Ezra 7:12,13,23,26 “From Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the teacher of the law of the God of heaven. Greetings. “I decree that any of the people of Israel in my kingdom, including the priests and Levites, may volunteer to return to Jerusalem with you. ... Be careful to provide whatever the God of heaven demands for his Temple, for why should we risk bringing God’s anger against the realm of the king and his sons? ... Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.”
Ezra 8:21-22 And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we travelled. For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.”
This is not really a SOAP, as i can't think of an application, but just an observation: isn't it wonderful how God can sometimes us non-believers to extend His purpose?
The identity of Ahasuerus which we just read a few days ago in Esther is unclear. Normally, Ahasuerus refers to Xerxes, and Xerxes I was the father of Artaxerxes I. So it may be that Artaxerxes was favourably predisposed towards the God of Israel because of his stepmother Esther.
But there is also evidence that the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther was actually Artaxerxes himself, in which case it makes even more sense that he supported the Jews, being so much taken by Esther (especially, see the Septuagint version of Esther, which is even more dramatic -- almost romance-novel-like -- in describing the relationship between the king and Esther. The Septuagint version of Esther also explicitly calls the king Artaxerxes.)
However, the attitude that Yahweh is a real god among the many gods and it's always good to have another god on your side is quite common in pagan cultures -- though, the Persians were not pagans, but rather, Zoroastrians, so that assumption might not hold.
In any case, I find it cool how God engineered a non-believer to give so much support to believers -- just as He did with Cyrus earlier.