The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 132 of 261
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passage before us. It is not a Hebrew word but comes from the ancient Akkadian sha
"bride" and gal, "great". It would exactly fit Esther's position as the foreign bride of the
great king. God sometimes answers our prayers years before they are breathed, and the
coming together of the two passages--"So I prayed to the God of heaven, and I said unto
the king" and the parenthetical clause "the Queen also sitting by him"--throw light upon
a neglected aspect of this vital subject.
The prayer of Nehemiah was granted. Leave of absence from the court, together with
letters addressed to the governors "beyond the river" guaranteeing safe convoy, together
with instructions to the keeper of the King's forest, or park, (pardes, a Persian word that
gives us, through the Septuagint, the word "paradise") to provide the necessary timber for
the work of restoration which he was about to undertake. A man of prayer need not be
unpractical: the special providence that placed Esther on the throne, did not necessarily
mean that beams for building would come "out of the blue". These necessary things,
though provided by the king, were nevertheless the answer of God as Nehemiah
recognized when he said,
"And the king granted me according to the good hand of my God upon me" (Neh. 2: 8).
We shall learn by the record that follows, that answered prayer and providential
interposition do not render us immune from attack. Like Paul at a later date, Nehemiah
could have said regarding this work to which he had been led,
"A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries"
(I Cor. 16: 9).
The story we are about to follow is one largely made up of these two elements. They
are features that are associated with all true service, our own included, and if we study
this record of Nehemiah aright, there will be brought to light that which will encourage us
to persevere, as well as reveal the perennial methods of spiritual opposition, and the spirit
in which all such animosity must be met.
We commence this study with the words that immediately follow: "Then I came to
the governors beyond the river" (Neh. 2: 9) with which our next article must open.