Nehemiah completes the wall

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes who was motivated to return to his homeland of Judah to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Nehemiah’s leadership is marked by his dependence on God in his prayers and his reliance on godly wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs. After many threats from outside his country and many tribulations from within his country, Nehemiah and the Jews completed restoring the wall in 52 days.

Before the completion, Nehemiah’s opponent’s laid several traps for him. One was distraction. In Nehemiah 6:1-4, Sanballat and Geshem, Nehemiah’s enemies, asked to meet him four times. Knowing it was a trap, Nehemiah’s reply each time was the same–I am busy building our wall. This wise decision was similar to the message of Proverbs 21:16, which says, “Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.”

The next trap was misrepresentation. In Nehemiah 6:6-8, it says Sanballat sent a message saying, “‘It is reported among the nations—and Geshem 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 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.’ I sent him this reply: ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.’” Nehemiah’s reply and rejection of the meeting was wise. Proverbs 26:24-25 says, “Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts.” In addition to this prudent decision, Nehemiah prayed that God would strengthen his hands.

The final trap was intimidation. One day a man named Shemaiah said people were coming to kill Nehemiah, so he should hide in the Temple. Entering the sanctuary was forbidden because Nehemiah was not a priest (Numbers 18:7), so he rejected that advice. By considering the threat and the subsequent penalty for disobeying God’s command, Nehemiah practiced Proverbs 14:15. It says, “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.”

Despite all these traps, and even more, the wall was completed on October 2, 445 B.C. (Nehemiah 6:15-16). Because God helped the Jews finish the wall, their opponents lost confidence. Nehemiah 6:16 says, ‘When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”

There is more to the book of Nehemiah, but this first half of the book focuses on the wall reconstruction and the wise decisions Nehemiah made, seeking God in prayer along the way. It displays the truth of Proverbs 21:30–“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

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