We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding.
13After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well,d and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates.
14Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble.
15So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valleye instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.
Nor had I spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration.
17But now I finally said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”
18Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.
This is Matthew Henry’s reply to those verses:
Many a good work has been looked upon with contempt by proud and haughty scorners. Those who disagree in almost every thing, will unite in persecution.
Nehemiah did not answer these fools according to their folly, but looked up to God by prayer.
God’s people have often been a despised people, but he hears all the slights that are put upon them, and it is their comfort that he does so. Nehemiah had reason to think that the hearts of those sinners were desperately hardened, else he would not have prayed that their sins might never be blotted out.
Good work goes on well, when people have a mind to it. The reproaches of enemies should quicken us to our duty, not drive us from it.
But are these people our enemies? Isn’t that rather strong to say? Well the Merriam Webster defines “enemy” as some who is antagonistic to another and seeks to confound an opponent. Ok, I can agree with that. But again, these people aren’t that. They are they just careless, thoughtless and perhaps just too busy to notice but surely not enemies.
Yes but there is something about self-reliance that Nehemiah shows. And that while they are not the enemy there are not also encouraging, but how much vanity, encouragement do you need? If you need a lot then chances are you will get no where because no one has that type of time to give you.
So instead it is up to us to stop say “This is foolishness. I have work to do and you don’t want to see me do it” to the man in the mirror. Not them. Perhaps the more introspective of us can wonder why, are we frightened of success, whether we call it that or its other name fear of failure, but you could lose a lot of time there and there is something to be said of just “doing it” at some point and moving on.
So overall, it is best to Nehemiah’s advice and let discouragement “quicken us to our work” because in the end, discouragement is a choice; just don’t let it be yours.