Every time a member of the angelic host arrived on the scene in the Old or New Testaments, one of the first things that they said was that the person should not be afraid. The Bible is pretty clear, believers in Christ really have nothing to fear– Paul states that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
The only thing that we’re instructed to fear is God.
That is the life that Nehemiah was living in the second chapter, as he is asked by the king what he desires:
And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. – Nehemiah 2:5-8
Nehemiah opens by showing complete respect for the king. He acknowledges his position– he is the king’s servant, and pleads that based on the fact that the king favors him that the king would send him to Judah to do work on the walls of the city. Notice the wording, which is very different than what we would expect to see today. If this were written today, it would have said something like:
Yo king, God wants me to go build a wall around Jerusalem, so I’m off to do it now, and I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll text ya the progress I’m making.
Or something like that. In any case, he requests to leave and the king asks when he’ll return. Nehemiah gives the king a time range (though he doesn’t see fit to tell us!), and he could have just left it at that, but his boldness continues in that he asks the king to help rebuild Jerusalem!
Anyone that’s read the book of Ezra knows that the kings of the Middle Eastern kingdoms at this point in time didn’t have high regard for Jerusalem or the Jewish people. They expected them to revolt, rebel, and deceive– the exact opposite reputation of children of God.
And the king grants his request!
Notice what Nehemiah’s response is– humility. ‘…for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah didn’t fear the king because God was in it, and God was in control.
Now, the skeptic will say he didn’t need to fear because he was a person in high position whom the king obviously cared about. And how did he get that position? Just as Esther feared going to the King to ask for her life, things didn’t always turn out the greatest for members of the court asking requests. He was most likely afraid for his life, but he feared God more.
How about us– do we fear God more than men, or are men just a little too tangible? Does God feel too far off, and if He does, will you run to Him?