NEHEMIAH

The following comments are from Navigator's and Quiet Time Diary journals. One verse will be entered, then the comment, then the date.

1:3    They said to me, "The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire."

    This is basic to the theme of this book. The people who were in Jerusalem had not rebuilt the walls of the city, and that was needed for their protection from "outside forces" who didn't want them there.
    After Nehemiah prayed for direction, King Artaxerxes gave him permission to go to Jerusalem to direct the rebuilding of the wall.
    We are always to pray to the Lord before making any big - or little - decisions. Following the Lord's will is priority, no matter what we may think. (DRM 12/29/15)

1:4    When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before God of heaven.

    Nehemiah's son had just seen the destruction of Jerusalem's walls and was beginning a prayer with the following verses.
    Many times when we see others suffering and trials we are heartless and show no sympathy. While it seems impossible to suffer for others, we should keep them in our prayers and offer their problems to the Lord for His action in their behalf, besides our own requests. (DRM 1/13/87)

1:5    I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

    This is just the beginning of a prayer that Nehemiah prayed to the Lord concerning the state of the people and city of Jerusalem, as the walls were still broken down and the citizens were in distress. (v. 3)
    Before undertaking ANY major project, the Lord wants us to pray to Him for direction. As Christians, Christ followers, we have to follow His direction, not our (my) own. (DRM 2/1/09)

1:9    . . .  but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.'

    Nehemiah was praying and quoting what the Lord said in Deuteronomy 30:2-4. He was praying God's promise back to God. This prayer was not that Nehemiah would go and do the work, but requesting permission from God - it still had to be answered.
    I know I have been guilty at times of praying to do something for the Lord, but never hearing His response. This can be frustrating, but it's really the answer "wait."
    I/we should not only pray to the Lord, but also wait for His response. He will answer when He is ready. (DRM 3/19/15)

    Today's passage contains a beautiful insight into what makes our future in heaven so wonderful. In verse 9, Nehemiah quotes Moses saying that God will bring His people into the place where His name dwells. It is God's presence that makes our future worth waiting for. (Our Daily Bread INSIGHT 3/19/15)

1:11    "O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servant s who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man."
    Now I was the cupbearer to the king.

    Nehemiah had just been told the condition of Jerusalem (v. 3) and felt mournful (v. 4) for the holy city of his faith.
    This verse is the last part of his prayer to the Lord before he went to serve the King. He had prayed to the Lord God for days before he was to see the king (v. 4).
    God hears our prayers and answers them as He chooses. The hard part is to accept answers that aren't OUR choice and to follow Him - as He knows best. (DRM 9/8/12)

    The Highest form of prayer comes from the depths of a humble heart. (from Our Daily Bread, 9/8/12)

2:2    So the king said to me, "Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart." Then I was very much afraid.

    Occasionally I have been told that I am "transparent," in that my face shows how I feel - physically or mentally. Apparently Nehemiah was the same way - as he was thinking about rebuilding Jerusalem while he was "at work." The king wanted to help Nehemiah and arranged for him to go to Jerusalem and even authorized wood (v. 8) to help with the project. (DRM 2/2/09)

2:5    I said to the king, "If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it."

    When I think of the book of Nehemiah, I think of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. In this verse Nehemiah asks King Artaxerxes for permission to leave Babylon.
    Nehemiah and Ezra were in charge of the reconstruction - but not without trouble from the "neighbors."
    Nehemiah prayed to the Lord throughout the book and reminds us of the importance of prayer for all aspects of our lives. (DRM 9/2/13)

2:8    . . . and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go." And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.

    Nehemiah had been praying about the condition of Jerusalem - which was in ruins (1:3). He was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Babylon and presented his request to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates.
    Nehemiah had a plan, as this verse shows. He would need the materials and also needed the king to approve them.
    Clearly, Nehemiah's prayers were answered by receiving the king's permission. When we ask God for things, He often works through other people. God DOES hear and answers prayer! (DRM 4/25/17)

2:17    Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.

