Nehemiah 4: 8-9, 14-23 (NIV)
8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
14 … I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armour. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so that they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
I cannot read Nehemiah without the song, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” coming to mind. Nehemiah would link prayer and action together: “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king” (2: 4b-5). That link is evident in 8: 9, above: “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard …”, and again in verse 14: “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers …”
So much of this chapter rings true for today’s soldier. The personal security drills are identical. For example, the soldier on a work party, such as to collect water for his/her section, will go nowhere without his/her weapon (verse 23). Those on operations who are required to deliver materiel do their work with a weapon at the ready (verses 17, 18). Troops are expected to provide security for their position at night as well as undertaking the work of a soldier by day (verse 22b). While a part of the group moves into position, the remainder are ready to provide covering fire (verse 16).
Are we confident that, in today’s battles, “our God will fight for us” (verse 20)? To me it depends on whether we are undertaking the Lord’s work according to his priorities or instead are pursuing our own goals. Where the work is the Lord’s, he will use his labourers according to his battle plan. We can be assured his purposes will be achieved. Remember, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Overcoming human opposition is less important than remaining true to our Lord.