Nehemiah 4

1 But it came to pass that when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was wroth and took great indignation and mocked the Jews.
2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria and said, What are these feeble Jews doing? Is this to be permitted them? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish on time? Will they resurrect the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which were burned?
3 Now Tobiah, the Ammonite, was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox were to go up it, he would 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 their captivity.
5 And do not cover their iniquity, nor let their sin be blotted out from before thee, for they have become angry against the builders.
6 But we built the wall, and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof, for the people were motivated to work.
7 And it came to pass when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were sound 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 over the builders 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 or see until we come in the midst among them and slay them and cause the work to cease.
12 But it came to pass, that when the Jews who dwelt among them came, they advised us ten times of all the places from which they would come upon us.
13 Therefore, I set in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I set the people by families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
14 Then I looked and rose up and said unto the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, Do not be afraid of them: remember the Lord, who 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 we had understood it, God brought their counsel to nought, and we returned all of us to the wall, each one unto his work.
16 And it came to pass from that time forth that half of the young men wrought in the work, and the other half of them held spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail; and the princes were behind all the house of Judah.
17 Those that built on the wall and those that bore burdens and those that laded wrought with one hand in the work and with the other held a weapon.
18 For the builders, each one had his sword girded by his side, and so they built. And he that sounded the shofar was by me.
19 And I said unto the principals 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 whatever place that you hear the voice of the shofar, join us there; 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 until the stars appeared.
22 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let each one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that by night they may be a guard to us, and labour by day.
23 So neither I nor my brethren nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us put off our clothes, each one put them off only for washing.

Nehemiah 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Opposition of Sanballat and others. (1-6) The designs of the adversaries. (7-15) Nehemiah's precautions. (16-23)

Verses 1-6 Many a good work has been looked upon with contempt by proud and haughty scorners. Those who disagree in almost every thing, will unite in persecution. Nehemiah did not answer these fools according to their folly, but looked up to God by prayer. God's people have often been a despised people, but he hears all the slights that are put upon them, and it is their comfort that he does so. Nehemiah had reason to think that the hearts of those sinners were desperately hardened, else he would not have prayed that their sins might never be blotted out. Good work goes on well, when people have a mind to it. The reproaches of enemies should quicken us to our duty, not drive us from it.

Verses 7-15 The hindering good work is what bad men aim at, and promise themselves success in; but good work is God's work, and it shall prosper. God has many ways of bringing to light, and so of bringing to nought, the devices and designs of his church's enemies. If our enemies cannot frighten us from duty, or deceive us into sin, they cannot hurt us. Nehemiah put himself and his cause under the Divine protection. It was the way of this good man, and should be our way. All his cares, all his griefs, all his fears, he spread before God. Before he used any means, he made his prayer to God. Having prayed, he set a watch against the enemy. If we think to secure ourselves by prayer, without watchfulness, we are slothful, and tempt God; if by watchfulness, without prayer, we are proud, and slight God: either way, we forfeit his protection. God's care of our safety, should engage and encourage us to go on with vigour in our duty. As soon as a danger is over, let us return to our work, and trust God another time.

Verses 16-23 We must watch always against spiritual enemies, and not expect that our warfare will be over till our work is ended. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, which we ought to have always at hand, and never to have to seek for it, either in our labours, or in our conflicts, as Christians. Every true Christian is both a labourer and a soldier, working with one hand, and fighting with the other. Good work is likely to go on with success, when those who labour in it, make a business of it. And Satan fears to assault the watchful Christian; or, if attacked, the Lord fights for him. Thus must we wait to the close of life, never putting off our armour till our work and warfare are ended; then we shall be welcomed to the rest and joy of our Lord.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NEHEMIAH 4

This chapter relates, how the Jews, while building, were mocked by their enemies, to which no answer was returned but by prayer to God, and they went on notwithstanding in their work, Ne 4:1-6 and how that their enemies conspired against them, to hinder them by force of arms, Ne 4:7-12 to oppose which, both spiritual and temporal weapons were made use of, so that the work was still carried on, Ne 4:13-23.

Nehemiah 4 Commentaries