“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, ‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?’Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, ‘What they are building – even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!’ ” NIV

‘God had one Son without sin, but He never had a son without trial.’ C.H. Spurgeon.

As previously noted, the book of Nehemiah provides vivid insights into the spiritual battle all believers face. As the work of God progresses it is not unusual for God’s workforce to come under spiritual attack. This will regularly come through people, and it may take a number of forms. One of the major weapons the enemy uses against us is that of ridicule, scorn, contempt, derision. This is not the first time we have watched this weapon being wielded (see 2:19). No-one on the receiving end of it is likely to argue that it doesn’t hurt. It can be potent. Shakespeare called ridicule ‘paper bullets of the brain’, but these bullets have, all the same, brought some people down.

By the way, as we overhear the barbed comments, we do get an insight into how big a task the Jews had on their hands. They certainly were not up to it in their own strength. This was true.

Looking at verse 2, you wonder if Sanballat had the army assembled to frighten the Jews and intensify the power of his ridicule.

Tomorrow we will see how Nehemiah again lifted up ‘the shield of faith.’ But for now I think it’s important to say that coming under such verbal abuse may be part of the price you have to pay for being a disciple of Jesus. It’s not easy; but neither are we defenceless. It doesn’t have to stop us. We have armour to wear (Ephesians 6:10-20). We must use it.