[NEH:1:1-11]; [NEH:2:1-8]; [NEH:9:1-38].

Lesson 445 - Junior

Memory Verse

"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight"  (1 John 3:22).


Sad News

Far away from his homeland, in a strange land, lived an Israelite named Nehemiah. He was entrusted with a good position in Shushan, the palace of the king. There he was permitted to serve the king but he was not completely happy. He kept thinking of the land that had been the home of his people, and of Jerusalem where the Temple was built in which the Children of Israel worshipped.

One day he met some men of Judah who had come from his homeland. He was anxious to hear some news of Jerusalem. Nehemiah asked them about the people and the Temple there. But the message the men gave him was discouraging and sad. They said that the people were "in great affliction and reproach." He was told that the wall of the city was broken down and the gates were burned. In those days the cities were surrounded by walls for protection. The people could enter and leave the city only by the gates, which were usually closed at night. Nehemiah knew that the city of Jerusalem and the Temple where God's people worshipped did not have the protection that they ought to have. Nehemiah felt so sorrowful that he wept.


To weep and mourn was not all that Nehemiah did. He fasted and prayed. No doubt he knew about Solomon's prayer when the first Temple was built. Solomon had asked God to hear and answer the prayer of the captives who prayed to God "toward this city . . . and the house" which he had built in the name of the Lord [2CH:6:34-35]). God accepted the sacrifices and the prayers of Solomon, and He also answered the prayers of captives.


We have read that Daniel prayed with his windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt and prayed; he gave thanks to his God [DAN:6:10]). We have also read that God answered Daniel's prayer when he was cast into a den of lions. The king called down, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" [DAN:6:20]). We remember that God "shut the lions' mouths" and no harm came to Daniel "because he believed in his God."

Good Example

These men of God set a good example for us today -- to pray. In [LUK:18:1], we read that Jesus spoke a parable to teach "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." In other portions of Scripture, Jesus reminds us to watch and to pray. In writing to the Philippians, Paul was inspired to say, "In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" [PHL:4:6]). When Paul listed the "whole armour of God," he stressed that, along with the armour, God's soldiers should always pray [EPH:6:13-18]).

Prayers Answered

Nehemiah knew that prayer is more than words. He knew that there are some conditions one must meet in order to have one's prayers answered. Nehemiah reminded God that He is a faithful God to those who "love him and observe his commandments." Jesus taught His disciples similar words. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" [JHN:14:15]). In [JAM:1:22] we read, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." Nehemiah must have loved the Lord and observed His commandments or he would not have brought it to God's remembrance.

As he prayed, Nehemiah did not justify himself and tell God how good he was. He admitted that in times past he had sinned, but he claimed God's promise of pardon. Nehemiah reminded God of His Word given by Moses: "Return unto the LORD thy God, and . . . obey his voice . . . with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; . . then the LORD thy God will . . . have compassion upon thee" [DEU:30:1-3]). Nehemiah admitted that the Children of Israel had been scattered because they had broken God's laws, just as God had said. But Nehemiah had turned to God, kept His commandments, and he expected God to help him return to Jerusalem, "the place" where God had "chosen" to set His name.

The Answer

How did God answer Nehemiah's prayer? Four months later, Nehemiah, with a sad face, was serving the king. Never before had he appeared sad in the king's presence. The king asked why he was sad. The king said that it must be "sorrow of heart," since Nehemiah was not sick. Even though Nehemiah was fearful, he had to answer the king; so he told him about the pitiful condition of Jerusalem in his homeland. The king asked him what he wanted to do. Nehemiah asked permission to return to Jerusalem so he could rebuild the walls.


Not only had Nehemiah prayed and believed God but he was also willing to work and to do his part that the conditions would be better in Jerusalem. Some people pray but are not willing to do anything to help. The Book of James tells about one who sees a brother or sister in need and says, "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled" [JAM:2:16]); notwithstanding he gives not those things which are needful to the body. What doth it profit? When we can help, it is not enough only to pray.

Nehemiah was willing to leave the pleasant palace of a king and to work for the Lord. Nehemiah asked and was granted permission to go to Jerusalem. He was given not only a leave of absence but also an escort of men and horses as well as letters of recommendation by the king. In [ECC:9:10] we read, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Nehemiah did that. He took with him a letter, which entitled him to timber from the king's forest, which shows that he was prepared to build. Our next lesson tells that Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and that the walls were built.

Word of God

Nehemiah had been concerned about the people as well as the building. He knew that in order to have God's blessing, the people must be obedient to the Word of God. In order to obey, they had to know what the Word of God said. Some time later, after the walls were completed, Nehemiah was Tirshatha or governor [NEH:8:9]). The people were encouraged to gather to hear the "book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel." Not only did the people hear, but they also began to do God's Word.

Ezra the scribe opened the book and taught the people. They found written that they should keep the Feast of Tabernacles. They gathered branches and made booths to dwell in during the week of the feast, as the Law commanded. Each day they read the Law, which is in the first part of the Bible. How good they felt because they were obedient to God! Since the days of Joshua, who led the Children of Israel into the Land of Canaan, they had neglected to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. What gladness filled their hearts when they obeyed! So today, one finds true happiness in obeying God's Word, the Bible.


1. What was Nehemiah's work in Shushan, the palace?

2. How did he hear about the condition of Jerusalem?

3. How did the news affect him?

4. Why did Nehemiah pray? What else did he do besides pray?

5. How did the king help Nehemiah? Why did Nehemiah go to Jerusalem?

6. How did God answer Nehemiah's prayer?

7. How did Nehemiah help the people?

8. What did the Children of Israel do after they had heard the Word of God?