Daily Word

Call on the Lord | Nehemiah 4:4-5 (NLT)

4 Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! 5 Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.”

Nehemiah 4:4-5 (NLT)

When I am weak

When confronted with this aggressive discouragement from his enemies, Nehemiah maintained his composure. He didn’t “fly off the rails” and respond with violence or return the same rhetoric; nor did he hide in a hole. He knew he was weak but, being in God’s will, he knew He was strong. So he sought God to fight for him.

Call on the Lord

Nehemiah took his problem to the Lord. This reminds me of Psalm 18:3, “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.” It became a popular praise song in the 80’s and the Christian rock group group Petra put it on their album, Petra Praise. King David, the author of this Psalm, was chased by and opposed by many enemies including the first King of Israel, Saul, and his own son, Absolomn (see 2 Samuel 13-19). Psalm 18 is a wonderful Psalm of deliverance – I’d encourage you to read it. .

Judge my enemies

What is a bit tricky to understand is what Nehemiah prayed (and what David prayed often). See (Ps. 69:27-28, 139:19-22, and Psalm 109). He didn’t mince words, no kid gloves here:

  • May their scoffing fall back on their own heads – They are scoffing and making fun of us. I hope they experience a similar situation of weakness.
  • May they themselves become captives in a foreign land – we have suffered punishment of captivity in a foreign land. May they experience the same thing. Who knows, maybe it would humble them and cause them to seek God!
  • Do not ignore their guilt – be sure, God, to see they are guilty. 
  • Do not blot out their sins – this one is the most difficult. Can he pray God will not forgive sins?

I think we understand he was praying with great emotion and used a bit of hyperbole in his prayer, as David did. Such requests, taken literally, are not acceptable. But that God captured them in His Word allows us to see the humanness of the man and the dire need of the situation.

Call for help

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