Internal problems for Nehemiah

As Nehemiah led the people of Judah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he faced external threats from enemies outside their border. But he also faced internal issues as well. Nehemiah 4:10-12 lists the people’s discouragement stemmed from weakness, willingness, and worries: “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.’ Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’”

To address these issues, Nehemiah provided solutions and encouragement to the people. He knew the wisdom of Proverbs 12:25 which says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Nehemiah’s solutions included positioning guards to protect the laborers during the work. He enacted Proverbs 22:3–“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Furthermore, Nehemiah encouraged the people with this message (4:19-20): “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” This reminded the people of Proverbs 18:10 which says, “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe,” as well as Proverbs 29:25 which says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

Nehemiah also led by example. In 4:22-23 he said, “‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.’ Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”


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