This post is Day 7 in a series of studies about “Nehemiah”. I strongly suggest you begin with the introduction to this study, please click here to read it.
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Nehemiah – Day 7
King Artaxerxes seems to have been a good king, he reigned in Persia for 40 years, and the question he posed to Nehemiah shows that he noticed (and was concerned for) his servants. Nehemiah looking downcast was not normal. This King had great respect for the Jewish nation and for their God.
I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid.
King Artaxerxes seems to have been a good king, he reigned in Persia for 40 years, (465-424) and the question he posed to Nehemiah shows that he noticed (and was concerned for) his servants. Nehemiah looking downcast seemed abnormal.
This King had been genuinely interested in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He had great respect for the Jewish nation and for their God.
In the book of Ezra (which precedes Nehemiah in most Bibles) we read that Artaxerxes gave permission to Ezra the priest to return to Jerusalem and supervise the rebuilding of the temple to which the king made a very generous donation (Ezra 7:15,20).
Nehemiah would know all that, but at this moment he was scared. Looking sad in the presence of the king was punishable by death, unless it was an official time of fasting and prayer. But Nehemiah had reason to be scared!
Think today about people you have heard of who would give generously to the restoration of a historic building. I am thinking as I write of the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Within weeks of the cathedral being destroyed the total amount needed had been promised in order to rebuild.
Many of the people who gave generously were believers and regular attendees at church services. Many were more interested in preserving the history contained in the building.
Pray for those who like history, but don’t want to know the God of history.
Read Ezra 7:11-26:- the letter that this generous King gave to the priest/scribe Ezra.