Return from Exile: Nehemiah 6-9.3 (1)
Pray Psalm 3.1-4.
LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.”
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the LORD with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.
Sing Psalm 3.1-4.
(Eventide: Abide with Me)
Lord, all around my foes are multiplied, rising against me, like a ‘whelming tide;
many are saying of my weary soul, “Not even God can save and make him whole!”
You are a mercy shield about me, Lord, raising me by Your glory and Your Word.
Prayers fraught with tears stream from me like a fount, yet God will answer from His holy mount.
Read and meditate on Nehemiah 6.1-14.
1. What were Nehemiah’s enemies plotting?
2. Why did Nehemiah refuse to flee into the temple?
If our enemy can’t kill us, he’ll do his best to discredit us.
The enemies of Nehemiah must have been rather daft. They had already threatened to attack Nehemiah and those who were working on the wall. How could they possibly think he would agree to meet with them in some obscure village (vv.1-4)? Four times they tried to entice him, and four times he told them he preferred not.
So they changed their tactic. They sought a way to bring a bad report about him to the Persian king (vv. 5-10). He denied their charge and put it on them as a bald-faced lie (v. 8). All the while, he continued looking to the Lord (v. 9).
One more try: If they could not discredit him before the king, they would try to do so before the people. Shake him up. Make him afraid. Get him to seek refuge in the temple. They enlisted an informer to set this trap for Nehemiah (vv. 10-14). But Nehemiah saw through it and refused to take the bait. Those who conspired against him—including prophets and a prophetess—he committed to the Lord (v. 14). He would take no retributive action of his own.
And he did not give in to fear. Threats? Conspiracies? Bad reports? God can handle all that and more.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Nehemiah took comfort in the truth that God knew exactly what was going on.
He did not have to defend himself to his audience of One.
God would take care of him.
The warning here to us is this: do not let a bad attitude toward anyone fester in your heart, “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root of bitterness…” (Deut. 29.18). “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright” (Heb. 12.15, 16).
It is the slippery slope to all kinds of sin.
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem really didn’t like Nehemiah. And their distaste for him and his work made them daft and foolish. But evil, nonetheless.
We do not want to become like them.
“Do they not go astray who devise evil?
But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good” (Prov. 14.22).
So, we must decidedly extricate our hearts from their ways:
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them” (Ps. 135.15-18; Ps. 115.4-8).
We will always be troubled by God’s enemies. Always.
We just do not want to be like them or trust in the things that make them captive to evil.
So we guard our hearts with “all diligence” (Prov. 4.23).
Knowing that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3.12).
Let’s just wholeheartedly make sure that the three amigos’ bitterness and idols never become our cup of tea.
1. The great enemy of your soul is the devil. How can you tell when he is beginning to entice or entrap you?
2. What should you do when you recognize that you are being confronted by the enemy of your soul?
3. How can believers encourage one another to stand firm in the Lord, like Nehemiah? Whom will you encourage today?
When, in our Christian work and warfare, we enter upon any service or conflict, this is a good prayer, I have such a duty to do, such a temptation to grapple with; now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Every temptation to draw us from duty, should quicken us the more to duty. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Nehemiah 6.1-9
Pray Psalm 3.5-8.
The walls of churches everywhere are broken down, and the world and its ways are pouring in. Call on the Lord to revive His people, renew His churches, and lead us to recover our mission of making all the nations disciples.
Sing Psalm 3.5-8.
(Eventide: Abide with Me)
Waking and sleeping, guarded by Your grace, when foes by thousands stand before my face,
when countless dangers ‘round me are arrayed, I will not fear, I will not be afraid!
Rise up, O Lord, rise up and rescue me! Let all my foes destroyed and routed be!
Grace and salvation, Lord, are Yours alone. Bless and protect all those You call Your own.
T. M. and Susie Moore
Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.