    Nehemiah inspected the walls of the city during the night (v. 12) as the people in Jerusalem didn't know the reason for his arrival (v. 12). He wanted to see how bad it really was. Today he would have taken a camera for "before" pictures.
    Before doing anything for the Lord, or in life, we (I) should also look over the situation, pray about it, then decide a plan of action. (DRM 2/3/09)

2:18    I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work.

    Nehemiah was the wine steward for King Artaxerxes (2:1) in Babylon. God had led him to have concern about Jerusalem and its condition.
    The King granted Nehemiah permission to rebuild the walls (2:8) and Nehemiah just arrived in Jerusalem, inspected the walls, then spoke to the "Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest who did the work" (2:16)
    When presented with God's clear direction, they were willing to do the work. When God clearly gives us direction, we should also do as He leads - no delay or procrastination. (DRM 2/1/17)

2:20b    The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.

    No matter how we feel, we belong to the Lord God. Nehemiah just got permission to rebuild Jerusalem from a fire that had destroyed the city.
    People criticized what he did and will also criticize us for our beliefs, but we must continue to be faithful, as we belong to Him! (DRM 6/8/87)

3:12    Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.

    In this first half of the third chapter, it describes who made repairs to the wall and what families were involved. I think the point is that everyone worked together on their part of the whole effort. In this verse women (daughters) were mentioned, so it wasn't limited to just a few good men. God can use all willing hands for His work. (DRM 2/4/09)

3:13a    Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate.

    This chapter deals with the rebuilding of the gates of Jerusalem. I believe this to be the same time period as in Ezra Chps. 1-6 (DRM 10/28/88)

3:28    Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house.

    It's hard for me to comment on this full chapter of who repaired the walls of Jerusalem. In this verse and v. 29, there is the comment that the people repaired the wall "in front of their house," which made it convenient. Still, they all worked together, as I wrote yesterday. (DRM 2/5/09)

4:1    Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews.

    Like today,  many people don't like the Jews and don't want them in their neighborhood.
    In this verse, Sanballat must have been a leader of a kingdom or city near Jerusalem, and didn't want the Jews to rebuild. His criticism caused the Jews in Jerusalem to be more determined to work on the completion of the wall - as they felt they would be attacked (vv 6-7) (v. 17). They knew this was God's will.
    Satan seems to put hatred for the Jewish people in the minds of many people. I don't know what causes this. It seems that without the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness for perceived or actual sins. (DRM 3/2/15)

4:9    But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

    The "neighbors" were very angry (v. 1, 7) that the wall was being rebuilt and would do anything they could think of to discourage the Jews (v. 3). For a while they were discouraged (v. 5), but overcame their discouragement (v. 9) by their prayers to God.
    I have gone through a similar trial, but wonder if I have prayed enough. This is a reminder on how important prayer is to overcome discouragement. (DRM 2/6/09)

4:16    From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah.

    They found out that the enemies of the city intended to attack from within if possible (v. 11), so they needed protection from all sides as they continued the work.
    In the same way we (I) need spiritual protection when we (I) work for the Lord to do the things He wants me to do - this is a spiritual war - and our defense is prayer for spiritual protection. (DRM 2/7/09)

4:19, 20    I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. 20At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us."

    The neighbors (v. 7) were very angry as the walls were being rebuilt in Jerusalem. They planned to cause a disturbance to stop the work (v. 8). Nehemiah knew the walls needed to be defended and the city was large enough that trumpeters were needed so others would know if one side was attacked.
    Nehemiah knew that God directed this project in the first place, so He would defend their work if they were attacked.
    When we know that God wants something done and can use us, there's no doubt He will get it accomplished. (DRM 5/10/16)

    We who are building God's kingdom need to arm ourselves against the attack of our spiritual enemy, Satan. Our protection is the sword of the Spirit, which is God's Word. (from Our Daily Bread 5/10/16)

4:23    Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water. 

