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Daily Devotional

July 10

YE SEE HOW THE CITY LIETH WASTE; COME LET US BUILD UP ITS WALLS

by Henry T. Vriesen

Nehemiah 1–13

Nehemiah, one of the Jewish captives, was butler of king Artaxerxes at Shushan. One day his brother Hanani and other men from the land of Judah came to see Nehemiah. They reported, The Jews are in great affliction; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. When Nehemiah heard this report, he sat down and wept. In prayer he turned to God, saying, “O Lord … great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him … hear the prayer … which I pray … for the children of Israel … and confess the sins … both I and my father’s house have sinned … Remember … the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses … if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments … though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather you from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.”

As Nehemiah stood before the king, he asked him, “Why is thy countenance sad?” Nehemiah replied, “Why should not my countenance be sad? when the city … of my fathers’ sepulcher lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire.” The king said, “For what dost thou make request?” Nehemiah replied, “If it please the king … that thou wouldst send me … unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers that I may rebuild it?” The king granted this request, and sent with him captains of the army and horsemen. They came to Jerusalem. After they had been there three days, Nehemiah and a few other men with him, rode out by night to see the city. They went out by the gate of the valley and went on to the gate of the fountain. From there they came to the kings pool and to the brook of Kidron. They saw the ruins: the walls were broken and the gates burned. And Nehemiah said to the rulers, Ye see how the city lieth waste: come let us build up its walls. And so they did.

But when the enemies of Jerusalem heard it, they laughed at them and said, “What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?” But Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build.” Nearly everybody seemed to be interested. The various gates had to be rebuilt: the Sheep Gate, the Horse Gate, the Fish Gate, the Valley Gate and the Water Gate. It was no easy task on account of the opposition. Watch had to be set day and night. Half of the men did the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows. Nehemiah said, “We are separated upon the wall, one far from another; in what place therefore ye hear the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us, thus will ye labor in the work.” So they finished their work.

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