By the time we get to the middle of the book of Nehemiah, the work God desired Nehemiah to accomplish has been threatened in a number of ways: 1- Nehemiah’s own fear of the king (Neh. 2); 2- The ridicule of an enemy (Neh. 4); 3- The threatening assaults of opposition (Neh. 4); 4- The discontentment of the workers (Neh. 5).
Nehemiah was constantly under attack, and every test, was a test of his faith in God. It was literally an examination of his heart to see if he truly trusted the God Who had called him to this great work.
The tide turns in Nehemiah 6. Those who have opposed him in the previous chapters now seemingly open their arms to embrace him. This would be a highlight of most people’s lives. The governors of the neighboring tribes had sent an open invitation to Nehemiah to come and talk with them.
They were some of the most powerful men in the region, and they had invited measly little Nehemiah to come and talk with them.
At this point, Nehemiah faced one of the greatest threats to his obedience to God – self-exalting, self-promoting pride. It would have been easy to neglect his friends and the workers for a few days, while he travelled to the neighboring towns to meet with such dignitaries, but Nehemiah would not be deceived.
Solomon wrote, “Favor is deceitful.” As a dignitary that understood the power and influence offered by friends in high places, Solomon still said that favor was a thing not to be trusted.
Nehemiah saw through the plans of his enemies. They had been enemies of God all along, and he was not going to entangle himself with them, even if it meant the possibility of becoming more famous or more powerful.
He had his hope set in God. He trusted God to provide all things for him that he needed.
At times, the pursuit of our hearts becomes the very thing that Nehemiah declined – prestige. We seek to better ourselves in the sight of our friends. We want to look a certain way, or talk a certain way, or act a certain way, so that those around us think more highly of us. But pleasing the ungodly is not a great accomplishment, pleasing the Almighty is.
Just as Nehemiah never compromised, and sought only to do what God had called him to, we too should be willing to walk away from preeminence if it is at the expense of God’s desire.
Food For Thought: Reread Nehemiah 6:2. What phrase does Nehemiah use to describe his unsettled spirit in regards to the praises of the other nobles?