Can we wonder that Nehemiah longed to know that his name was in that book of remembrance of which his friend Malachi spoke, and that he often turned the desire into a prayer, pleading with God, ’Remember me, O my God?’
It is a very touching prayer. Nehemiah evidently felt that others did not value his work, nay, that Borne even condemned him for it. The people, instead of being grateful to him for his reforms, found fault with him, misunderstood him, and reproached him.
But God knew, the Master did not blame him. He saw that all Nehemiah did had been done for His glory and for the good of his nation. And to the Master whom he served Nehemiah appealed. Away from the fault-finding people, he turned to the merciful God.
Remember Thou me, O God, for good; others blame me, but it is Thy praise alone that I crave, wipe not Thou out my good deeds, spare Thou me in the greatness of Thy mercy.
There is no pride or boasting in this prayer. Is it not the very prayer of the penitent thief, ‘Lord, remember me?’ Look carefully at the wording of it, and you will notice, as Bishop Wordsworth so beautifully points out, that it is humble in its every detail. Nehemiah does not say, publish to the world my good deeds, but wipe them not out. He does not say, reward me, but remember me. He does not say, remember me for my merit, but according to the greatest of Thy mercies.
So Nehemiah passes away from our sight with that prayer on his lips, ‘Remember me, O my God, for good.’
And was the prayer heard? Was Nehemiah remembered? Did God, has God forgotten His faithful servant? Surely not, for ’The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.’
Remembered by God, and remembered for ever, entered in the great book of God’s remembrance, of which he had so often thought, and of which Malachi had written.
The day is coming when we shall see Nehemiah the cup-bearer. In God’s great day of reward, when one after another of His faithful servants shall appear before Him, we shall hear the response to Nehemiah’s prayer.
‘Remember me, O my God,’ said Nehemiah, long years ago, as he toiled on, unthanked and unblessed by man.
And we shall hear the Lord answer, ’Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’