10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, ‘Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you – by night they are coming to kill you.’11 But I said, ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!’ 12 I realised that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.” NIV

I remember one Christmas morning, when we opened the fridge door. Something didn’t quite smell right. Sadly, the something was our frozen turkey that we’d bought in advance, being assured by the shop assistant that it would keep until Christmas Day. Thankfully, our sense of small warned us off before we, and grandad and grandma, got food poisoning!

Once more in this story, spiritual discernment kicked in (12,13). Nehemiah sniffed out yet another ruse. Sometimes your ‘nose’ just tells you something is awry. This doesn’t smell right. Under the clothing of seemingly spiritual talk, there may lurk the b.o. of ungodly intentions. If Nehemiah could be successfully discredited, the Jews would no longer have a leader to look up to.

So the attacks kept coming in on Nehemiah’s goal mouth. Here another shot was fired from another angle. But it was all designed to frighten Nehemiah (and the people), and bring the work to a halt. It did not succeed (15). Nehemiah repeatedly defended his goal.

As we have to navigate our way through this putrid world, with its numerous temptations and pot-holes, may we always remember who we are (11) and live accordingly. The Duke of Windsor, the uncrowned King Edward VIII, recalling his boyhood as Prince of Wales, said, ‘My father (King George V) was a strict disciplinarian. Sometimes when I had done something wrong, he would admonish me saying, ‘’My dear boy, you must always remember who you are.’’ ‘

Nehemiah certainly did.