Nehemiah is here finishing the wall of Jerusalem, and yet still has trouble created him by his enemies.
I. Tobiah, and the other adversaries of the Jews, had the mortification to see the wall built up, notwithstanding all their attempts to hinder it. The wall was begun and finished in fifty-two days, and yet we have reason to believe they rested on the sabbaths, Neh 6:15. Many were employed, and there was room for them; what they did they did cheerfully, and minded their business because they loved it. The threats of their enemies, which were intended to weaken them, it is likely, quickened them to go on with their work the more vigorously, that they might get it done before the enemy came. Thus out of the eater came forth meat. See what a great deal of work may be done in a little time if we would set about it in earnest and keep close to it. When the enemies heard that the wall was finished before they thought it was well begun, and, when they doubted not but to put a stop to it, they were much cast down in their own eyes, Neh 6:16. 1. They were ashamed of their own confidence that they should cause the work to cease; they were crest-fallen upon the disappointment. 2. They envied the prosperity and success of the Jews, grieved to see the walls of Jerusalem built, while, it may be, the kings of Persia had not permitted them thus to fortify the cities of Samaria. When Cain envied his brother his countenance fell, Gen 4:5. 3. They despaired of ever doing them the mischief they designed them, of bringing them down and making a prey of them; and well they might, for they perceived, by the wonderful success, that the work was wrought of God. Even these heathens had so much sense as, [1.] To see a special providence of God conversant about the affairs of the church when they did remarkably prosper. They said among the heathen, The Lord has done great things for them; it is his doing, Psa 126:2. God fighteth for Israel and worketh with them. [2.] To believe that God's work would be perfect. When the perceived that the work was of God they expected no other than that it would go on and prosper. [3.] To conclude that, if it were of God, it was to no purpose to think of opposing it; it would certainly prevail and be victorious.
II. Nehemiah had the vexation, notwithstanding this, to see some of his own people treacherously corresponding with Tobiah and serving his interest; and a great grief and discouragement, no doubt, it was to him. 1. Even of the nobles of Judah there were those who had so little sense of honour and their country's good as to communicate with Tobiah by letter, Neh 6:17. They wrote with all the freedom and familiarity of friends to him, and welcomed his letters to them. Could nobles do a thing so mean? Nobles of Judah so wicked a thing? It seems great men are not always wise, not always honest. 2. Many in Judah were in a strict but secret confederacy with him to advance the interest of his country, though it would certainly be the ruin of their own. They were sworn unto him, not as their prince, but as their friend and ally, because both he and his son had married daughters of Israel, Neh 6:18. See the mischief of marrying with strangers; for one heathen that was converted by it ten Jews were perverted. When once they became akin to Tobiah they soon became sworn to him. A sinful love leads to a sinful league. 3. They had the impudence to court Nehemiah himself into a friendship with him: “They reported his good deeds before me, represented him as an intelligent gentleman and well worthy my acquaintance, an honest gentleman and one that I might confide in.” We are indeed required to speak ill of no man, but never to speak well of bad men. Those that forsake the law praise the wicked, Pro 28:4. 4. They were so false as to betray Nehemiah's counsels to him; they uttered Nehemiah's words to him, perverting them, no doubt, and putting false constructions upon them, which furnished Tobiah with matter for letters to put him in fear and so drive him from his work and discourage him in it. Thus were all their thoughts against him for evil, yet God thought upon him for good.