BIBLE READING: Nehemiah 1
“And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:”
In the first chapter of Nehemiah, we see the broken heart of Nehemiah when he hears the devastating news from Jerusalem. It had been over 70 years since the fall and judgment of Israel, and now the time of punishment is coming to an end. Nehemiah was the royal cup bearer, a dangerous but important position to King Artaxerxes I. In the first three verses, Nehemiah hears of the awful situation in Jerusalem, though he had never been there, his heart was broken for the capital of his home nation. We see concern and worry for his people. Today, I want us to focus on his prayer.
First, Nehemiah praises and addresses the Lord. He wants to recognize the greatness, righteousness, and majesty of God. Verse 5, he refers to God as terrible or meaning awesome. He then thanks God for keeping the covenant with His people and being merciful to the them. In all of this we see Nehemiah knew the goodness and love He had for His people. As a child of God, I know that God still keeps His promises and does what is best for me. This is so important to keep in mind, that God is the focal point of our prayer.
Second, Nehemiah confesses the sins of his people. He knew the faults and failures of himself and his people. I find it interesting that Nehemiah throughout his prayer did not blame God, but continues to emphasize the mercy and the covenant of God. Sometimes, prayer can tend to have a selfish tilt for what is best for us. Our desires can’t always be trusted, because after all we are only flesh.
Verse 11 says, “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.”
What a selfless burdened prayer Nehemiah gave to the Lord. A man so broken, not for himself, but for his people and what they could be for God. Have you ever had something so heavy on your heart you felt that broken. You couldn’t sleep, or had a hard time focusing. This makes me think of the promise given to Jeremiah. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
I am so relieved that we have all access to a mighty and merciful God that can help bare our burdens!
David Fulp II