Nehemiah 4

1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he exploded in anger, vilifying the Jews.
2 In the company of his Samaritan cronies and military he let loose: "What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?"
3 At his side, Tobiah the Ammonite jumped in and said, "That's right! What do they think they're building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight."
4 Nehemiah prayed, "Oh listen to us, dear God. We're so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads; have their enemies cart them off as war trophies to a land of no return;
5 don't forgive their iniquity, don't wipe away their sin - they've insulted the builders!"
6 We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work.
7 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairs of the walls of Jerusalem were going so well - that the breaks in the wall were being fixed - they were absolutely furious.
8 They put their heads together and decided to fight against Jerusalem and create as much trouble as they could.
9 We countered with prayer to our God and set a round-the-clock guard against them.
10 But soon word was going around in Judah, The builders are pooped, the rubbish piles up; We're in over our heads, we can't build this wall.
11 And all this time our enemies were saying, "They won't know what hit them. Before they know it we'll be at their throats, killing them right and left. That will put a stop to the work!"
12 The Jews who were their neighbors kept reporting, "They have us surrounded; they're going to attack!" If we heard it once, we heard it ten times.
13 So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows.
14 After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: "Don't be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
15 Our enemies learned that we knew all about their plan and that God had frustrated it. And we went back to the wall and went to work.
16 From then on half of my young men worked while the other half stood guard with lances, shields, bows, and mail armor. Military officers served as backup for everyone in Judah who was at work rebuilding the wall.
17 The common laborers held a tool in one hand and a spear in the other.
18 Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side as he worked. I kept the trumpeter at my side to sound the alert.
19 Then I spoke to the nobles and officials and everyone else: "There's a lot of work going on and we are spread out all along the wall, separated from each other.
20 When you hear the trumpet call, join us there; our God will fight for us."
21 And so we kept working, from first light until the stars came out, half of us holding lances.
22 I also instructed the people, "Each person and his helper is to stay inside Jerusalem - guards by night and workmen by day."
23 We all slept in our clothes - I, my brothers, my workmen, and the guards backing me up. And each one kept his spear in his hand, even when getting water.

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