Nehemiah 1 Nehemiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem with Broken-down Walls

“The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, that I sat down and wept….

Nehemiah’s prayer: 1:1-11. In 446 B.C. Nehemiah is a high official in the Persian court. He is distraught when he hears of conditions in Judea.  Nehemiah is cupbearer to Artaxerxes in Susa when a brother brings news of the Jewish settlementt in Judah. The news is discouraging. The small colony is in trouble, the walls of Jerusalem still broken down. Ezra 4:6-23 reports the intrigue against the Jews which led to a royal command not to rebuild that city. This has disgraced the Judeans and left them helpless in case of an attac,. Nehemiah mourns, fasts, and prays. Nehemiah also determines to act.

Nehemiah. One of the major values of this book is to be found in biographical study of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a wealthy official in the Persian capital who sacrificed his own comfort to serve God and his people. His courage in the face of opposition, consistent personal example of commitment to godliness, unwavering trust, and fierce determination that God’s people must obey His Law, are displayed over and over again in this short book.

Ruined walls (1:1-4). Unwalled cities in ancient times had no defense against enemies. More significant at this time, unwalled cities were dismissed as insignificant. Thus, for Jerusalem to lack walls was a disgrace to the city God had chosen – and brought dishonor to the Lord! The Jew had tried earlier to rebuild the walls (Ezra 4:7-23), but had given up. Nehemiah saw this as a continuation of the Jews’ historic pattern of sinning against God by lack of dedication to His laws (Neh. 1:5-11).

–>  Ruined walls of Jerusalem reminds me of the churches infiltrated by apostasy and ecumenism.  It is time to repent, fast and pray.  Instead, many churches under the guidance of false teachers are celebrating “togetherness and oneness with other religions.”

Cupbearer” (1:11). The apocryphal book of Tobit (1:22), which also comes from the Persian period, speaks of one cupbearer as “keeper of the signet, administrator and treasurer under Sennacherib.” In the ancient world the cupbearer (masqeh) was an influential official with direct and constant access to the king.

1  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan [1] the citadel, 2  that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3  And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” 4  So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5  And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You [2] and observe Your [3] commandments, 6  please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.

7  We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8  Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; [4] 9  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.

11  O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.



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