Nehemiah 5 has our leader facing a different kind of threat. “There arose a great outcry of the people”. This one comes from inside, not outside. There were some who were taking advantage of others by selling them food to keep families alive. There was a famine, and food has suddenly become the currency of the day. And some were being forced to have their kids sold as slaves just to get food to eat. Nehemiah was not happy. “I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words”. He is not a happy camper.
Warren Buffet says the most important meeting he has each day is the one he has in the mirror with himself. He may have taken a page out of Nehemiah’s playbook. “I took counsel with myself”. Nehemiah stopped and didn’t react to this situation that had him in a boil. He was wise enough to not act until he had considered the matter carefully. But once he considered what was happening, “I brought charges against the nobles and the officials”. He calls them out directly and strongly.
“You are exacting interest” and causing hardship. Nehemiah “held a great assembly against them”. He brought the people together and rebuked these leaders in front of the rest of the people. They didn’t argue. In fact, “they were silent and could not find a word to say”. Nehemiah shuts them up and tells them to return the fields and vineyards they had taken from the people. And it wasn’t a suggestion. Nehemiah “called the priests and made them swear”. He wasn’t taking any chances that they wouldn’t follow through.
Word got back to Artaxerxes and he appointed Nehemiah as governor. He was a frugal leader, not taking advantage of the taxes that were at his disposal. He had the right to lord over the people, but “did not do so, because of the fear of God”. He set an example of servant leadership and served his people well. But he didn’t do it for self. He did it for God. It was about servant obedience in leadership. “Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people”.