June 21: Position, Prayer, and Strategy
Nehemiah 1:1–3:32; 1 John 4:13–15; Psalm 108:1–13
Trying to make a difference in the world can be disheartening; it’s easy to feel like merely a drop in the bucket.
When Nehemiah first heard about the suffering of His people, he could have been discouraged. When he learned that the returned exiles were “in great trouble and shame,” living in a city with no walls (Neh 1:3), he could have said, “I’d love to help, but what can I do from this far away?” Instead, he decided to take action (Neh 1:3), and he did so thoughtfully. Rather than making a rash decision, he prayed (Neh 1:4–8). He then volunteered to be the one to help God’s people (Neh 1:9–11), even though doing so meant risking his life.
As the cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah recognized his unique place of influence and acted upon it (Neh 2:1–3). He chose to appear saddened before the most powerful man in the world by hanging his head. His actions could have been perceived as a sign of disrespect, which was punishable by severe beatings and even death. But God protected Nehemiah, and the king honored his request (Neh 2:4–6).
Nehemiah’s initial actions show his character, but his later actions show his leadership. He moved from being a man of influence to a man of strategy. Immediately upon arriving in the city, Nehemiah inspected the city walls, found the craftsman, and began his work (Neh 2:11–3:32). He realized the urgency of his task; his people needed this wall to survive against the surrounding nations.
Nehemiah’s story offers an example of identifying providence, responding to the pain of others through prayer, and acting strategically. It’s a lesson in what it means to be a leader who follows God’s leadership. Nehemiah stands as an example of one who takes action that is well-researched, strategic, and prayerful.
What are some ways you are providentially positioned to do God’s work? How have you led while following His leadership?
John D. Barry
- The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. In the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in the palace of Shushan, Came Hanani, one of my brethren, he and the men of Judah, and I asked them concerning the Jews that were delivered, which were of the residue of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The residue that are left of the captivity there in the province, are in great affliction and in reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire. And when I heard these words, I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. And said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him, and observe his commandments, I pray thee let thine ears be attent, and thine eyes open, to hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee daily, day and night for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee, both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have grieviously sinned against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandest thy servant Moses. I beseech thee, remember the word that thou commandest thy servant Moses, saying, Ye will transgress, and i will scatter you abroad among the people. But if ye return unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them, though your scatterign were to the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather you from thence, and will bring you unto the place that I have chosen in place my Name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy mighty hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let thine ear now hearken to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy Name, and I pray thee, cause thy servant to prosper this day, and give him favor in the presence of this man: for I was the king’s butler. Now in the month Nisan in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, the wine stood before him, and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I was not before time sad in his presence. And the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing, but sorrow of heart. Then was I sore afraid, And I said to the King, God save the king forever: and house of the sepulchers of my father lieth waste, and the gates thereof are devoured with fire? And the king said unto me, For what thing doest thou require? Then I prayed to the God of heaven. And said unto the king, If I please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, I desire that thou wouldest send me to Judah unto the city of the sepulchers of my fathers, that I may build it. And the King said unto me, (the Queen also sitting by him:) How long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou come again? So it pleased the king, and he sent me, and I set him a time.After I said unto the King, If it pleases the King, let them give me letters to the captains beyond the River, that they may convey me over, till I come unto Judah. And letters unto Asaph the keeper of the kings park, that he may give me timber to build the gates of the palace (which appointed to the house) and for the walls of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king gave me according to the good hand of my God upon me. Then came I to the captains beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. And the king had sent the captains of the army and horsemen with me. But Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah a servant an Ammonite heard it, and it grieved them sore, that there was come a man which sought the wealth of the children of Israel. So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. And I rose in the night, I, and a few men with me: for I told no man, what God had put in mine heart to do at Jerusalem, and there was not a beast with me, save the beast whereon I rode. And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, and came before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire: come, and let us build the walls of Jerusalem, how they were broken down, and the ports thereof devoured with the fire. Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and coming back, I entered by the gate of the valley, and returned. And the rulers knew not whither I was gone, nor what I did, neither did I as yet tell it unto the Jews, nor to the Priests, nor to the noble men, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that labored in the work. Afterward I said unto them, Ye see the misery that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire: come, and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God, (which was good over me) and also of the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise, and build. So they strengthened their hand to good. