1. When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble —burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
4. Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
7. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Nehemiah 4:1-9
In a conversation with a dear friend, the issue of Peninnah’s deliberate tormenting of Hannah was raised. We discussed the fact that it was God who had closed Hannah’s womb (1 Samuel 1:5), but it appears Peninah took it upon herself to tease Hannah to the point where Hannah would cry. Hannah sought audience with her Father. He answered Hannah’s prayer and blessed her with a son, Samuel, as well as other children (1 Sam 2:21).
This discussion caused me think about another case of spitefulness, in which Sanballat the Horonite took it upon himself to discourage and demolish Nehemiah’s attempts to rebuild the wall (Nehemiah 2:2-10). This despite the fact that Nehemiah had received letters and help from the king, granting him safe passage and materials he would need. Not only did Sanballat attack the plans, but he seemed to have raised up enough negative support to oppose the project, that those working with Nehemiah had to double as workmen and security guards as they worked towards their goal.
When Hannah felt attacked, she took hold of her faith in the One who is above and beyond all, and trusted Him to help her deal with what Peninnah was putting her through. Likewise, Nehemiah and His team sought their God to help them persevere against Sanballat, Tobiah, and all those who opposed the rebuilding.
Peninah , Sanballat and Tobiah may not be around now, but there are others who still walk in that same spirit today. When you face pressure from these kinds, remember the following:
- It’s not your fault – Hannah had done nothing wrong. The scriptures show that “God had closed her womb.” Life happens. What you face may not have anything to do with choices or decisions you made. Sometimes God allows painful events to happen for our good and His glory. Peninnah chose to allow herself to be used as a tormentor, but Hannah chose to seek help from a Higher Power.
- The God who delivered Hannah is the same God who directed Nehemiah. Other gods have come and gone, but Jehovah is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the same God who is able to deliver you from the tormentors that exist today! Where will you seek help?
- Nehemiah chose to rely on the only One who could give him success, even though Sanballat had gone out of His way to stop the progress of the rebuilding process, but. His detractors were in His face, but Nehemiah chose to seek direction from the One who would give Him success (Nehemiah 2:20). How do you choose?
It would be good to live in a world without Peninnahs, Sanballats or Tobiahs, but God allows them to exist for a reason. We choose how we respond to adverse situations. Do we give in and cry, blame others, walk away, or stand in the Name of the One who is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think?” (Ephesians 3:20)
Inventory/Introspection: Have I allowed my detractors to gain the upper hand, or have I sought direction from the One who never fails?
Personal Application: There will always be those who oppose or oppress me, but “the heart of the king is in the hands of the Lord” (Proverbs 2:21). I will allow my Father to direct as He pleases.
Father, there are days when trusting You is as easy as breathing. On other days, our vision is blocked by those who oppose and torment. The natural reaction of our flesh is often to rise up and try to defend what we are about, but we know that unless we stand in Your strength, we will fail.
Help me to stand strong in You, and to allow You to show me what I need to do to have success as You define it. I don’t want to tackle any obstacle on my own. Help me to run to You at the first sign of trouble, lest I cause myself greater pain in trying to fix what only You can resolve.
I understand that issues will come, but I know that You hold eternity in Your hand. If I pray, You will hear and respond. I will be deliberate in my decision to stand on your word as I trust You to see me through.
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