Chapter 2 really got to me for a lot of reasons (Yes I'm a week behind. )
First off, it shows that Nehemiah was very well known to the king. AS in, they were more friends than King/Servant. The king simply looked at Nehemiah and could tell something was bothering him. (2:2)
Then, Nehemiah prayers and tells the King his sorrow. The King is receptive and not only that asks Nehemiah what he wants to do. The King then send Nehemiah to Judah with a small army AND gives him letters of safe conduct AND Money to purchase the lumber needed to fix the walls! Not only was the king losing someone he trusted for a long while, he was paying for the whole trip!
I did find it interesting that the queen was present with Nehemiah... Very interesting.
THe fact Nehemiah did not say anything to the people living in the city when he first arrive most have been hard. However he wanted to wisely asses the situation before speaking to the people.
I can imagine him being overwrought with grief at seeing the once beloved city in ruins.
I love his response to the guys about rebuilding. His gentle answer turned away the wrath of the fools trying to stop the walls from being rebuilt. (verse 19 & 20)
Now to read Chapter 3 and post on it Tomorrow or Friday...
"Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king unto me, Why is thou countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart."
That's quite a remarkable statement if you think about it. This guy went to work every day and not once did his boss ever see him sad about anything. Chances are it wasn't because he had some kind of supernaturally stress-free life that never upset him, but he clearly wasn't in the habit of sharing his feelings with everyone he came into contact with and trying to elicit all the sympathy he could get. Consequently, when there was something he couldn't hide his feelings about, people knew it was really serious and desired to help. This whole story might never have happened if the king were instead more apt to say, "There's that Nehemiah guy in a bad mood again. I hope I can get away from him before he tells me all his complaints again today..."
"And 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."
Even after he had prayed and received instruction from the Lord, Nehemiah still had respect for his prior responsiblities and committments and did not use service to the Lord as an excuse to get out of them. Instead he humbled himself to his master and asked for permission to be sent rather than making demands or just walking out.
"Moreover 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; And 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."
Now when Nehemiah woke up and got ready for work that morning, he probably wasn't expecting at that point that he'd be heading off to Judah to oversee this project by the end of the day, so he probably wasn't coming up with these logistics on his own to present to the king. This is another illustration of the great power of prayer, as when he prayed before making answer to the king, God not only gave him encouragement and favor but also very specific invaluable instructions to carry out His will.
"Then 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."
He didn't just ride into town saying Here I am, with this authority and goods given to me by the king to do this thing, although he could have and been technically correct. But he was a faithful witness and was not afraid to tell everything God had done in the matter and attribute authority to God rather than himself, which glorified God and it strengthened the people to know God was with them.