Nehemiah 2 has the prophet doing his job as cupbearer, which normally he did with a smile on his face. Scripture tells us “I had not been sad in his presence” referring to the way the Nehemiah served the king. But that wasn’t the case now. Nehemiah was saddened by the news about Jerusalem and it showed. The king asked “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick”? That wasn’t really an acceptable thing to do in front of the king. The staff was to keep their emotions to themselves and serve him with joy.
But Nehemiah can’t contain his sorrow. “Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire”? He lets the cat out of the proverbial bag and tells the king what is on his mind. The king doesn’t rebuke him, but asks “What are you requesting”? They obviously had a close relationship. So Nehemiah has opened the door for a conversation, but now what? He isn’t sure so “I prayed to the God of heaven”. When in doubt, ask God. And that is exactly what he did. God answered and he asked for a few specifics since the door was open.
Nehemiah asks the king to “send me to Judah….let letters be given….give me timber….the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me”. But the king went even further sending officers and horsemen from his army to accompany Nehemiah on his trip. He heads off to Jerusalem to see what could be done. He arrives and decides to inspect things. “I arose in the night….I told no one what my God had put into my heart….I inspected the walls”. Nehemiah didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up until he knew what he was facing. He wanted to inspect and prepare.
But the next step was to energize the people. They didn’t really seem to understand the gravity of the situation. “You see the trouble we are in….Let us rise up and build”. Nehemiah rallies the troops to get up and get with the program of rebuilding the city. Not everyone was on board. In fact three guys, “Sanballat….Tobiah….Geshem….jeered at us and despised us”. They did not want the city to be rebuilt and become strong again. But Nehemiah was not intimidated. “The God of heaven will make us prosper”. He knows where his strength comes from.