The Providence of God, Part 2.

God’s providence is always active and moving in and through our lives. If we have any hope of flourishing as God intends, which is growing in holiness toward Christlikeness, we must discipline our inner man to the powerful impact of the fact of God’s providence. Flourishing is the property of those whose lives are lived according to the interest, values, and concerns that exist in heaven.


We learn from Nehemiah how God’s providence works through our privilege and emotions (Nehemiah 1:11-2:2). Nehemiah was in the privileged position of cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I of Persia, also known as Cyrus in Ezra 6:3. Nehemiah tasted the king’s drink and food to prevent him from being poisoned. A contemporary of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and possibly even Esther in her old age, Nehemiah leads the third and final return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

A prophecy was given to the Northern tribes regarding their sin against God with the consequence of captivity (2 Kings 17). The reasons for captivity were clearly understood by Nehemiah as evidenced in his opening prayer (Neh. 1). The position of cupbearer was a key role, providing confidential access to the king (Neh. 1:11). He was in an unparalleled position of trust and confidence as one of the king’s advisers, a position which required impeccable character.

Nehemiah’s character was the product of his robust belief in and love for the God of the Mosaic covenant. He understood his place in that covenant, as well as the interest, values, and concerns of his covenant-keeping God, and prayed accordingly. Nehemiah’s prayer reveals humility and a sin-repenting attitude and approach to life, which true saving faith creates in each believer. The book of Nehemiah chronicles his courage, integrity, godliness, selflessness, and compassion for the oppressed. He is willing to give up the luxury and ease of the palace to help his people. A dedicated layman, Nehemiah has the right priorities and is concerned for God’s work, knowing when to encourage and rebuke. He is strong in prayer and gives all the glory and credit to God.

The privilege of Nehemiah’s position did not lead to pride or arrogance because he knew the reality of God’s rich providence. Whatever privilege he enjoyed was the function and hand of the God of heaven. Nehemiah teaches us the extent of God’s providence which is at work in the privilege and the daily emotions of our lives. The prayers of God’s people should be affected by the fact of God’s providence. Prayer prepares us to handle the surprising emotion that accompanies God’s special providence. The answers to our prayers have long been in motion as we pray according to the will of God. God’s providence is extensive, touching every area of life. There can be no accidents when we recognize God’s providence.


Though there is no mention of God in the whole book of Esther, His providence is seen in and through the details of the affairs of men. God is the hidden hero in the book of Esther, working subtly behind the scenes. We learn how eternal values reduce the paradox in our lives to opportunities to comfort others with the comfort we have been comforted with (2 Cor. 1).

Beautiful in form and face, Esther was raised by her first cousin since her parents were gone (Esther 2:7). Providence worked in and through her circumstances, bringing her to a position of favor in the Gentile world. Esther showed common sense by humbly seeking the advice of the king’s eunuch and by obeying the instructions of Mordecai (Esther 2:15, 20). Common sense is the observation of general providence over long periods of time, and it results in biblical wisdom.

Mordecai challenged Esther to be courageous as this was her opportunity to participate in God’s providence, warning her that God’s deliverance would come even if she remained silent (Esther 4:13-14). God’s providence will accomplish His plans whether we participate or not. He calls us to courageous action according to His values, interests, and concerns. God desires for us to flourish as we love and live for Him with divine significance.

Application Points

  • Do you recognize the amazing privilege God has given you? Are you exercising it according to God’s values, interests, and concerns with intention?
  • Do you pray according to the fact of God’s providence?
  • Do you need to take courage and participate in God’s providence?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Prov. 15:33; 18:12; 22:4; Zep. 2:3; Acts 20:19; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:12; James 1:21; 1 Peter 5:5 - humility