Dave Burnette's Commentary

Nehemiah Chapter 2

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Nehemiah
Date Penned: (445-432 BC)
Overview:  The Return of the 3rd Group of Jewish Exiles (c 1-13)
Theme: The Rebuilding of the Wall (c 1-7)
Message: The King Permits Nehemiah to Return (1-20)

Nehemiah 2 Commentary 

(2:1) Nehemiah is Sorrowed - The king noticed Nehemiah's sad appearance. Nehemiah was surprised to be singled out for attention. He was also frightened because showing sorrow before the king was dangerous -the king could execute anyone who displeased him. In fact, anyone wearing sackcloth (mourning clothes) was barred from the palace (Esther 4:2).

(2:2-3) Nehemiah Faces His Fear - Nehemiah wasn't ashamed to admit his fear, but he refused to allow fear to stop him from doing what God had called him to do. He acknowledged the king's position and clearly stated the reasons for his own sorrow. When we allow our fears to rule us, we make fear more powerful than God. Is there a task God wants you to do, but fear is holding you back? God is greater than all your fears. Recognizing why you are afraid is the first step in committing your fear to God. Realize that if God has called you to a task, he will help you accomplish it.

(2:4) Nehemiah Prays - With little time to think, Nehemiah immediately prayed. Nine times in this book we see Nehemiah either praying in the heat of the action or stopping the telling of his account to give a spontaneous prayer (2:4; 4:4-5,9;5:19; 6:14; 13:14.22,29. 31). Nehemiah prayed at any time, even while talking with others. He knew that God is always in charge, is always present, and hears and answers every prayer. Nehemiah could confidently pray throughout the day because he had established an intimate relationship with God during times of extended prayer (1:4-11). If we want to reach God with our emergency prayers, we need to take time to cultivate a strong relationship with him through times of in-depth prayer.

(2:6) Nehemiah Departs From the King - The king asked Nehemiah how long he would be gone. The Bible does not record Nehemiah's immediate answer, but he ended up staying in Jerusalem for 12 years (5:14; 13:6).

(2:7-8) Nehemiah Asks For Help -  After his prayer, Nehemiah asked the king for permission to go to Judah. As soon as he got a positive answer, he began asking for additional help. Sometimes when we have needs, we hesitate to ask the right people for help because we are afraid to approach them. Not Nehemiah! He went directly to the person who could help him the most. Don't be reluctant to ask those who are most able to help. They may be more interested and approachable than you think. God's answers to prayer may come as a result of our asking others

(2:8) God's Gracious Hand - Nehemiah had position, power, and many good organizational skills, but he acknowledged that God's gracious hand was upon him. He knew that without God's strength, his efforts would be in vain. Do you acknowledge God as your power source and the one who gave you your gifts?

(2:9-10.19) Nehemiah Faced Opposition - When Nehemiah arrived in Judah, opposition greeted him. Opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem had been going on for 90 years by those who had settled in the area when the Jews were taken captive. In every generation there are those who hate God's people and try to block God's purpose. When you attempt to do God's work, some will oppose you, and some will hope you fail. If you expect opposition, you will be prepared rather than surprised (1John 3:13). Knowing that God is behind your task is the best incentive to move ahead in the face of opposition

(2:10) Concern Over Nehemiah - Sanballat was governor of Samaria, and Tobiah was probably governor of Transjordan under the Persians. Why were these government officials so concerned about the arrival of Nehemiah and his small band of exiles? There are several possible reasons: (1) When Zerubbabel first returned with his group (Ezra -2), his refusal to accept help from the Samaritans had caused bad relations. (2) Nehemiah was no ordinary exile; he was the king's personal adviser and cupbearer, arriving in Jerusalem with the king's approval to build and fortify the city. If anyone could rebuild Jerusalem, he could. A rebuilt Jerusalem would be a threat to the authority of the Samaritan officials who had been in charge of the land since Judah's exile. (3) This was the third group to return from exile. The increasing number of people in Jerusalem made Sanballat and Tobiah worried and angry. They did not want the returned exiles taking control of the land and threatening their secure position.

(2:11-17) Nehemiah Evaluates the Wall - Nehemiah arrived quietly in Jerusalem and spent several days carefully observing and assessing the damage to the walls. Following this time of thoughtful consideration, he confidently presented his plan. Nehemiah demonstrated an excellent approach to problem solving. He got firsthand information and carefully considered the situation. Then he presented a realistic strategy. Before jumping into a project, follow Nehemiah's example and plan ahead. Check your information to make sure your ideas will work -be realistic. Then you will be able to present your plan with confidence.

(2:12-16) Nehemiah Plans -  Nehemiah kept his mission a secret and surveyed the walls by moonlight to avoid unhealthy gossip about his arrival and to prevent enemies from being alerted to his plans. Only after planning carefully would he be ready to go public with his mission from God. A premature announcement could have caused rivalry among the Jews as to the best way to begin. In this case, Nehemiah didn't need tedious planning sessions; he needed one plan that would bring quick action.

(2:17-18) Nehemiah's Vision - Spiritual renewal often begins with one person's vision. Nehemiah had a vision, and he shared it with enthusiasm, inspiring Jerusalem's leaders to rebuild the walls.

We frequently underestimate people and don't challenge them with our dreams for God's work in the world. When God plants an idea in your mind to accomplish something for him, share it with others and trust the Holy Spirit to impress them with similar thoughts. Don't regard yourself as the only one through whom God is working. Often God uses one person to express a vision and others to turn it into reality. When you encourage and inspire others, you put teamwork into action to accomplish God's goals.

(2:19-20) Nehemiah is Ridiculed - Sanballat and Tobiah labeled the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls as rebellion against the king, probably threatening to report the builders as traitors. These enemies also ridiculed Nehemiah, saying that the walls could never be rebuilt because the damage was too extensive. Nehemiah did not tell them he already had permission from the king to rebuild. Instead, he simply said he had God's approval -that was enough.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Have a Vision


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Nehemiah with Chapter 2 and we see Nehemiah has returned with the exiles and seeing the need begins to lead the nation of our Lord. He inspects the walls and calls the people to begin rebuilding. Nehemiah had a vision and without the vision the people would have perished. In making application we see the same call on our lives to have a vision, and to prepare the walls in our lives and the ones we love. Not seeing our weaknesses and preparing for the enemy can catch us off guard which could cause us fall in times of need and pressure. How about you? Do you see the need to build the walls to protect us from the enemy? Let us learn from our text today and life of Nehemiah to have a vision lest we perish.


Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah 2

 1And 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.

 2Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

 3And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

 4Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

 5And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

 6And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

 7Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

 8And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

 9Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

 10When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.

 11So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.

 12And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.

 13And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

 14Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.

 15Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.

 16And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

 17Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.

 18Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

 19But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

 20Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.