I praise You, Father, that I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence. Meet me here, I pray (Heb. 4:16).
Read Nehemiah 6:1–14
Further Opposition to the Rebuilding
6 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages[a] on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem[b] says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
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 realized 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.
a Nehemiah 6:2 Or in Kephirim
b Nehemiah 6:6 Hebrew Gashmu, a variant of Geshem
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat’s the most recent “fake news” article you read?
“Fake news” is nothing new. Long before the internet, it was being deployed to great effect by Israel’s enemies. Yet look at how Nehemiah dealt with it.
Verse 8 is one of my absolute favorites in the whole Bible. You can hear the dripping scorn in Nehemiah’s voice as he says, “You are just making it up out of your head”!
Throughout this passage Nehemiah gives us a wonderful example of discernment and utter confidence in what God had called him to do. He knew who he was, why he was there, and what really mattered. How? Because he knew his God.
Throughout this week’s readings we have seen time and again that Nehemiah’s automatic response to every situation was prayer—he was steeped in it. As a result, he knew God deeply, knew what God had called him to do, and could call on God’s strength to do it, with complete assurance. This kind of wisdom and security are available to us, too. While God responds to the prayers of every believer, this deep-seated assurance develops as the fruit of years of habitual prayer and communion with God.
In what situations do you need wisdom? Read James 1:5–8. Set about to follow James’s instructions in your situation.
Lord, please help me to develop Nehemiah’s habit of bringing everything to You in prayer, and give me Your wisdom.
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