Nehemiah was leading a building project in Jerusalem to repair the walls surrounding the city.
The people had a mind to work and the project was coming together splendidly.
However, some people were opposed to the project. Their opposition took the shape of discouraging and scandalous words that they hurled at the Israelites as they served the honor of their city and their God.
One of the opposition named Tobiah criticized the workmanship of the wall-builders even saying that if a fox would go on it, he would break down their stone wall (Neh. 4:3).
Those critical words, those foxes on the wall, can still be heard in any work that God’s people attempt today to honor His name. Critical words can wound a child, can destroy a marriage, and discourage a new believer. Words many times hurt more than being struck with a fist. Words of slander, whispers of gossip and blowouts of anger do so much damage.
Nehemiah’s reaction to those harsh and critical words teach us a great lesson.
The first thing he did was to speak with God. Nehemiah committed these harsh words and the enemies to God and His ultimate justice. God knows the truth and He will vindicate the honor of His children. Another thing that Nehemiah did is he stayed at the task. He did not allow those words to sink into to his soul and discourage him. He kept at his job no matter what foxes were on the wall.
Finally I notice that in the midst of all the threats that were being hurled at the workers that Nehemiah set a watch. In Neh. 4:9 we read: “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
Of course we need to be careful with our words also.
We should never be guilty of using our words to hurt or to hinder. There is no place you can run to that is free from the foxes on the wall. We will hear criticism and deflating words.
May God give us the spiritual stamina to keep our eyes on the Lord and our hands on the work.