There is a man in the Bible who lost his life through jealousy and rebellion. If his sights had been raised to the devotional level of his descendants, he would have been a happy, contented man of vision. Our contrast is between Korah, whose death is recorded in Numbers 16, and the sons of Korah for whom Psalm 45 was written probably 400 years later. Korah’s heart was filled with haughtiness, discontent, ambition and bitterness which led to such tragic circumstances that his name is linked with two of history’s worst reprobates, Cain and Balaam in the short letter by Jude in the New Testament.
But the sons of Korah sing from hearts that are not only filled but bubbling over with gracious, beautiful, loving; joyful things concerning the king, for that is the meaning of “goodly” in Psalm 45:1. If only Korah had said, “My work is for a king” (v.1 Revised Version Margin); what a different outcome there could have been. But he had things in wrong perspective; his sights were not raised above his discontent and selfish ambitions. The sad conclusion is that his work was for himself.
The sight which greeted Nehemiah when he arrived at Jerusalem after a wearying journey of months, would have broken the spirit of many other great men. Untouched rubble, burned gates, broken wall, and a dispirited people. Chaos in contrast to the orderly array of the palace and environs of Shushan, which he had left. Instead of despair or defeat, he met the enormity of the task in the spirit of the words: “My work is for the King”. Before he ventured out from Shushan he had spent time in the King’s presence weeping, mourning, fasting, praying, and pleading with Him to remember the promise to His people if they returned to the land (Nehemiah 1:9).
It is no surprise, then, to hear from such a man these words: “… the hand of my God which was good upon me … then they set their hands to this good work (2:18) … So we built the wall … So we laboured in the work; and half of the men held the spears from daybreak till the stars appeared (4:6,21)… Indeed, I continued the work (5:16)… So the wall was finished … in fifty-two days (6:15)”. Against mockings, tauntings, threats, and devious plots by the enemy, Nehemiah and his people completed a memorable task against almost insurmountable odds. They climbed their Mount Everest and reached the top. Their flag might have said, “Excelsior”, but instead it read, “My work is for the King”. Let us then rejoice! Let our hearts overflow with joy, grace, beauty – the “goodly things”! The Lord reigns! My work is for the King!