Daily Readings & Thought for November 15th. “SERVANTS WHO DELIGHT TO FEAR YOUR NAME”
Today’s readings.. (Nehemiah 1,2), (Hosea 12), (Colossians 3,4)
Today we began reading the inspiring words of Nehemiah. They are inspiring because they show his faith and absolute commitment to serve God – and the wondrous power of prayer in carrying out this commitment. Earlier, inspired by Ezra, the Temple had been restored, but Jerusalem itself was still in ruins and the people were living in very difficult conditions.
Nehemiah is a cupbearer, a very responsible and trusted position in service to the Persian King. Visitors from Jerusalem bring him news of its “great trouble and shame” [v.3]. As a result he says, “I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying …” [v.4] He reflects on God’s saving power in the past and prays, “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name …”[v.11]
Do we “delight to fear” – that is, be in heart felt awe of what God must be? And for us, as we read today in Colossians 3 v.1, to have that attitude toward “the Son at the right hand of God.” Obviously Nehemiah’s relationship with God was real! Is ours?
Nehemiah is cupbearer to the King, a very trusted position in protecting the king from any effort to poison him. His spirit of distress is evident as he serves the king. The king asks, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick?” [2 v.2] Nehemiah tells him of the news that has come to him, the King responds, “What are you requesting?” [v.4]
Nehemiah reacts! Imagine it! “So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favour in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.’ ” [v.4,5] How instantaneous his prayer must have been – and how he must have marvelled and felt humbled by the answer! He is sent to Jerusalem and on arrival “I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work” [v.18].
May the hand of our loving heavenly Father be upon us for good – that is the good of working in his vineyard: this includes using whatever talents we have to rebuild the faith of any whose ‘walls’ have fallen down – or are collapsing. The tragedy is, as we read in Proverbs, those “without self-control (are) like a city broken into and left without walls.” [25 v.28]