The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year…
Nehemiah the civilian, as contrasted with Ezra the ecclesiastic, is brought before us in this book as the patriot deliverer of his people.
I. The typical patriot Is PURELY DISINTERESTED IN PRINCIPLE. Personal ambition is sunk in desire for public good. Selfish motives are abandoned for generous impulses.
1. This does not prevent his rising to a position of honour even in an alien country. A good man is valued anywhere. Fidelity to convictions ever commands respect apart from the merit of the convictions themselves. Honour from an alien chief can only be allowed to the true patriot conditionally —
(1) That no vital principle is sacrificed. Nehemiah evidently remained true to his nation and loyal to his God.
(2) That it is made subservient to the interests of his people. At Shushan Nehemiah was really serving them better than he could do at Jerusalem until summoned there by Divine Providence. He was learning the principles of government at the centre of the most powerful government in the world. He had immediate access to the monarch himself.
2. He is always ready to surrender personal honour for his people's good —
(1) If by so doing he can be of more service to his brethren. Self-sacrifice is the grand test of all pretension.
(2) If personal honour be associated with his people's oppression. Learn —
1. By obedience we make the most stubborn laws of nature our servants.
2. By patience foes may be transformed into friends.
3. By the. discipline of adversity the foundations of prosperity are laid.
II. The typal patriot IS LARGE-HEARTED IN HIS SYMPATHIES.
1. He manifests a real interest in the condition of his country (ver. 2). The words imply —
(1) That Nehemiah was not a passive listener to the rehearsal of his people's affliction.
(2) That he entered into particulars and was most minute in his inquiries. They who have no intention of practical sympathy are careful to elicit no tales of sorrow.
2. He takes upon himself the burden of his country's woes (ver. 4).
III. The typal patriot RECOGNISES DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IN HUMAN AFFAIRS.
1. By accepting the existence and authority of the King of kings. Not only as —
(1) A dogma, but also as —
(2) A regulative principle. "O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God."
2. By regarding Divine aid as superior to all other.
(1) As the most powerful that can be obtained.
(2) As controlling all other aid.Nehemiah seeks Divine assistance in urging his suit in his approaching interview with the king —
(a) That he may reach the monarch's will by the most accessible channel.
(b) That he may approach him at the most accessible moment.
(c) That he may urge his request in the most prevalent form.
3. By regarding Divine aid as available through prayer. Nehemiah's prayer is one of the model prayers of the Bible, as —
(1) Reverent in its attitude towards God (ver. 5).
(2) Persistent in pressing its suit (ver. 6).
(3) Penitent in its tone and temper (vers. 6, 7).
(4) Scriptural in its argument (vers. 8, 9).
(5) Childlike in its spirit (vats. 10, 11).
(6) Definite in its aim (ver. 11).Learn —
1. Nehemiah is a type of Him who "though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor," etc.
2. Intercessory prayer is the inspiration and the evidence of true patriotism.
3. Divine interposition is the safest to invoke in national crises.
(W. H. Booth.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,