Nehemiah was the king's cupbearer, living securely in the palace of Shushan, ever close to the King's presence, always at His beck and call.
Meanwhile, his fellow captive Jews were "in great affliction and reproach" because the walls and gates had been destroyed. Walls were a city's chief defense against enemy forces. The gates, in addition to being a defense, were also a city's identity; in some instances, the gates even represented the "glory" of a city.
With no walls to defend her, the former Jerusalem was easy prey for marauding armies. With her gates burned, she had lost her identity, indeed, her glory. No doubt Jerusalem had brought upon herself this tragic fall from Jehovah's graces; yet there was a man whose heart was not calloused to her downfall. Nehemiah received word about the reproach of his brethren, and his heart was broken. He sat down to weep, to implore God for the plight of his own countrymen, and even to repent on their behalf.
I wonder, while you're in the palace, can your heart still be touched with the plight of those who have brought about their own ruination? Or are you so secure, so comfortable in your own calling as the King's servant, that you scarcely remember those whom you once called "brethren"?