     "Be prepared" could be the title for this verse. It seemed that the Israelites would be attacked and they prepared themselves. We should also be prepared to meet Christ at any minute! (DRM 10/29/88)

5:3    There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine."

    From verse seven, Nehemiah said, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother!" As a part of the family of Christ, we should not be charging interest to others in the family when they are in need. This seem logical, but I doubt that many follow this in today's world either. It seems that every one was (is) watching out for only themselves. What would Jesus do? (DRM 2/8/09)

5:12    "We will give it back," they said. "And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say."

    In this verse, I am reminded of children listening to the authority figure of parents. When we do something wrong, our parents (or God) will convict us of the fact and ask us to make amends. (DRM 10/30/88)

5:19    Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

    For 12 years (v. 14) Nehemiah took nothing from the food, taxes or storehouse (governor's food allowance). Somehow, the Lord provided him with the ability and graciousness to feed and provide for 150 Jews and officials daily (v. 17).
    Nehemiah depended on the Lord for his needs, and they were provided. At the end of the chapter, he wrote this short prayer - which shows his devotion to the Lord. (DRM 2/9/09)

6:6    In it [letter] was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports.

    Sanballat and Geshem (v. 2) apparently were kings or leaders of neighboring cities. It seemed that their purpose at the time was to stop Nehemiah from completing the wall in Jerusalem.
    People who don't worship our God will do anything to hinder our progress in serving Him. I know that's the case for me.
    Nehemiah was wise to put off their letters of appeal at least four times (v. 4). When the Lord directs us to do a project for Him, we are to ignore the scoffers like Nehemiah did. (DRM 1/26/15)

6:9    They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed." But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."

    As I also move on a course that is designed to serve the Lord, I know I will be criticized by some. I must also pray for God's help to strengthen me! (DRM 2/18/88)

6:15, 16    So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.

    The Jews worked together and finished the repairs in just 52 days! Now that the wall was complete, the enemies saw that they failed at their goal of stopping it - admitting that the city of Jerusalem was meant to continue. Like these enemies, Satan keeps putting obstacles in my (our) path to stop us from doing the Lord's work - but we (I) have to be persistent and keep trying. (DRM 2/10/09)

7:66, 67    The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 245 men and women singers.

    The number of people working on the rebuilding of Jerusalem was staggering to my mind. To have nearly 50,000 people working for God in one place, is truly something to be proud of . . . (DRM 10/31/88)

8:1    And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.

    The walls at Jerusalem were finished (6:15), a census of the people was completed (7:66), but the temple was not yet built, as they met in the square. Over the years the people had not heard the law of Moses (first five books of the Bible), thus Ezra read it to them that day.
    In today's world it's hard to imagine a time when there were no books to read and the priest read to the people from a scroll. We can read the Bible today every day (and should!) and to think of all the versions and translations. We have no excuse for not knowing what God's Word says. (DRM 6/17/16)

8:3    He [Ezra] read from it [the Law] before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until mid-day, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

    I have been to far more than 1,000 worship services over the years and can tell you that most people today get uncomfortable after about one hour in church. I remember one service that I went to continued four hours before I left. To read this verse shows that the people were genuinely interested and wanted to hear the words of the Lord God. How would we (I) do today if this occurred? How long is my (our) attention span? (DRM 2/11/09)

8:5    Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.

