. But all people, even those in positions of power, perhaps particularly these people, need someone to care for them. Who knows but that the Lord may have a purpose in your developing a relationship with those who are over you. Lord give us grace to love all people, everywhere, all the time.