Nehemiah 4

1 And it came to pass, that when Sanaballat heard that we were building the wall he was angry: and being moved exceedingly he scoffed at the Jews.
2 And said before his brethren, and the multitude of the Samaritans: What are the silly Jews doing? Will the Gentiles let them alone? will they sacrifice and make an end in a day? are they able to raise stones out of the heaps of the rubbish, which are burnt?
3 Tobias also the Ammonite who was by him said: Let them build: if a fox go up, he will leap over their stone wall.
4 Hear thou our God, for we are despised: turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them to be despised in a land of captivity.
5 Cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thy face, because they have mocked thy builders.
6 So we built the wall, and joined it all together unto the half thereof: and the heart of the people was excited to work.
7 And it came to pass, when Sanaballat, and Tobias, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Azotians heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and the breaches began to be closed, that they were exceedingly angry.
8 And they all assembled themselves together, to come, and to fight against Jerusalem, and to prepare ambushes.
9 And we prayed to our God, and set watchmen upon the wall day and night against them.
10 And Juda said: The strength of the bearer of burdens is decayed, and the rubbish is very much, and we shall not be able to build the wall.
11 And our enemies said: Let them not know, nor understand, till we come in the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease.
12 And it came to pass, that when the Jews that dwelt by them came and told us ten times, out of all the places from whence they came to us,
13 I set the people in the place behind the wall round about in order, with their swords, and spears, and bows.
14 And I looked and rose up: and I said to the chief men and the magistrates, and to the rest of the common people: be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses.
15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that the thing had been told us, that God defeated their counsel. And we returned all of us to the walls, every man to his work.
16 And it came to pass from that day forward, that half of their young men did the work, and half were ready for to fight, with spears, and shields, and bows, and coats of mail, and the rulers were behind them in all the house of Juda.
17 Of them that built on the wall and that carried burdens, and that laded: with one of his hands he did the work, and with the other he held a sword.
18 For every one of the builders was girded with a sword about his reins. And they built, and sounded with a trumpet by me.
19 And I said to the nobles, and to the magistrates, and to the rest of the common people: The work is great and wide, and we are separated on the wall one far from another:
20 In what place soever you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, run all thither unto us: our God will fight for us.
21 And let us do the work: and let one half of us hold our spears from the rising of the morning, till the stars appear.
22 At that time also I said to the people: Let every one with his servant stay in the midst of Jerusalem, and let us take our turns in the night, and by day, to work.
23 Now I and my brethren, and my servants, and the watchmen that followed me, did not put off our clothes: only every man stripped himself when he was to be washed.

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