Seeing the progress of the work, Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem take action to try and throw Nehemiah off his task. Four times they try and get him away from the project under the guise of a friendly meeting (v.2), but Nehemiah’s God-given discernment knows otherwise (But they intended to do me harm).
The next trick in their book is an old one – “It is reported…” (v.6). How often have you been told that ‘people are saying’ this or that? Honestly, the people who use phrases like this must think the rest of us are so gullible. ‘People are saying’ usually means, so I have found, that ‘I think this and I want to make you think more people do as to get inside your head on this issue’.
Not content with this kind of divisive trick, Nehemiah’s foes hire a false prophet (vv.10-13) but again he uses his God-given discernment to see the truth of what was happening (v.12).
Despite all of this opposition, walls that had laid in ruins for a hundred years were rebuilt in fifty-two days (v.15). What an amazing dedication and focus the people showed under the leadership of Nehemiah! He saw, he cared, he prayed, and he acted. He led by example, he led with consistency and character, and he led with God-given discernment. Less than two months were needed to fix a century’s problem.
This is all the more impressive given that there were evidently those within the people who kept company with Tobiah (vv.17-19). Some didn’t see him for what he was (v.19), but again the discernment of Nehemiah was strong enough to see the truth of and about people.
So for you and for me, is it possible to have the God-given discernment that Nehemiah showed here? Honestly, I believe it is. I read recently that discernment is ‘…the ability to judge matters according to God’s view of them, and not according to their outward appearance.’ How do we do this then? How do we view things through a God-shaped lens?
Well, first, we need to know as much about God as we can. We do this through His self-revelation in His Word and in the person of Jesus. I can’t emphasise this enough – spend time in the Word. The Word of God is where He has revealed Himself in the most intricate detail. The Word of God bears witness to the person and work of Jesus, where God reveals Himself to us within the very human frame and context in which we all live. All that to say, if you wish to pursue the God-given discernment that Nehemiah shows here in chapter six, then immersing yourself in the Word of God simply has to be the first step.