Introduction: Are you facing a challenge? Is there something in your
life that needs to be changed or fixed? Our study today recounts
Nehemiah receiving bad news, turning to God for help, and then
intelligently working with God every step of the way to fix the
problem. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn practical
lessons for every day living!
- Bad News
- Read Nehemiah 1:1. What information does this give us? (We
learn who is the writer, and the precise time and place of
the writing. It appears that it is November-December of
- Read Nehemiah 1:2. Who brings news to Nehemiah? (His
brother and others who had come from Judah.)
- Would you trust this report? (These are eye-witnesses
and Nehemiah is very precise in setting the time and
place of his recording. This has the marks of a
- Read Nehemiah 1:3. Who are the remnant who survived the
exile? (Recall last week that the exile was for 70 years.
These are Jews who had been in exile and who have returned
- What is the news? (The defenses of Jerusalem are in
ruins. The people are in “great trouble” and are
- Why is that? (Because they cannot defend the temple –
which has been rebuilt. Their city is still in
ruins. Something need to be changed!)
- Reacting to Bad News
- Read Nehemiah 1:4. How do you react to bad news? What is
your first reaction? How do you compare to Nehemiah?
- Read Nehemiah 1:5. How does Nehemiah structure his prayer?
(He starts out with praise.)
- Compare Luke 11:1-2. How should we start our prayers?
- Look again at Nehemiah 1:5. What else does Nehemiah
mention in the beginning of his prayer? (God keeps
His promises to those who love and obey Him.)
- Read Nehemiah 1:6-9. Nehemiah sounds like he is a contract
lawyer. What are the terms of this contract? Who has
- How would you react to such a prayer if you were God?
- Read Nehemiah 1:10-11. What does Nehemiah suggest to God
about the future of this agreement?
- What is the very last part of this verse telling us?
(That Nehemiah was in frequent contact with King
Artaxerxes. He was not a servant, he was a “person of
rank and importance” according to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary. Many commentaries point out
that the cup bearer was highly trusted for he not
only kept the king from being poisoned, he would hear
private matters being discussed.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:1-2. What does this tell us about King
Artexerxes? (He is not so self-centered that he pays no
attention to those around him. His reaction shows that he
is sympathetic – at least to Nehemiah.)
- What does Nehemiah fear?
- Read Revelation 21:8. Of this terrible list of sins,
why is being “cowardly” first? Why is it even on the
list of sins?
- Read Nehemiah 2:3. What two things do you find in this
reply that represent something we can learn when we are
fearful? (First, Nehemiah, like the king, does not just
focus on himself. The first thing he says is something
positive to the king, even though he has been asked to
report about himself. Second, Nehemiah shows courage, even
though he has fear. He steps forward into what he believes
God has opened up for him.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:4. How is Nehemiah controlling his fear?
(Prayer. Look again at Revelation 21:8. Just after the
“cowardly” is listed “the unbelieving.” We become cowards
when we fail to trust in God. Nehemiah turns immediately
to God in prayer for wisdom as to how he should answer the
- Read Nehemiah 2:5. How long is Nehemiah’s prayer? (This is
obviously a very quick mental prayer. We should acquire
the habit of sending up prayers to God when we need help.)
- How does this relate to Nehemiah’s earlier prayer?
(Recall Nehemiah 1:4-10 where he goes into great
detail with God about the needs of Jerusalem. Read
Nehemiah 1:11. Nehemiah specifically prayed for this
moment, this opportunity. Now that his prayer has
been answer, Nehemiah sends up a quick prayer. I
suspect part of it was “Thank you God! Please give me
- Why would Nehemiah volunteer to lead this? What
skills does a cupbearer possess for such a project?
(This is additional proof that Nehemiah was not
merely a server. He was a person of rank.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:6. What point is being made by noting the
presence of the queen? (The Bible Knowledge Commentary
notes that it was uncommon for a queen to appear at a
formal banquet. That suggests that God has arranged this
so that Nehemiah has a more private conversation with the
- Did you notice that Nehemiah has not mentioned the
specific city involved? Why is that? (Recall that
King Artaxerxes had previously ordered a stop to the
rebuilding work in Jerusalem. Nehemiah doesn’t want
the king’s first response to be “Didn’t I enter an
order to stop the work there?”)
- What does the king’s question about how long this
will take tell us? (That he values Nehemiah and wants
to know how long he will be away.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:7-8. Who does Nehemiah give credit for his
success? (God! Nehemiah involves God at every step.)
- Nehemiah 2:9-10 tells us that the local officials were
“very much disturbed” that someone had come to help the
Israelites. Read Nehemiah 2:11-15. What is Nehemiah doing
that we should apply to our own problem solving approach?
(He keeps his plans to himself until he fully understands
the problem. We should avoid making promises or suggesting
solutions until we have a complete understanding of the
- What would you predict would happen if Nehemiah had
immediately told the hostile locals that he was there
to rebuild the city?
- What does keeping his plans secret for the time being
allow him to do? (He is allowed to freely determine
the full nature of the problem.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:16-17. What is the disgrace? (Their city
- Read Nehemiah 2:18. Is this how you would have revealed
your plans to God’s people? (He first describes God’s
blessings, and then adds that the king supports them.)
- How do the people reply? (They are on board!)
- Read Nehemiah 2:19. Why would the local leaders ask if
this is a rebellion? (They don’t believe Nehemiah. This
confirms the problem that would have arisen if Nehemiah
had immediately told them his plan.)
- Read Nehemiah 2:20. Is this the proper answer to a
question about whether Nehemiah is rebelling against the
king? (Nehemiah ultimately depends on God!)
- Friend, when you face serious problems will you follow
Nehemiah’s example? He asks for God’s help. When
opportunity arises, he steps forward in faith even though
he has fear. Every step he takes is bathed in prayer.
Nehemiah also uses his intelligence. He is careful about
how he presents the problem to the king and how he
presents the solution to the locals. Why not ask God,
right now, for the faith and wisdom to follow Nehemiah’s
- Next week: God’s Call.