And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine…
At the outset two things strike us here.
1. A rare opportunity for worldly advancement. Here is a king saying to his cupbearer, "What dost thou want me to do for thee?" What a chance this for any man! Wealth, dignity, influence, all put within his reach, left to depend upon his choice.
2. A rare treatment of such an opportunity. What should we say if our sovereign should speak thus to us? Most would say, "Give us a mansion to live in, lordly estate as our inheritance, dazzling titles and extensive patronage." What said Nehemiah? He paused and reflected, and then he prayed. He would not choose for himself. Man is a choosing creature; his daily life is made up of a series of choices; he has to reject and accept in order to live.
I. GOD ALONE KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US. "Who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life?" Man is constantly making mistakes in this matter. What he wants and struggles for as a prize sometimes turns out to be one of his sorest calamities. Because Moses looked to heaven in such a case, he chose a life which to unregenerate man would be revolting.
II. GOD ALWAYS DESIRES WHAT IS BEST FOR US. He made us to be happy. That He desires our happiness is clear —
1. From the capacity of enjoyment with which He has endowed us.
2. From the elements of happiness with which the world abounds.
3. From the mission of His only-begotten Son.
III. GOD, IN ANSWER TO PRAYER, IS EVER READY TO BESTOW what is best for us. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." Conclusion: Let us act ever upon the principle that prayer should precede choice.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
WEB: It happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now I had not been [before] sad in his presence.