But now there is a new plan adopted by the enemy. They had failed to alarm. The governor was on his guard, and the people accordingly. The next thing we find is they proposed a meeting. Why should not they live at peace? Why should they not have communion with one another? "Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" You see, it was not merely some ordinary call. It was that with which the glory of God was bound up. As long as the remnant were not in the place that God had given them as the city where His eyes were - as long as it was a mere heap of ruins - it was evident that it might be an object of compassion; but there was no witness for the Lord there. So, we are told, they sent unto him four times, and he answered them after the same manner.
But there was, next after this, another effort made. They sent persons to preach of him in Jerusalem - "There is a king in Judah," and to pretend that Nehemiah was affecting the throne. "Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together." This was a friendly warning as it appeared. "Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done."
There was a third effort, still more subtle (ver. 10). "I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God." Here was an enemy within. He proposed to Nehemiah to hide himself in the temple. Nehemiah utterly refuses. "And I said, Should such a man as I flee?" Where would have been his faith? How could a man leave the children, and show that all he cared for was his own personal safety? Besides, there would have been a flagrant defiance of the glory of God. It was contrary to God for an Israelite to use the sanctuary of Jehovah as the heathen did. The heathen made their sanctuaries to be a place of refuge in case of danger to their life; but God never permitted such a thing in His temple. His temple was for His worship, according to His word. This was, therefore, an heathenish idea that was suggested to Nehemiah, and this by a prophet, but he gave a false prophecy. Nehemiah "perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me; for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him." Oh, what schemes, what devices, if possible, to drag the people, and to drag a servant of God among the people, from the path of faith! So all these things were detected by simplicity, by cleaving to the word of the Lord.