But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me bad name to discredit me.
Shemaiah tries to coerce Nehemiah into fleeing to the temple to preserve his life, but Nehemiah discerns the tactic of intimidation being used against him: I realized that God had not sent him. (v.12) He refuses to run away in fear for his life and prays that God will vindicate him from those who were trying to intimidate him. (v.14) The dictionary defines intimidation “to compel or deter by a threat.” From the time when Nehemiah steps out in faith to complete the task that God calls him to do, the enemy uses tactics of ridicule, fear, fatigue, and discouragement. Now he uses deception, false rumors, and intimidation. Every time an attack comes, Nehemiah turns to God in prayer and asks Him to strengthen him. Jesus told us that we would have trials in life, but He gives us hope that He has overcome the world. Nehemiah’s relationship with God was strong, and his trust in God helped him to persevere. As we strengthen our relationship with the Lord, we will begin to trust Him more and more and will not lean on our own understanding, but will instead depend on Him to make our paths straight.
Are you under attack by criticism, intimidation, or false rumors? We all face these things from time to time, but, like Nehemiah, we must face them with God’s help. Nehemiah did not run away in fear but stood His ground by seeking God. Jesus Christ was scorned, mocked and beaten; He was nailed to the cross, and yet He endured all of this so that He could carry the sins of the world. He carried intimidation on the cross. He carried scorn on the cross, and He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross. If you are going through a time of stress, perhaps with false rumors being directed against you like they were against Nehemiah, remember that Jesus Christ carried your burden to the cross. Forgive those who assault you and lovingly confront them with God’s help.
My first reaction when I am insulted or intimidated is to flee or fight. Help me instead to stand in prayer and to seek Your help and guidance in dealing with the problem. Thank you that You endured the cross so that I might live in freedom.
In Jesus’ name, Amen