At the close of chapter 1, as almost a postscript, Nehemiah tells us his position, and almost foreshadows what he is about to do:
Now I was cupbearer to the king. – Nehemiah 1:11b
And here we see part of the reason behind Nehemiah’s prayers—now that he knows the plight of Jerusalem, and he is in a position to do something about it.
Cupbearers were an intricate part of the Secret Service of the day. Their mission was to serve at the king’s table and to taste the king’s wine (if necessary) to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. A cupbearer was highly favored and trusted by the king—trusted with the king’s life. This meant that Nehemiah was close to the king and would be very influential.
While reading through the Bible, we often find that God places people where He needs them in order to work the purposes He has. This case is no different, in that God was about to work through Nehemiah to bring about the reconstruction of the walls at Jerusalem.
Nehemiah shows us that he understands that his position is something that God can use, and that is why, I believe, he takes the time that he does to pray for God to use him in the right way. He doesn’t rush in, and what we’ll see in the next chapter is the Nehemiah is even reluctant to ask the king, waiting for the king to make the move.
I don’t think that Nehemiah spent his life planning to get close to the king to further the work of God and to save Israel, but he was willing to keep watch and understand how he could use what the Lord had given Him for His purposes.
We need to make sure that we’re ever mindful about the position that we have, the people that we influence, and the way that we can make a difference for the cause of Christ. It may not be evident now, but if we keep close to God, He will make it known!