    Ezra was reading the law (v. 2) or the Torah or what we would call the Bible to the people gathered at the Water Gate in Jerusalem.
    At least in this case, the Word of God was respected because the people had just returned from 70 years of captivity.
    Today, very few churches give the Bible the same honor that is illustrated here. I HAVE been to churches where people are TOLD to stand up during the reading of the Bible, but most churches don't.
    At least we (I) should honor the Lord by reading and trying to understand His Word daily. (DRM 1/2/14)

8:8    They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

    They read from the "Bible" and spoke to people explaining its meaning. To visualize this, and on the first day of the week. . . I can only visualize an outdoor "church service." People learned to worship God in this way even in that time period! (DRM 11/1/88)

8:9    Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

    We know this occurred on the first day of the seventh month (v. 2). It was set aside to be a Holy Day.
    God spoke through the reading of the Law (v. 2) and the people listened and were affected by their weeping.
    God can speak to us ANY day of the week, not just the Sabbath (Saturday) or Resurrection Day (Sunday). We can hear His voice the other days also. (DRM 2/3/13)

9:2    The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

    Here is a great similarity between the Jews of Israel and Christians of today. The difference today is that Christians depend on Jesus' death and resurrection to cover our sins, whereas the Jews don't. Either way, we need to confess our sins to God=Jesus. (DRM 2/12/09)

9:11    You divided the sea before them,
           So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground;
           And their pursuers You hurled into the depths,
           Like a stone into raging waters.

    This is part of a review of the exodus - as related by Nehemiah about 1,000 years after it occurred.
    Since the Bible was not in its current form, it seems logical to me that most people from Nehemiah's time hadn't read Moses' writing of the exodus, thus this is a condensed version.
    It's always good to reflect on the miracles that God has done in the past - because He is still alive and working in individuals and world events today. (DRM 11/18/13)

9:20    You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.

    The Israelites were God's chosen people, and He gave them everything while in the wilderness. This verse includes the gift of the Spirit - which Christians receive upon rebirth. (DRM 11/3/88)

10:31a,b    When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day.

    This verse goes along with one of the 10 Commandments in observing the Sabbath. While I have tried to observe this law, I believe that by trusting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior , that He will pardon me for occasional spending. (DRM 11/5/88)

11:1    Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns.

    Overpopulation of 2,500 years ago? Not really. A walled city can hold just so many people, and this chapter lists who went to Jerusalem and how many. (DRM 11/6/88)

12:31    Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall, and I appointed two great choirs, the first proceeding to the right on top of the wall toward the Refuse Gate.

    While I know little about the other religions of the world, I have a hard time visualizing them singing to their god. Could it be that only Jews and Christians sing to God? In any case, as this verse reminds me, we have been singing and playing music for the Lord God for thousands of years - and I think He enjoys it. (DRM 2/13/09)

12:40    The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials.

    Choir is important to every church. Singing praises pleases God immensely! No matter how bad it may seem that we are singing, it is a sweet sound to Him! (DRM 11/7/88)

12:43    . . . and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.

    This was a time of celebration. The wall around Jerusalem was completed. Apparently there were two choirs of singers that stood on top of the wall (v. 31) for the dedication.
    Besides the events at the wall, there were also sacrifices at the temple (v. 45) to celebrate the event. All the people were involved in some way.
    God=Jesus doesn't restrict who can worship Him. He wants all to come, not a select few.
    Someday we will see a New Jerusalem with walls around it. All who have put their trust in Jesus will be able to live in that city and celebrate like these people did at that time - with the Sacrifice already provided. (DRM 12/10/16)

13:7, 8    . . . and I came to Jerusalem and learned about the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, by preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. 8It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah's household goods out of the room.

    This makes me think of how Jesus threw the tables of the money-changers in the temple (Matt. 21:12). In both instances someone (or many) decided to do something in the temple that was not sacred to the Lord God. Here, the priest Eliashib let his relative Tobiah move into the temple with his furniture! The temple, or Holy Place, is to be a special place only for worship of God=Jesus. (DRM 2/14/09)

13:25a,b    I (Nehemiah) rebuked them (men who intermarried) and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God's name. . .

    Nehemiah was sure what God wanted him to do and did it. He wasn't afraid of the consequences.
    Lord, help me to also do your will without fear. (DRM 11/8/88)