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The Greatness of a Cupbearer

Written by Dave Lenehan


“Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Great story, bro. Thanks for sharing.

Now before you get concerned that this edition of Thoughts is going all sarcastic on you, let me explain.  Those seven words don’t even make up a full verse in the Bible, but they are the words of Nehemiah.  They set the stage at the end of chapter 1 for what God does for Nehemiah and the nation of Israel throughout the rest of the book.  God uses Nehemiah’s high position of king’s cupbearer to give him an audience with the king where he shares the burden and sadness that he has been carrying about the city of Jerusalem being in ruins.  As you read through the rest of the book, you’ll see over and over that God used Nehemiah not only to rebuild the city, its wall and gates, but to unify the nation once again under the Word of God. That happens a lot in the Bible.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.” (Nehemiah 1:8-11, NIV)

David could have said, “Now I was a young shepherd boy…”

Paul could have said (and did), “Now I tortured Christians and threw them in jail…”

Dorcas (Tabitha) could have said, “Now I sewed fancy clothes…”

Moses could have said, “Now I couldn’t put two words together to save my life…”

In countless places in Scripture, we see God using ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things for His Kingdom and His people.  While we may not be close advisers or servants of a king or queen or president, God has placed us where we are with the talents that we have and the stories He’s unfolded in our lives to serve Him.  What this short verse told me was that we may often never realize what God’s going to do through something very common in our lives.  Nehemiah, in fact, says that he tried not to be sad in the king’s presence, but Artaxerxes saw his change in demeanor immediately.  The king asked what was wrong. Nehemiah told him. Then God used the king’s power to pave the way for a rebuild plan that reunites a nation.  Pretty cool.

Maybe this year or even this season, things haven’t changed much for you. Nehemiah’s calling from God didn’t happen as soon as he became the king’s cupbearer – it took a while. God has the perfect time set aside to move something forward in His Kingdom through you. It might be on a scale like Nehemiah OR it might be on the scale of connecting with just one student or staff member this semester who needs a human touch in order to encounter Jesus. As Dr. Derwin Gray pointed out this week at Liberty University’s Convocation, though, don’t get too hung up on looking for or trying too hard to figure out God’s plan for your life. Let Him take care of that.  Just be ready to rejoice when it comes together!


If you haven’t read it in some time, I encourage you to read Nehemiah or at least chapters 1-4 to see how God’s plan played out.  Enjoy your day!

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