When one of my daughters is afraid of climbing a tree or riding a bike for the first time, my call to her, “Don’t be afraid,” is connected to my desire for her to grow in her trust in me. I say things like “Daddy’s got you” or “I’m right here, I will catch you if you fall.” Or when my young girls (who still think I’m the strongest person in the world) say something about how strong I am, I tell them, “Daddy uses his strength to protect you and keep you safe.” I do this not so my kids will grow up dependent on me, but so as they grow, they will see their trust in me as an earthly example of the trust they can have in God. I want them to know experientially, “God’s got you. God will fight for you.”
Nehemiah faced powerful people. He faced the king who could have him executed on the spot for looking sad in his presence (Nehemiah 2:1–6), and he faced Sanballat and his throng of rapscallions and rogues (Nehemiah 4:7–8). In the throne room with Cyrus, God had already gone ahead. Cyrus was ready to make the decree for Nehemiah to rebuild the temple. When Nehemiah showed up in Jerusalem, the expected resistance reacted.
The people of Judah were discouraged. They were a hair’s breadth away from stopping the rebuilding of the temple project entirely. “In Judah, it was said: The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble. We will never be able to rebuild the wall” (v.10). And as the Jewish people were arriving for the first time to help with the rebuilding project, they realized that there was a real danger of death at the hand of marauders. This is when Nehemiah fights fear with awe. “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord” (v.14).
When fear looms large, it’s helpful to have others around us remind us who our God is. When we remember God in His grandeur, our fear is put into perspective. When we meditate on the perfect love of God, and God’s providential care, we are comforted because we trust the words “God will fight for us!” (v.20). As Jesus says in Matthew, every one of our hairs are numbered (Matthew 10:30). We are not anonymous to God, we are known intimately.
David in Psalm 27 gives us a beautiful picture of worship and drawing near to God for protection. He says, “I have asked one thing from the LORD; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking him in his temple. For he will conceal me in his shelter in the day of adversity” (Psalm 27:4–5).
Our worship of the Lord is not merely gazing on the beauty of the Lord, but one of resting in the security of knowing that God will fight for you. He’s got you. You can trust Him.