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The Fear of God

by Esther Griggs

Nehemiah highly revered and respected his God. Doing so thrust him high above those throughout the ages that would carry such a title as Governor. It was from this fear of God that his vision and love for his Jewish family grew. So did his actions.

When therefore, he heard that brothers were charging high interest rates, further enslaving their own Jewish families, he became angry. Then he demanded change. He rebuked them and called an assembly. His rebuke left them speechless. He further admonished them, “What you are doing is not good, should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of our enemies? My servants and me lend them money and grain. Stop this usury. Restore to them this day 100 percent of what you have charged them in interest.” It resulted in their promise to restore the 100 percent. Because Nehemiah knew the fickleness of promises. He ordained an oath before the priests to ensure there was follow through.

In addition, his position entitled him and his men to obtain certain material provisions. They, however, refused. For the full 12 years he held the position of governor, he refused for himself and his men any of the governor’s provisions. He knew that in doing so they were placing burdens on those who were already bowed low by their circumstances. Nehemiah, however, would have none of it. Instead he opened his table to the Jews and to other peoples beyond.

Further, this governor and his servants had come for the work not the pay. He didn’t buy land. He wasn’t there to make his own kingdom. To raise up the people of the God he feared was his raison d’etre, his reason to be.

After all was said and done he had one request. “My God,” he pleaded, “remember me.” He desired only God’s remembrance. He wanted God to remember the good he had done for His people.

Nehemiah lived his life from his fear of God. Doing so enabled him to envision great things, to take action to change things, and to live above the pleasures others in his position demanded. The power of Nehemiah’s life came from the fear of God.

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