The Pastor’s Study
The Work Opposed
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Nehemiah 4:1-14. Perhaps you have heard of “psychological warfare.” It’s used to psyche out, or demoralize a person or group. In what ways were Sanballat and Tobiah practicing psychological warfare in verses 1-3? List their specific verbal attacks and describe how each was meant to dishearten the Jews during their work of rebuilding the wall? What was their goal in these attacks?
2. How did Nehemiah and the people respond to these attacks (verses 4-5)?
3. What was the nature of their prayer? In the space below, write an outline of the prayer? Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? Why or why not? Do you think this sort of prayer is ever justified? Is it only an “Old Testament” prayer, or is there also “New Testament” warrant for such a prayer?
4. When the taunting didn’t work, what was the next plan of attack against the Jews? How did the Jews respond and what else did they do as a precaution (verse 9)? Was this wise? Was it unfaithful? Shouldn’t they have just trusted God? Why or why not?
5. It must have been discouraging enough to have their enemies undermining their work, but what happened next must have really brought them to a new level of discouragement. What happened and by whom, according to verses 10-12? In what additional ways would this undermine the work?
6. Sanballat, Tobiah, and company plotted to attack Jerusalem to prevent the completion of the wall (verse 11). How did Nehemiah respond to coming attack (verse 13)? In addition to arming the people, what do you think the strategy was in grouping the people by clans (families)?
7. What did Nehemiah say to encourage the people (verse 14)? How would appealing to family members impact the people? How would you be encouraged in the midst of the frightening prospect of a battle (or any other difficult task) if you knew you were doing so for those you loved most?
Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Let Go, and Let God.” In what ways is that good advice? In what ways is that bad advice? Is there any doubt that Nehemiah trusted God? What is the biblical evidence for your answer? What else did Nehemiah make use of?
How do you typically respond when your hopes, dreams, efforts, etc., are undermined by others? By those who are against you? By those who are closest to you? What does this intentional or unintentional “psychological warfare” do to your spiritual, emotional, and mental state? Why?
Share an experience of a time when you were undermined by another person and how you responded? What would you now do differently? In what ways does the devil seek to discourage us in our walk with Christ? How can you respond to his attacks?