Nehemiah Was Fearful of What Others Think

Charles Sawyer, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, tells about the planeload of people flying across the Atlantic. A voice comes on the intercom: “We are now flying at 35,000 feet. If you will notice, out the right window, the two engines on that side are on fire, and the en … More


As Nehemiah was going about his usual duties the king noticed that he was sad and asked, “Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick.” (vv. 1-2) At first Nehemiah was frightened because it was dangerous to show sorrow before the king who could execute anyone who displeased him. However, he refused to allow fear to stop him from sharing what God had placed on his heart (v. 3). Nehemiah was careful in replying for he knew that his request was a bold one. A few years earlier the king had stopped the rebuilding of Jerusalem and Nehemiah was asking the order be reversed. 

First Nehemiah prayed and then he appealed to the king’s sense of respect for the dead (v. 4). He asked the king to send him to the city in Judah where his ancestors were buried so that he might rebuild the city (v. 5). The king asked him how long it would take and then gave him permission to go (v. 6). He also asked for a convoy to go with him. Knowing he would face opposition from his enemies, he requested letters of permission from the king to allow him to pass through the various provinces (v. 7). He also asked the king to write a letter to Asaph, the man in charge of the king’s forest (v. 8). Nehemiah knew that he would need timber for rebuilding the gates of the city.

The Bible does not record his immediate answer but we know that he ended up staying 12 years (5:14). Nehemiah states that the king granted what he asked for because the good hand of God was upon him.


Sometimes, when I have needs, I may hesitate to ask the right people to help me because I am afraid to approach them. They may be more interested and approachable than I think. God’s answer to my prayer may come as a result of my asking others to pray.

Nehemiah 2:1-8 (English Standard Version)

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