Nehemiah 4 – The Mind Games of the Enemy
Dr. Connie Lawrence
These are my study notes from Chapter 4 of the book of Nehemiah. The numbers come from Strong’s Concordance of the KJV of the Bible. You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my Facebook page from either the Fresh Oil, Judy’s or Beth’s Facebook if you have any questions or comments.
V1 – When the Jews began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Sanballat became angry, caused trouble and mocked the Jews. In front of his subordinates, Sanballat openly mocked the Jews by saying,
1. What are these feeble Jews doing?
Feeble - #537- amelal/am-ay-law’ – languid (from 535)
535 – amal/aw-mal 0 to droop, be sick, mourn; Sickly, weak. He questioned their physical abilities to accomplish the task.
2. Will they (fortify themselves –KJV) rebuild the walls?
Fortify - #5800 – loosen, relinquish, permit (translated fortify 2x in OT). Means to leave, forsake, abandon, leave behind, be left over, let go; to depart from something or to start something and not finish. He questioned their ability to complete the task itself; their commitment to the task.
3. Will they offer sacrifices?
Sacrifice – 2076 – zabach/zaw-bakh – to slaughter for sacrifice, general sacrifice. He questioned their worthiness to do the task that God had called them to. The sacrifice implies the covering for sin. It is also a form of worship – could they worship their God?
4. Will they finish the work in a day (make an end in one day-KJV)?
End – 3615 – kalah/kaw-law – to end; to cease, be finished, perish, be completed.
Day – 3117 – yowm/yome – from sunrise to sunset; the warm part of the day.
He questioned their timing for completing the work.
5. Can they revive the stones…
Revive – 2421 – chayah/khaw-yaw’ = to live, to bring back to life.
Stones – 68 – chen/eh-ben – A construction material; stones (from 1129)
1129 – banah/baw-naw – to build, establish, construct, pre-build.
He questioned their resources – talent, finances are resources for God’s work.
6. …from the heap of rubble that is burned?
Heaps – 6194 – aremah/ar-ay-maw – heap of sheafs (from 6192)
6192 – aram/aw-ram – to pile up
Rubbish – (This word is only used 2x in OT for rubbish and both times are in Neh 4) - 6083 – aphar/aw-fawr – dust, clay, earth, mud, plaster, ashes. This same word is used for dust in Gen 2:7 when God made man from the ‘dust’ of the earth.
He said that they could do nothing because of the trash of the past that had been burned. The enemy will remind you of your past and say that you cannot complete God’s work because of the fiery trials you have been through.
7. In v7 Tobiah says that even a small fox could break down the walls that had been rebuilt so far. The enemy will question the value of the work you do for God.
In response to the mouth of the enemies, in v4 Nehemiah prays that God would pay attention to what the enemy was saying and to send them into captivity. In v5, he asks God not to cover their guilt because they insulted those who did God’s work. In other words, when the enemy:
1. Questions your commitment to complete the task,
2. Questions your worthiness to do the work,
3. Questions your timing in doing the work,
4. Questions your resources,
5. Reminds you of your past trials and failings,
6. Questions the value of your task
1. Remember Isaiah 54:17 – "No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises against you, you shall dispel".
2. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
3. Remember that the enemy is already defeated; Christ has conquered him.
The response of the people to the mocking and Nehemiah’s subsequent prayer was to work even harder until the wall was ½ way up around the city (v6). As a result, the enemy became even angrier because God’s work was continuing, despite all odds. All the forces of the enemy were determined to join in order to siege Jerusalem and stir up trouble.
Nehemiah’s response (v9) was to pray some more and post guards both day and night. He prayed and put into place a plan of action.
V10 – The people of Judah stated that, "the laborers were weakening and there was too much rubble". This is unbelief in God’s ability to keep them strong and wipe out the past.
V11 – The enemies planned to come in among the workers and kill them to put an end to the work. The enemy will always plan covert operations to come inside; looking and talking like God’s people. The enemy is always able to complete this when there is little or no discernment on the part of the leadership. The leadership has to know the members well in order to see the counterfeit.
V12 – The Jews who lived near the enemies told Nehemiah 10 times that the enemy would attack. These are those who grumble, complain and have a generally bad attitude about the work.
The three things that can stop God’s work:
1. Unbelief of God’s people.
2. The enemy within.
3. Grumbling and complaining.
Nehemiah’s response to these three things was this:
1. He stationed some people, fully armed, at the weakest, lowest points in the wall (V13). These are the INTERCESSORS that hold up the wall, stand in the gap.
2. After establishing this, Nehemiah went to the rest of the people and reminded them who God is and how powerful He is. He then encouraged them to fight for themselves and for their families (V14).
V15 – When the enemy was exposed he had to leave and the people returned to their work.
V16-18 - From then until the wall was finished (52 days), ½ of the people worked while the other ½ stood beside them as guard; they were placed in pairs around the wall. Those who stood guard had a full armor with spear and bow as well as sword. Those working had the sword. His officers stood behind the people to guard them all. The man who carried the trumpet (for sounding alarm, the shofar) stayed with Nehemiah the entire time.
Intercessors are absolutely necessary for the work of God to be done. All those doing the physical work should have a prayer partner. An elite group of intercessors should be assigned to cover the entire body. The pastor should have someone who can ‘sound the alarm’.
V19-20 - Nehemiah reminded the people that their work was scattered over a large area. He told them to gather together when the shofar was sounded, at the place where it was sounded. They were to drop whatever they were doing and come to the aid of those being attacked.
When someone or a group of people in the Body is being attacked, the alarm should be sounded for everyone to drop whatever they are doing to pray and do battle for this person.
V21-23 – Nehemiah paired off the people. All were commanded to sleep inside Jerusalem at night for protection and to be prepared if the enemy attacked at night. All men wore their swords at all times, even when they relieved themselves.
There is protection and covering within a church body. We are to be prepared for a fight at all times, wearing our ‘sword’ of the Word of God.
Blessings, Dr. Connie