“17 Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’ they asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’ 20 I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’” NIV
‘Whether in the area of science, exploration, invention, business, government, or Christian ministry, just about everyone who has ever accomplished anything has faced ridicule. Our Lord was ridiculed during His life and mocked while He was hanging on the cross. He was ‘’despised and rejected of men’’ (Isa.53:3). On the Day of Pentecost, some of the Jews in the crowd said that the Christians were drunk (Acts 2:13). The Greek philosophers called Paul a ‘’babbler’’ (17:18 NIV), and Festus told Paul he was out of his mind (26:24).’ Warren Wiersbe: OT Commentary, p.758.
Note in our passage:
- The enemies had their ‘’fiery darts’’ and they hurled them (19). This is a precursor to further attacks we are going to see happening later in the book. But notice that as soon as God’s people started to do God’s work there was an enemy backlash. Ridicule has been called ‘the weapon of those who have no other.’ Warren Wiersbe observes: ‘Just as soon as God’s people step out by faith to do His will, the enemy shows up and tries to discourage them.’ OT Commentary, p. 758.
- Nehemiah knew his ground and stood on it (20b). He knew where he and the Jews stood historically, and, most important of all, Biblically.
- Nehemiah had his shield and he used it (20). I believe Nehemiah furnishes us with a fine example of doing, in the Old Testament, what Paul in the New Testament says we all ought to do:
‘’…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’’ (Ephesians 6:16). It’s no use having a shield you don’t use!
PRAYER: Lord, I am very much aware of those ‘’’flaming arrows’’ raining down on me on a regular basis. Help me, please, to use the strong shield with which you have so generously equipped me.