“Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate (3:1) . . . The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate (3:3) . . . And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah . . . And next to them Meshullam the son of Berchiah . . . And next to them Zadok the son of Baana . . .” And so the story continues, one section of the wall after another; everybody pitching in and playing a part.
When Sanballat heard how well the work was progressing, “he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews” (4:1). In response, Nehemiah encouraged the people just to keep on keeping on, and he prayed to God for his help. But Nehemiah also put into place practical measures to address the threat: half the people worked, while half the people held weapons, ready to repel any encroachment from their enemies. Really good lessons, here: 1) In accomplishing a task, everyone must work together. 2) When challenges arise, pray to the Lord and put into place measures to address the challenge.
To the work! to the work! we are servants of God,
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.
Toiling on, toiling on,
Toiling on, toiling on:
Let us hope, let us watch,
And labor till the Master comes. -- Fanny Crosby (19th century)