Friday, September 17, 2010

Nehemiah 4:1-9

1When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?"
3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!"
4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Questions to consider:

  • What are Sanballat and Tobiah’s estimations of what the Jews are building?
  • What is Nehemiah’s prayer for these men?
  • How do you pray when you are taunted, mocked, or looked down upon?
  • What point does Sanballat’s anger reach? What is the plot he and other devise?
  • What defense do the Israelites employ to counter this plot?

Possibilities for prayer:

Have you noticed the common theme that has come up in our readings over the course of this week? In this situation, when Nehemiah and his compatriots are challenged and threatened, Nehemiah’s immediate response is to pray. Here, we can see a lot of Nehemiah’s humanity--the way in which he appears angry and frustrated and wants God to visit justice upon the people causing problems.

In addition to seeking God’s help, Nehemiah takes practical action to protect himself and his workers. I think that this can be a reminder to us that we are not supposed to sit idly by and wait for God to all the work. Today, let’s not only ask for God’s assistance, but ask for wisdom about how we can be proactive about the situations ourselves.