Nehemiah Expresses Fear
Even though Nehemiah’s heart stayed full of severe sorrow and angst, he served wine to the king and never revealed his countenance or longing to the Persian ruler, King Artaxerxes.
What was the reason for the servant’s deep torment? What was his longing? Remember his prayer? Nehemiah made this same supplication over and over for four months—never giving up his belief God would hear and answer.
v He constantly affirmed God’s love.
v He reminded the Lord of how he prayed day and night on behalf of Israel.
v He confessed the sins of his people.
v He asked God to remember the promises the Almighty had made to Israel’s forefathers.
v His final appeal to God was to find favor with King Artaxerxes, and that the king would grant him his desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They lay in ruin.
As he fulfilled his food and beverage duties to the monarchy, the King suddenly asked Nehemiah, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? You must have sadness of heart.” Nehemiah 2:2 NASB
Oops! Now Nehemiah was suddenly afraid—in fact, he was petrified. His attempts to conceal his feelings had failed. While shaking in his boots, Nehemiah responded to the question with these words, “Let the King live forever. Why should my face not be sad with the city, the place of my father’s tombs lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Nehemiah 2:3 NASB.
“What would you request” King Artaxerxes got to the bottom line in a hurry with that question.
Before he answered, Nehemiah quickly sent up a prayer and then boldly said, “If your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah and allow me to rebuild the city.”
Nehemiah was an exiled Israelite working as a slave. He could have lost his head with that request.
Successful men admit fear. Hmmm. Let’s repeat that phrase. Successful men admit fear.
In his book, a sort of diary, Nehemiah recorded his terror for all posterity to see. These would be facts many of us would wish to hide. Would you want readers to know your personal thoughts two thousand years from now? Here’s a thought. When we discover others who experience similar emotions, the revelation often gives us comfort.
What we attempt to hide, God knows. The Almighty comprehends our hearts and minds. He understands how our blood pressure increases due to panic. Not one cell in our body amazes Him. Our anxiety is not news to Him, but it might be helpful information to others.
What should we do when we experience alarm?
Perhaps Nehemiah recalled the words of Moses as he stood before the king. "Do not be afraid…the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22 NIV
Or perhaps Nehemiah comforted himself with the words of Israel’s revered monarch, King David. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NIV.
We find over three thousand promises in God’s word, and God keeps all of them. In our next addition, we will see how God answered Nehemiah’s prayer. Don’t forget, he was a man who prayed as though the results depended upon God but worked as though the outcome depended on him.
Even with the acknowledgement of fear, Nehemiah proved himself an example to follow.