Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said…
Defeated again, the enemy has recourse to other schemes. It would be interesting to know what were the expectations with which Nehemiah set out from Susa to enter upon the work before him. If we could tell what was then in his mind, we should probably find there anticipations very unlike indeed to his actual experiences. Probably, if he could have foreseen his difficulties, he might have shrunk from the task. Happily we do not foresee the perplexities of Christian toil; seen as by a prophetic glance, they would overwhelm us; but coining upon us one by one, they can be met bravely, and conquered successfully. We look now at -
I. THE TRIAL OF FAITH IN THE WORK OF GOD.
1. Their former plots failing, another yet more subtle is tried. Sanballat and Tobiah induce a prophet, Shemaiah (ver. 10), and a prophetess, Noadiah (ver. 14), to urge Nehemiah to take refuge from assassination in the temple; to hide himself unlawfully, lest he should be smitten at his post of duty; in fact, "to be afraid, and sin," and thus give occasion for "an evil report, that they might reproach" him (ver. 13). The insidiousness of the temptation may be gathered from the words of indignation in which Nehemiah invokes the Divine reprobation on the guilty tempters (ver. 14). But,
2. Nehemiah is yet further tried. His own people are keeping up a correspondence with the enemy. Nobles of Judah are writing to and hearing from Tobiah (ver. 17). A dangerous alliance led to intimacy, to perversion, to conspiracy (ver. 18). These men who should have been the first and the strongest to help are those who come to hinder; praising the man who was doing his utmost to overturn and ruin everything (ver. 19), and carrying back to the enemy the words of the governor (ver. 19). When we are doing our best to serve our Master and our fellows, and are naturally looking to those who are bound in the same holy bonds with ourselves, more especially to those who are as "prophets" or "prophetesses" in our ranks, or to those who are as "nobles" amongst us, to stand by our side and aid us in our toil, and when, instead of succour, we find them undermining our influence, we are tempted to despair, so keen is the trial of our faith. Yet we may win -
II. THE VICTORY OF THE BRAVE AND TRUE (vers. 11, 15, 16). Here we have -
1. The fact of success. The wall was built: it was "finished in fifty and two days" (ver. 15). Neither open threats nor secret plots weakened the strength or lessened the labour of the busy workmen, and the good work was accomplished.
2. A powerful incentive leading to victory. Nehemiah made an excellent appeal to himself. He considered who he was, and what was worthy and unworthy of the post he held. "Should such a man as I flee?" (ver. 11).
3. The fruits of victory (ver. 16). The enemy and all the heathen "were much cast down in their own eyes," and they "perceived that this work was wrought of our God." Their humiliation was an excellent thing for them, and the name of God being glorified was a source of joy and gratulation to the good. There is victory to be won under the fiercest temptation if we only be true to all we know. Let us, in the dark hour of the trial of faith -
1. Consider what is worthy of the position we hold. Should such as we are - missionaries, ministers, evangelists, teachers, leaders, members of the Church of Christ - flee from the post of duty or danger?
"Put on the gospel armour, and, watching unto prayer,
Where duty calls, or danger, be never wanting there." The "guard" in his army "dies, but does not surrender."
2. Consider what will redound to the glory of Christ. If only we hold on, "faint yet pursuing," fighting till the day is won, the enemy will be humiliated, and his holy name be honoured. Our once crucified Saviour shall be "exalted and extolled, and be very high" (Isaiah lit. 13). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
WEB: I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home; and he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple; for they will come to kill you; yes, in the night will they come to kill you."