Later I went to see Shemaiah, Delaiah’s son and Mehetabel’s grandson, who was confined to his house, and he said: “Let’s meet together in God’s house, inside the temple itself. Let’s shut the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; they are coming to kill you tonight!”
But I replied, “Should someone like me run away? Who like me would go into the temple to save his life? I won’t go in!” Then I realized that God hadn’t sent him at all but that he spoke this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired to frighten me and to make me sin by acting in this way. Then they could give me a bad name and discredit me.
My God, remember these deeds of Tobiah and Sanballat! Also remember Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to frighten me.
The original text implies that Shemaiah was “shut in” fasting or praying. He presents himself as a man of God trying to save Nehemiah’s life by offering the temple as a place of refuge. Imagine if Nehemiah had run in fear and followed this advice! His people would be disgraced, his government would be declared over, and his enemies would feel free to attack. Without a leader, his people would be open prey. Furthermore, Nehemiah would have sinned because only priests were allowed in the temple at that time. Nehemiah stands firm in his obedience to God and his responsibility as a leader, praying and seeing that Shemaiah was sent to destroy.
When you’re doing God’s will, you are a target. Distraction comes in many forms, even from people who claim to be Christians wanting the best for you. To discern God’s voice from distractions, you need to cultivate an ability to listen to the Holy Spirit. What disciplines around prayer and scripture do you need to put into place to ensure you aren’t distracted or mislead?