Nehemiah 6

Nehemiah 6

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Conspiracy Against Nehemiah

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

The Wall Is Finished

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

(ESV)


Nehemiah 6 Commentary

by Hank Workman

“But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Nehemiah 6:9

Good grief, the tactics used against Nehemiah to stop the work God called him to are laid out in stunning style.  What first began to discourage him from the work was met with Nehemiah praying and keeping on as chapter 4 detailed.  Now the enemies take another swipe.  4 different times these guys ask Nehemiah to meet to discuss matters and 4 different times Nehemiah blows the request off.  One could say this made no sense.  Even if they were his enemies and attempting to stop the work, what harm would meeting with them to discuss their issues hold?

I almost think our response would probably be to take a meeting even if we didn’t want to.  We would pray and hope that our diligence and attempt to ‘hear them out’ would bring some kind of change.  Maybe we would feel if we just had a chance to tell our side would make a difference.  We could also feel as though this would be the right thing to do in keeping with being respectful.  But Nehemiah knew these men’s hearts.  He knew their motivation was not pure.  He said ‘no way’ and kept to his guns.  There’s wisdom here for each of us when in such a position, in particular when it deals with one who is in opposition to us.  Seeking God for his counsel in the matter, sometimes if the request is not something He will use to turn things around we need to not take the meeting, even if the pressure mounts, and keep to the work God has for us.

But these hooligans aren’t done yet.  Threats come to report back to the King lies of what Nehemiah is doing.  Nehemiah keeps on keeping on.  Then a false prophet, an informer from their camp is sent in and asks for a meeting.  The goal is to once behind closed doors to kill him.  The plot exposed, Nehemiah ignores him.  What is ultimately revealed through all this is the snitches of the work, the ones giving ammo to the enemy are nobles, Jewish brothers.  They’re living a compromised life and tied by oath to the main troublemaker, Tobiah.

Despite all these things, the completion of the wall is accomplished in 52 days.

I think about the character of Nehemiah here.  He stayed true to the work God called of him.  Even as the attacks came left and right, from without and within, he prayed to God and said: “Hand me another brick.”  All too often when opposition comes against us one of our responses is usually, “God, get me out of here!”  Instead, Nehemiah prayed, “Lord, strengthen my hands.”  And God did.  He showed tremendous responsibility to the task God laid upon him.

Maybe this day you need to pray the same.  Maybe this day the attacks have mounted and discouragement is right there.  Maybe this hour there is not a reprieve from the onslaught of others coming against you.  Maybe this day your prayer needs to be, “Lord, strengthen my hands.”  Because whatever He has asked of you, whatever impossibility it may seem at the moment, whatever attacks you are experiencing all are with the hopes of shutting down what you’re doing.  “Lord strengthen my hands.”  And He will.


Nehemiah 6 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Nehemiah is determined to fulfill the Lord’s work and rebuild the walls despite facing every obstacle imaginable thus far. He has persevered during the mockery from his enemies and the turmoil from his own people. Satan would now pull out all the stops. His most deadly deception would be the most difficult to overcome for Nehemiah; it was personal.

When Satan aims to take down a ministry or a church, he eventually goes for the jugular. Spirit-led and God-fearing leaders will always become the prime targets to take the brunt of his warfare. If he can take down the leader, he can take down the ministry and he can wipe out the body. But by the strength of the Lord, Nehemiah was prepared to stand firm.

Smear Campaign

Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem first try to send a letter to lure Nehemiah into a trap. Four times Nehemiah sent back a firm response stating he could not abandon his work. Then, Sanballat had an idea. Since he could not lure Nehemiah into a trap, he would attack his character. The smear campaign began.

If you remember, Nehemiah was originally granted the permission to return to Jerusalem by Artaxerxes of Persia. There was an agreement that Nehemiah would return after the project was completed. The false allegations brought against Nehemiah accused him of fortifying his city in preparation to rebel against Artaxerxes. This, in turn, would have created a whirlwind of “what-if” scenarios for Nehemiah. If these rumors made it back to Artaxerxes, they would undoubtedly violate his trust and ignite an all-out war.

Of course, Sanballat and his companions had no intention of actually going to Artaxerxes with this information. It was merely an intimidation tactic meant to scare Nehemiah into showing up for their “meeting” (assassination plot). If you have ever been in a situation where you have been slandered, intimidated, and manipulated in the form of a smear campaign, you can relate to the turmoil of Nehemiah’s mind. He needed strength… and the Lord delivered.

For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished.” But now, my God, strengthen me.

Nehemiah 6:9 HCSB

The False Prophet

The final act in the plot against Nehemiah was the hiring of a false prophet to tempt Nehemiah into sinning. This would have destroyed his credibility with his fellow Jews and ultimately halted the work on the temple.

“When Nehemiah visited him, Shemaiah proposed that they enter the holy place to be safe from assassins. Shemaiah’s suggestion was for Nehemiah to flee into the sanctuary. It was lawful for an Israelite to seek refuge at the altar outside the temple (Exo 21:13-14), but only a priest could enter the holy place. Nehemiah’s enemies were subtly tempting him. If they could trap him in sin, this would discredit him and the work. Then the people would cease to follow him, and the work on the wall would stop.”

Nelson’s Commentary

Some commentators believe that Shemaiah was the son of a priest and an intimate friend of Nehemiah. It is incredible to consider that Nehemiah was able to resist this plot that extended all the way down to a close friendship. God not only strengthened Nehemiah, but He gave him the wisdom and discernment to avoid compromising. He would not run and hide; he would not live in fear; he would not be intimidated. He stood firm.

The fruit of his life was tangible. The wall was finished in 52 days. His enemies who relentlessly plotted to intimidate him now trembled with fear. In the end, all the glory went to God, just as it should. The unbelieving world looked at the results of Nehemiah’s leadership and knew, without a doubt, this task had been accomplished by the One True God.

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