September 27: Nehemiah 6-7
1 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Our devotional for today seems especially appropriate in our country with the media being dominated by the upcoming presidential candidates. As the candidates rally themselves toward the promise of victory, charge after charge is slung at their opponent; it is very hard to tell the true accusations from the false ones. This is not a new tactic known only to our day. As a matter of fact, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem found mud-slinging to be a very effective tool against Nehemiah.
First, Sanballat and Geshem sent word to Nehemiah that they wanted to meet with him. Knowing that they were intending to do him harm, Nehemiah refused to stop the work of rebuilding the wall to meet with them. When that did not work, the rumors began to spread among the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the surrounding cities that the Jews were rebuilding the wall because they intended to rebel against the king and make Nehemiah their king.
The sad thing about rumors is that it does not matter in the least whether they are true or false to be effective. That is why it often hurts us so much if our good name is slandered in the community in which we live. Even though the rumor spread may be proved to be false, the damage is already done. How do we handle that?
How did Nehemiah handle the rumors? He wrote a letter of denial to Sanballat and Geshem, prayed to God for strength to go on, and continued building the wall.
Did Nehemiah's enemies finally give up? No. If one plan failed, they soon generated another plan. Do not be surprised if you are experiencing the same thing. Pray for the strength to respond like Nehemiah. Our goal while here on this earth is not to try to please everyone or to be liked by everyone. Of course we would love it if that could ever happen, but as long as sin exists in the world, the enemies of God will plot against His children. The more we attempt to live for the Lord, the stronger Satan works to discourage and defame our name.
The only One we are to please is God, Himself! That is enough of a task in and of itself! Proverbs 16:7 tells us, When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Pray for strength and wisdom to commit your life wholly unto the Lord, and to please Him in all that you do.
God Bless You,
All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.