Pastoral Commentary for Nehemiah 3-4
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Lists of gates with which we are unfamiliar, and names of builders we can't even pronounce don't seem to be the stuff of which powerful spiritual truths are made. But this chapter is important because it lays the foundations for a chosen people, restored and rebuilt, through whom the Savior of all mankind will come. The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem is described as though one were walking counter clockwise around the city from the north. Nehemiah organized the rebuilding effort in a very systematic and coordinated manner. Note that people of all different status including nobles, and of all different walks of life, even perfume makers, were put to work as masons and builders. Some made repairs right next to their homes, while others came from outlying towns to make repairs. This is a reminder to us that sometimes we serve God with our particular gifts, and sometimes we must serve God wherever there is a need and in whatever way He wants to use us. Sanballat the governor and others became angry because of the repairs, and they mocked and ridiculed the Jews as they worked. Nehemiah prayed and the work went forward. As the height of the walls grew and the gaps were closed, Sanballat plotted to fight against the Jews. So Nehemiah posted guards for the workers and put families behind the wall at the lowest points to guard the city. Half the men would work rebuilding while the other half were armed with weapons to guard the workers. Laborers would carry materials with one arm and a sword in the other. He kept watchmen with trumpets a various places to rally the troops should the workers be attacked. They worked from dawn till dusk and guarded the walls all night long. It was rigorous and demanding duty. Nehemiah continually encouraged the people, reminding them "Our God will fight for us!"