In The Word
Read: Nehemiah 4
4 Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry, and he mocked the Jews.2 And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy people of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore the temple for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in a day? Can they revive the stones from the heaps of rubble, even the burned ones?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him, and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox were to jump on it, it would break their stone wall down!”
4 Hear, O our God, how we are an object of contempt! Return their taunting on their own heads, and turn them into plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not forgive their guilt and do not let their sin be wiped out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.
6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
7 Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, andthat the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. 8 So all of them conspired together to come to fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.
9 But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
10 And so in Judah it was said:
“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubble;
And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”
11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them, and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” 13 then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 When I saw their fear, I stood and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
15 Now when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 And from that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them kept hold of the spears, the shields, the bows, and the coats of mail; and the captains were behind all the house of Judah.17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens carried with one hand doing the work, and the other keeping hold of a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword strapped to his waist as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. 19 And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. 20 At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, assemble to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Each man with his servant shall spend the night within Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.” 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me—none of us removed our clothes; each took his weapon even to the water.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
Nehemiah and the other workers found opposition that attempted to stop their work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s city wall. First, three non-Jews ridiculed and mocked the workers’ efforts. How did Nehemiah answer them? He prayed to his God! The enemy was stopped, but then they threatened to use force to have their way. Nehemiah prayed again, and he wisely set up day and night watch guards. With the rubble in the city and the danger outside of it, the workers became discouraged and started complaining. Nehemiah kept praying, building, and watching. Lastly, the enemy started a rumor that they would invade the city. So Nehemiah set a guard to watch for the enemy and had the workers carry a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.
God’s people will always have persistent enemies. The key is to not fear the enemy because God is on our side. Nehemiah said, “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome” (Nehemiah 4:14). If we pray, God will show us the wise response so that His work is not stopped.
Nehemiah’s enemies used ridicule, threats of force, discouragement, and rumors to try and stop the good work of God. Nehemiah responded by praying, watching, and continuing to work. How has the enemy tried to stop you from carrying out God’s work? And how did you respond? We are not meant to be discouraged (Galatians 6:9). No matter the enemy’s tactics, we shouldn’t stop praying and doing God’s work.