Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had built the wall…
The true safety of God's people in the midst of the world's opposition. Nehemiah represents the spirit of consecration, zeal, single-mindedness, dependence upon God, personal responsibility, and confidence in final issues, which should be the spirit of all God's people, and especially of those who hold prominent places in the Church.
I. THE FACT OF OPPOSITION.
1. It is a constant fact. The form may change, but the substance is the same. Sleepless vigilance is necessary. When violent assault is out of the question, we must fear treachery. "Come, and let us meet together" is the most dangerous shape of the world's mischievous attempt. Special watchfulness required in times like these, lest we forsake our work and put ourselves into the hands of the enemies of Christ and his people.
2. We must expect that times of special success and rapid advancement will be the times when we have most to encounter from the world. When the work of God is making no way his enemies will leave it to itself. When they see that it approaches completion ("the wall built, and no breach therein"), then they will make desperate efforts to circumvent us, and to overthrow our work; and the more open our success, the more crafty will be their schemes.
3. In appreciating the dangers of our position, we should not be content with looking outside the Church; look within it too. There will be traitors among the Lord's people. There will be lying prophets, timid friends, worldly-minded fellow labourers. The true heart must be strong in God.
II. THE VICTORY OF FAITH IN THE TIME OF SPECIAL TEMPTATION.
1. It was a victory obtained by the Spirit of God is the spirit of man. What Nehemiah needed was penetration, wisdom, self-control, fortitude, fearlessness, devotion to his work. All these qualities are given by the Spirit of God and maintained by his grace. So long as they were uppermost in the individual man, the enemies had no chance.
2. It was a victory which was bestowed as a reward of faith, and in answer to prayer. The whole attitude of Nehemiah was that of dependence upon God. "My God, strengthen thou my hands."
3. It was a very decided and definite faith which gained the victory. "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." The best defence against temptation is to be pledged to a positive public life of active service. The spirit of work should be set against the spirit of compromise. To leave duty unfulfilled is always to come down, and to come down is to be in the hands of enemies.
4. The victory was renewed many times. Each occasion added strength to the true heart. If God helps us to say No once, we shall find it easier each time afterwards. Courage grows by action. The conscious resistance of evil is both the best preparation to detect its presence, and the best uplifting of the heart above actual fears for life and safety. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)
WEB: Now it happened, when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah, and to Geshem the Arabian, and to the rest of our enemies, that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates;)