Nehemiah 4

God’s people are often a despised people, loaded with contempt, but the reproaches of enemies should rather quicken them to duty than drive them from it. Those who cast contempt on God’s people, in reality despise God Himself and prepare for themselves everlasting shame.

1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.

2 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:

5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

7 ¶ But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,

8 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

10 And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.

11 And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.

12 And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.

13 ¶ Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.

16 And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.

17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.

18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.

19 ¶ And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.

20 In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.

21 So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.

22 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day.

23 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.

Nehemiah 4:1-12 – Braving Ridicule and Treachery

   Reproach, Nehemiah 4:1-6. Whenever God’s work revives, there is sure to be evil-speaking and reproach. It is a mistake to reply. Let us hand over our cause to God, and go on with His work. It matters very little what men say, as long as He is pleased. Had Nehemiah had the message of Christ he would not have prayed as in Nehemiah 2:5. Our Lord taught us to intercede for our enemies, Matthew 5:44. But let us emulate Nehemiah’s zeal for the name of God, and let us remember that increased light means increased responsibility, Matthew 11:11. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Nehemiah 4:9 – Don’t wait for some work to turn up but go and turn up some work. You may work without praying but you can’t pray without working. (Hudson Taylor)

Nehemiah 4:13-23 – The Triumph of Courage and Devotion

   The work of rebuilding the ruins of Zion is typical of our efforts as Christians to counteract the deterioration which is ever at work in our own hearts, in the professing Church, and in society. No one who attempts this work will escape hostility, covert or manifested. That is a suggestive attitude pictured here; the girded sword, the spear in one hand, and the trowel in the other. So they wrought, with ear intent for the trumpet sound, ready for any emergency, and yet sure that God would fight for them. All the people of God should make common cause against a common foe. We stand or fall together, Nehemiah 4:20. Our hands must be familiar with the sword against the attack of our spiritual enemies, and with the trowel to contribute our bit of work towards God’s building. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Nehemiah 4:14—Remember the Lord.

   It was uncommonly good advice. Amid all the wise precautions taken by this man of sanctified common-sense, he kept bringing the people back to God. God was amongst them. God would fight for them. God was going to bring the counsel of their enemies to nought.
   This would make a good motto for daily living. If in all circumstances we would remember the Lord, the way would be brightened; the burdens would fall; our spirits would never droop; and songs of joy would take the place of sadness. Whenever enemies assail and difficulties gather like storm-clouds, look away from them and remember the Lord. When hemmed in on every side, be sure that He can help you from His holy heaven; remember the Lord. When heart and flesh fail, and you do not know what to do for the best, be sure to remember the Lord, and act as in His most holy presence. What a comfort and strength it is to see a friend, when standing amid a crowd of adversaries intent on your destruction, and to know that he will act and speak for you! But remember that Jesus is always like that.
   You say that you forget so soon; that you would remember, though at the critical moment you are betrayed into forgetfulness. But you must recall His precious promise, that the Holy Spirit will bring all things to remembrance. If only you will trust the difficulty into His hands, you will find that He will gladly undertake it; and as long as you leave it with Him, you will hear His voice rising in your heart, and saying, “Remember the Lord.”
       “Watch with me, Jesus, in my loneliness,
          Though others say me Nay, yet say Thou, Yes;
       Though others pass me by, stop Thou to bless,” —Our Daily Homily