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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

Nehemiah 6



Verses 1-19

CHAPTER 6 DISCLOSES to us that, as the building of the wall neared completion the opposition from without was intensified, and took on more subtle forms. The first we might characterize as compromise, with a desire to inflict hurt, in this case evidently mischief of a personal sort. The request that there should be a conference in some village on the plain of Ono seemed reasonable enough then. In our day such a conference would have a special appeal, for all over the world nations and even tribes are full of disputes, and conferences continually take place, in order that, by some measure of compromise on both sides, open conflict may be avoided. Present-day statesmen would be very sympathetic to the suggestion of Sanballat and his friends.

But, when the truth of God or the work of God is in question, compromise is not to be entertained. The servant of God today may not fear physical mischief, but he knows that what is of God is not subject to human arrangement, however plausible such a compromise may appear to be.

The adversaries were persistent for they sent four times, and even a fifth, when they altered their tactics and resorted to lying misrepresentation. They accused him of desiring to throw off the Persian yoke and make himself a king. Similar tactics were employed by adversaries in the early days of the Gospel. Paul, for instance, was accused of being, 'a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world' (Acts 24:5); and even in our day quite untrue charges have been levelled against preachers of the Gospel. These untrue charges against Nehemiah occasioned fear, though they knew them to be untrue, but in verse Nehemiah 6:9 we see that they only cast him afresh upon God. If opposition today casts us upon God, we shall ultimately profit thereby.

Verses Nehemiah 6:10-13, show us that the adversaries tried a third device, perhaps more crafty and subtle than the earlier ones. They hired a Jew, one of Nehemiah's own people, to alarm him as to his own danger of assassination, urging him to protect himself by doing something which would have been reprehensible according to his own religion. Not being one of the priests, to enter the temple and hide there was not permissible for him. If compromise and false accusation had not succeeded in moving him, they hoped to accomplish it by entrapping him in a sin against the law of his God. But perceiving their wickedness, and calling again upon his God, this snare too was avoided by this God-fearing man.

How often have many of us, who seek to serve the Lord in this our day, been entrapped in somewhat similar fashion when opposed, committing ourselves in spirit, in word, in action to what is really sin against Him. If we would be delivered from entanglement in any of these three ways, let us keep in touch with God, as we see Nehemiah doing in this chapter. There is every reason for us to do so, since on the basis of His death and resurrection we are brought into such near and loving relationship with Him.

We must note verse Nehemiah 6:14, for it records the distressing fact that certain men who were prophets among the people, and even a prophetess, were in league, with the adversaries and acting with them. Enemies of God's work, of a more secret sort, and even amongst the professed people of God, are really more dangerous to the work of God than opponents of an open sort. God, however, was behind the work on the wall, and so it was duly finished, as verses Nehemiah 6:15-16 record, in spite of all the antagonism and craft employed against the work, so that the enemies were cast down, seeing that God was in it.

The closing verses of the chapter again emphasize what appears to have been the main difficulty. Betrayal on the part of leaders within was worse than opposition from without. And, what led to this state of affairs? Marriage alliances with the enemy had taken place on the part of some, and the wish to smooth matters over was consequently very natural on the part of the transgressors. Ever since God said to Abram, 'Get thee out', (Genesis 12:1), these forbidden marriages had been a great snare. We have sadly to confess that it has not been otherwise in the history of the church.

As we read Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, we might marvel at the number and variety of the disorders he had to refer to, and utter rebuke. What was the underlying cause? We believe this is reached in his second epistle, 2 Corinthians 6:11-18. At this point the Apostle's heart was enlarged and his mouth opened to indicate with plainness the weak spot. It was the way in which they had accepted the 'unequal', or 'diverse', yoke with unbelievers. The believer, born of God, has a nature which the unbeliever does not possess. At the same time he has within him the flesh, the old nature, which the unbeliever possesses. Hence if the diverse yoke be accepted, the believer is almost certain to be pulled in the direction of the world, and adopt some, if not many, of its ways. So let us today watch our ways, in the light of this plain New Testament scripture, lest we are guilty of a sin, which is similar to that which troubled Nehemiah in his day.


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Nehemiah 6:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

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