When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it…
Here is the enterprise briefly sketched out: the ruin to be built up; the surrounding sea of scorn, hatred, and opposition to be kept back; the co-operation of rulers and people to be maintained. One man evidently to be the life and soul of the whole work. "I told not a man what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem."
I. All truly religious work should be accomplished in the spirit of UNCOMPROMISING FAITHFULNESS.
1. Complete independence of those who have no heart to "seek the welfare of the children of Israel."
2. Fearlessness of opposition whether open or treacherous.
3. Wise discretion in the use of methods. The less confident must be held up by the men of stronger faith. It is well sometimes to commit the energies of good men to a worthy enterprise before they calculate too much, lest their hearts should misgive them.
4. The true leader must not wait for others. Promptitude is the soul of activity and the seal of success. Nehemiah begins with his night expedition of survey: "I and some few men with me."
II. REALITY AND TRUTH is the basis of all faith and zeal for God. Look at the facts. "Ye see the distress." Jerusalem lying waste; its gates burned with fire; actual reproach on the people of God. Whatever we attempt to build up, whether the edifice of our own religious life, or the prosperity of the Church, or the structure of Christian evidence, let us be sure that we understand the real state of the case; what is in ruins, what remains unshaken, what will be expected of us, what is the reproach which has to be wiped away; we must neither extenuate nor exaggerate.
III. FELLOWSHIP and CO-OPERATION the hope of a revived Church. "Come and let us build. However needful that good men should, in some respects and for a time, work alone (Nehemiah told nothing at first to the Jews - priests, nobles rulers and the rest"), when the great effort has to be made, it should be made in the spirit of union and brotherly love. "I told them." "And they said, Let us rise up and build." The true co-operation will not be a mere association of individuals, but a spiritual brotherhood, a covenant with God and with one another, recognising the "hand of God," and the "good work," and the Divinely-appointed ministry, and the special guidance and grace, both already bestowed and promised.
IV. ALL SUCCESS, as against the world and its enmity, in face of scorn, contumely, falsehood, and evil devices, MUST COME OUT OF THE HARMONY BETWEEN GOD'S PURPOSES AND OUR WILL. He will prosper. We will arise and build. We must look to it that our portion, our right, our memorial are in Jerusalem. There are the three great supports to every earnest worker's confidence and hope. He has cast in his lot with God's people; he has entered into covenant relation with God, and has therefore a right in Jerusalem; it is the seat and fountain of his most blessed memories. "There his best friends, his kindred dwell; there God his Saviour reigns." All happy, successful work in the Church of Christ will be work done by spiritual men, actuated by spiritual motives, and depending on spiritual strength. The greatest hindrance to the progress of true religion has been the meddling with its operations by those who "have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem." - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
WEB: When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a man had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.