Reading for Today:
- Nehemiah 1:1–2:20
- Proverbs 21:25-26
- Psalm 88:11-18
- Acts 25:1-27
Nehemiah 1:4 sat down and wept, and mourned for many days. Although Nehemiah was neither a prophet nor a priest, he had a deep sense of Jerusalem’s significance to God and was greatly distressed that affairs there had not advanced the cause and glory of God.
Nehemiah 1:11 the king’s cupbearer. As an escort of the monarch at meals, the cupbearer had a unique advantage to petition the king. Not only did the king owe him his life since the cupbearer tested all the king’s beverages for possible poison, thus putting his own life at risk, but he also became a close confidant. God sovereignly used this relationship between a Gentile and Jew to deliver His people, such as He did with Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai.
Nehemiah 2:2 dreadfully afraid. Nehemiah feared that either his countenance, his explanation, or his request would anger the king and thus lead to his death (Esth. 4:11 with 5:1–3).
Nehemiah 2:10 Sanballat…Tobiah. These men were probably also behind the opposition described in Ezra 4:7–23 which stopped the work in Jerusalem. Sanballat served as governor of Samaria and Tobiah, of the region east of the Jordan. These district magistrates were leaders of Samaritan factions (see chap. 6) to the north and east. They had lost any recourse to prevent Judah from rebuilding since God’s people were authorized to fortify their settlement against attack from enemies such as these two officials. To overtly attack or oppose the Jews would be to oppose the Persian king.
Acts 25:13 King Agrippa. Herod Agrippa II, son of the Herod who killed James and imprisoned Peter (12:1). He was the last of the Herods, who play a prominent role in New Testament history. His great-uncle, Herod Antipas, was the Herod of the Gospels (Mark 6:14–29; Luke 3:1; 13:31–33; 23:7–12), while his great-grandfather, Herod the Great, ruled at the time Jesus was born (Matt. 2:1–19; Luke 1:5). Though not the ruler of Judea, Agrippa was well versed in Jewish affairs (26:3). Bernice. Not Agrippa’s wife, but his consort and sister. (Their sister, Drusilla, was married to the former governor, Felix). Their incestuous relationship was the talk of Rome, where Agrippa grew up. Bernice for a while became the mistress of Emperor Vespasian, then of his son, Titus, but always returned to her brother.
Acts 25:26 I have nothing certain. Since Festus did not understand the nature of the charges against Paul, he did not know what to write in his official report to Nero. For a provincial governor to send a prisoner to the emperor with no clear charges against him was foolish, if not dangerous. especially before you, King Agrippa. Festus hoped Herod’s expertise in Jewish affairs (26:3) would enable him to make sense of the charges against Paul.
DAY 25: What leadership qualities does Nehemiah illustrate in his life?
Like many biblical leaders, Nehemiah demonstrated an understanding of God’s call over his life. Whether as cupbearer to a king or as the rebuilder of Jerusalem, Nehemiah pursued his goals with commitment, careful planning, strategic delegation, creative problem solving, focus on the task at hand, and a continual reliance on God, particularly regarding areas beyond his control. Each of the leadership qualities above can be illustrated from Nehemiah’s successful completion of the effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
First, Nehemiah demonstrated his commitment by his interest and his deep concern over the condition of his fellow Jews in Judah. Next,Nehemiah prayed and planned. He claimed God’s promise to bring His people back to the Promised Land, but he didn’t assume that he would be part of God’s action. He declared himself available (1:11; 2:5).
Even when he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah personally inspected the need before he revealed his plans. Then he enlisted the help of the local leadership. He challenged them to take responsibility for the common good. He placed before them a very specific goal—to rebuild the wall. Workers were assigned to work on the wall where it ran closest to their own homes. That way they could see the benefit in having the protective barrier near where they lived.
As the work sped forward, Nehemiah did not allow himself to be distracted by attacks of various kings or tricks from enemies. He took threats seriously enough to arm the people but not so seriously that the work came to a halt. At every turn, we find Nehemiah conferring in prayer with God, placing every decision before the ultimate Decider. Nehemiah succeeded because he never lost sight of the true reasons for the work and the source of power with which to do the work.
From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.