Daily Devotional Nehemiah 1:2–3
Going against the wave of technology, I exchanged my smartphone for a “dumb” phone several years ago. But before then, I remember texting with friends and seeing those little three dots come up that indicate your recipient is typing a response. I would sometimes get anxious, waiting for what they would say. Now, take that emotion and multiply it by a camel ride across 900 miles.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Travel back to December of 445 BC, and meet Nehemiah, a trusted advisor to the king in the Persian capital Susa, which is the modern-day city of Shush in southwestern Iran. You probably know the city from the book of Esther, where events occurred about 20 years before this. Nehemiah had waited a long time for his message, and the news was even worse than he expected. Nehemiah’s brother Hanani (whose name means “The Lord Is Gracious”) told him that “those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace” (v. 3). Even the wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed.
The people to whom he referred had been left in Jerusalem and the surrounding area when the rest of God’s people were deported to Babylon (see 2 Kings 24–25). We’ll learn later in our study that not all the people remaining in Jerusalem were truly God’s people, but God’s people in Jerusalem clearly needed the comfort and protection that Yahweh brings, for even the wall around the city had been destroyed.
Our cities today don’t typically have walls around them, but walls were a necessity in the ancient world. They protected the city’s inhabitants from invaders and other threats. Without the wall and the gates that controlled traffic, God’s people were in constant danger from enemy attack.
>> Think about a time in your life when you felt disgraced, under attack, or in trouble (or perhaps that is your situation today). How did God meet your need? Try to think of someone who might feel like you once felt, and, like Nehemiah, reach out to comfort that person today.
Pray with Us
We know these things are true: You and only You are holy, You alone see to the depths of our hearts, and Your love is deeper still. Even in disgrace, we depend on Your love and forgiveness. We trust You and rely on You, Lord!