Bible studies for writers

Bible studies for writers | Nehemiah 2

As we discussed in the first chapter, we don’t know a lot about Nehemiah the man, but his words and writing style, which I am absolutely loving, tell us what we need to know. He says in the first paragraph of today’s reading that it is King Artaxerxes’ 20th year on the throne. So, from that, we can “assume” a couple things: Nehemiah is older and has been the king’s cupbearer the whole time, or Nehemiah is a younger man who started serving as the king’s cupbearer sometime during his reign. I’m going with the older dude. First, he obviously has a very established relationship with the king. Nehemiah lets us know in the first paragraph that in all the time he’s been the king’s cupbearer, the king has never seen him looking sad. That tells us a lot right there. It sounds to me like Nehemiah was content and happy in his life. He did not imply that he had appeared happy before the king on false pretenses. He simply says, “The king had never seen me sad before.” And the king was close enough to and empathetic enough toward Nehemiah to ask him why he appeared so melancholy. That’s not really a reaction you’d get from a royal man regarding the servant who brings him his drinks. They’re relationship is much deeper than that. The queen seems kind of naggy, but I’m not talking about her today. This is about the king and Nehemiah. (Though, now that I think about it, maybe the queen was naggy because she was jealous about the king’s relationship with his cupbearer. Hmmmmm.) The last few paragraphs of the first section also provide more evidence that the king and Nehemiah had a deeper relationship beyond business. So what? You might be wondering what my point is, and truthfully, I was just thinking, so, what’s the point? Well, here’s the point I’m getting so far: Nehemiah has been somewhat “stuck” in his position. Or, at least, he has been serving alongside the king for a lot of years, and he’s had to watch from afar what is happening in a land he loves but doesn’t “belong.” I am absolutely 100-percent positive that at many points in Nehemiah’s life he questioned why he was stuck in a servant’s position, unable to break free of the life in which he was “assigned.” But, alas, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news??? Nehemiah, in all his servanthood and lowly-ness, was EXACTLY where he was supposed to be.

Sometimes I get downright frustrated with myself. There are days when I look up, and it’s 2 p.m., and I’ve accomplished nothing more than brushing my teeth and advancing 12 levels on Best Fiends. And on those days, and on more and more days lately, I turn into King Solomon about 4 p.m., moaning and groaning about the purpose of life and how there is none. And I wonder, why am I here? Actually, in my brain, it’s more like, WHYYYYYYYY AM I HERRRRRRRRE????? And on days like this, I’m thankful for people like Nehemiah because I bet as a cupbearer, living far away from the land in which he wanted to be, he had that same conversation with God dozens of times.

Writing prompt: why are you here?

Write about a time when you felt completely unimportant.

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