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant an Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian heard it, they mocked us, and despised us, and said, What a thing is this that ye do? Will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us, and we his servants will rise up and build: but as for you, ye have no portion nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem. Then arose Eliashib the high Priest with his brethren the Priests, and they built the sheep gate: they repaired it, and set up the doors thereof: even unto the tower of Meah repaired they it, and unto the tower of Hananel. And next unto him built the men of Jericho, and beside him Zaccur the son of Imri. But the fish port did the sons of Senaah build, which also laid the beams thereof, and set on the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. And next unto them fortified Meremoth, the son of Urijah, the son of Koz: and next unto them fortified Meshezabel: and next unto them fortified Zadok, the son of Baana: And next unto them fortified the Tekoites: but the great men of them put not their necks to the works of their lords. And the gate of the old fish pool fortified Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah: they laid the beams thereof, and set on the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. Next unto them also fortified Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, unto the throne of the Duke, which was beyond the River. Next unto him fortified Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths: next unto him also fortified Hananiah the son of Harakkahim, and they repaired Jerusalem unto the broad wall. Also next unto them fortified Raphaiah, the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem. And next unto him fortified Rephaiah, the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem. And next unto him fortified Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house: and next unto him fortified Hattush the son of Hashabniah. Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab fortified the second portion, and the tower of the furnaces. Next unto him also fortified Shallum the son of Hallohesh, teh ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters. The valley gate fortified Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah: they built it, and set on the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, even a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung port. But the dung port fortified Malchijah the son of Rechab, the ruler of the fourth part of Beth Haccarem: he built it, and set on the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. But the gate of the fountain fortified Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, the ruler of the fourth part of Mizpah: he built it, and covered it, and set on the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall unto the fish pool of Shelah by the king’s garden, and unto the steps that go down from the city of David. After him fortified Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Beth Zur until the other side over against the sepulchers of David and to the fish pool that was repaired, and unto the house of the mighty. After him fortified the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani, and the next unto him fortified Hashabiah the ruler of the half part of Keilah in his quarter. After him fortified their brethren: Bavai, the son of Henadad the ruler of the half part of Keilah: And next unto him fortified Ezer, the son of Jeshua the ruler of Mizpah, the other portion over against and going up to the corner of the armor. After him was earnest Baruch the son of Zabbai, and fortified another portion from the corner unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high Priest. After him fortified Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, another portion from the door of the house of Eliashub, even as long as the house of Eliashub extended. After him also fortified the Priests, the men of the plain. After them fortified Benjamin, and Hasshub over against their house: after him fortified Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, by his house. After him fortified Binnui, the son of Henadad another portion, from the house of Azariah unto the turning and unto the corner. Palal, the son of Uzai, from over against the corner, and the high tower, that lieth out from the King’s house, which is beside the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh. And the Nethinim they dwelt in the fortress unto the place over against the water gate Eastward, and to the tower that lieth out. After him fortified the Tekoites another portion over against the great tower that lieth out even unto the wall of the fortress. From above the horse gate forth fortified the Priests, every one over against his house. After them fortified Zadok the son of Immer over against his house: and after him fortified Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah the keeper of the East gate. After him fortified Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the son of Zalaph, the sixth, another portion: after him fortified Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, over against his chamber. After him fortified Malchijah the goldsmith’s son, until the house of Nethinim, and of the Merchants over against the gate Miphkad, and to the chamber in the corner. And between the chamber of the corner unto the sheep gate fortified the goldsmiths and the merchant. Nehemiah 1:1–3:32
- Hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us: because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whosoever confesseth that Jesus is the Son of God, in him dwelleth God, and he in God. 1 John 4:13–15
- O God, mine heart is prepared, so is my tongue: I will sing and give praise. Awake viol and harp, I will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people, and I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great above the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Exalt thyself, O God, above the heavens, and let thy glory be upon all the earth, That thy beloved may be delivered: help with thy right hand and hear me. God hath spoken in his holiness: therefore I will rejoice, I shall divide Shechem and measure the valley of Succoth. Gilead shall be mine, and Manasseh shall be mine: Ephraim also shall be the strength of mine head: Judah is my lawgiver. Moab shall be my washpot: over Edom will I cast out my shoe: upon Palestine will I triumph. Who will lead me into the strong city? who will bring me unto Edom? Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst forsaken us, and didst not go forth, O God, which hadst forsaken us, and didst not go forth, O God, with our armies? Give us help against trouble: for vain is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly: for he shall tread down our enemies. Psalm 108:1–13