“14 Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. 15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. 16 People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. 17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this wicked thing you are doing – desecrating the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.’19 When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 But I warned them and said, ‘Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.’ From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love. 23 Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. 25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. 27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?’28 One of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite. And I drove him away from me.29 Remember them, my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.30 So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. 31 I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the first fruits. Remember me with favour, my God.” NIV
When my daughter, Christel, was younger she had some music on disc, composed and recorded by Dave Godfrey – an extremely talented children’s worker. One of those songs included the words, ‘I’m living for an audience of one. The audience is Jesus!’ I thought about that song when I read Nehemiah’s brief, pointed prayers in this chapter. We have seen from the beginning how prayer was interwoven with Nehemiah’s whole life; how he often shot up these ‘arrow prayers’ in the midst of life and its duties.
These prayers show Nehemiah as a man conscious of God; someone living out his life before God. We don’t know whether much came his way in terms of appreciation, but his main concern was to please God. It is certainly possible to receive a sense of the Lord’s affirmation; to sense His ‘smile’. This matters more than any human accolades.
Again, Matthew Henry writes so helpfully:
‘Having no recompense (it is a question whether he had thanks) from those for whom he did these good services, he looks up to God as his paymaster (v. 14): Remember me, O my God! concerning this…on every occasion he looked up to God, and committed himself and his affairs to him. 1. He here reflects with comfort and much satisfaction upon what he had done for the house of God and the offices thereof; it pleased him to think that he had been any way instrumental to revive and support religion in his country and to reform what was amiss. What kindness any show to God’s ministers, thus shall it be returned into their own bosoms, in the secret joy they shall have there, not only in having done well, but in having done good, good to many, good to souls. 2. He here refers it to God to consider him for it, not in pride, or as boasting…Observe how modest he is in his requests. He only prays, Remember me, not Reward me—Wipe not out my good deeds, not Publish them…Yet he was rewarded and his good deeds were recorded; for God does more than we are able to ask.’
PRAYER: Help us Lord, to be content to live our lives before you and seek only to please you.