|So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. It took fifty-two days. When our enemies heard about this, all of the nations around us were afraid and their confidence was greatly shaken. They knew that this work was completed with the help of our God.|
In addition, in those days the officials of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters were coming to them. Many in Judah were bound to him by solemn pledge because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, Arah’s son, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam, Berechiah’s son.
They also kept talking about his good deeds in my presence and then reported back to him what I said. In addition, Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
Scholars agree that, most likely, the wall was completed in a mere fifty-two days. It took the right guy with the right message to get beyond wishing the walls would be fixed and take action. It is also notable that Nehemiah prayed for nearly four months (the difference in time between Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1) before starting the work. It took twice as long for him to determine that it was God’s will than to accomplish the goal. Once the work was accomplished, however, it became clear to everyone that the completion of the wall was, in fact, God’s will.
In the second paragraph, the Jews praise Tobiah, the man who opposed Nehemiah’s work earlier in the story and who Nehemiah had called out in 4:4. Undoubtedly, the Jews saw Nehemiah as the bad guy-- he wasn’t acknowledging all the alleged good deeds of Tobiah-- but what they could not see was how Tobiah sought his own standing in the community rather than the goodwill of God’s people. Nehemiah wisely saw past Tobiah’s actions and knew his motives. He understood his role as the protector of God’s people and turned first to God rather than listening to stories of the easily persuaded Jews.
Nehemiah consistently turns to God before he takes any action or reacts to anything around him.
In your life, what would it look like to spend more time “tuning into God” before taking action?