Nehemiah confronted the nobles over their treatment of the people regarding interest. Now we see his generosity lived out.
The office Nehemiah held in Jerusalem came with many benefits. The one Nehemiah addresses for us is that of food rations. The governors before Nehemiah’s all thought of themselves as above the common people. They took advantage of their position. They made the people support them and that support was heavy. I tried to find out how much the mentioned amount calculated out to be in today’s economy but failed. I did find out that 40 shekels of silver is about one pound of silver. And this was required of the people on a daily basis. I would say that today’s legislators in the United States of America would consider the wage small but the people would see it as otherwise. The politicians in my country, in MY opinion, are paid far too much. But that is a topic for another day and possibly for another place.
Nehemiah thought this demand on the people to be oppressive. I’m certain he was not wrong. He refused to continue this oppressive demand on the people. Instead, he provided for himself and all those who sat at his table. He took nothing from the people. I imagine this was a great relief for the people, especially those who were already suffering. They wouldn’t have to come up with the funds to support their governor as well as their own family.
I’m curious as to where Nehemiah received his funds. Before he came to Jerusalem he was the cupbearer to the king. This was the position of a servant. Even if it was one of the most notable posts he was still a slave. Was he paid for his service? Was he still being supported by the king while he was in Jerusalem? Did he have money of his own that he invested? He took nothing from the people but he had to have support from somewhere. Was he already wealthy? He was very generous with what he had, up to and including purchasing back Jews who were slaves to other nations.
One other question, what happened with the house he said he would build in the beginning? Did he move into the governor’s home or did he build one of his own? We are told that he didn’t acquire land for himself or his servants so where did they live for 12 years?
These last two questions just reminded me of one of Jesus’ teachings. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus is telling His disciples not to worry about the material things in life; finances, food, clothes, and shelter. God KNOWS your needs. He provides for His children. He clothes the flowers in the field and feeds the sparrow. Surely He can be trusted to take care of you when you seek Him FIRST. This is exactly what Nehemiah was doing. He was doing the job God called him to do and God was somehow supplying his daily needs.
This message applies to us today as surely as it did when Jesus taught it and when Nehemiah lived it before it was even spoken. God does NOT promise that we will be independently wealthy or that we won’t have obstacles to overcome. But He does promise that He will care for us and meet our needs when we put Him FIRST in our lives. Trust Him to know what we need and to bring it in the best way possible.
Father God, thank You for always knowing and supplying my needs. There have been many times in my life when I have struggled but You never let me become destitute. You ALWAYS provided a way to meet my needs. Sometimes it was favor from others. Sometimes it was unexpected gifts in the mail. Sometimes it was awareness of a program that could help. And sometimes it was falling back into the arms of my family. One of those times You were meeting all our needs by bringing us together. Mine of shelter and theirs of food. You NEVER cease to amaze me!
I KNOW I can trust You with my future just as well. I have no idea what lies ahead but I KNOW that You have it all in control. I trust You to care for me and to tell me what to do at each new juncture in my life. I’m in Your hands.