Success in the Midst of Opposition

A Special Plea

In the second chapter of the book of Nehemiah, we find one of the prophet’s most challenging trials. This occurred when Nehemiah decided to make an unusual request of Artaxerxes, the powerful Persian king.

Nehemiah had just been informed about the sad state of the city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3). The walls of the city of the Jews were in ruins and Nehemiah, a brave soul, decided to ask the king permission to rebuild them. He had been praying about this (Nehemiah 1:6) and asking God to grant him success before the king.

This was a risky situation. Nehemiah had to ask the king to annul an ancient law, which forbade Jews to continue rebuilding the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:17-24). Not only was there a possibility that the king might deny his request but also that Nehemiah might lose his job (as the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah 1:11) or, perhaps, even his head. (At this time, the Jews were slaves of the Persians.)

The Best Strategy for Similar Situations

Sooner or later, we will all have to deal with those in positions of authority who may put us to the test, be it our boss, our parents, a governor, a school teacher, etc. How should one deal with such individuals under these circumstances? Prayer is of the utmost importance in these situations, even if it is brief (Nehemiah 2:4).

“In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (Proverbs 21:1, NIV)

(Adapted from the book “Nehemiah” by Mark Reeves)