“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews…”
Last time we looked in on our Refiner as He uses fire to prove our faith sure. Not to puff us up but to help us bow down.
Today we move on in our narrative, remembering the Samaritan Governor, Sanballat. We’ve already seen him, along with Tobiah the Ammonite official, disturbed when Nehemiah came to seek the beauty of Jerusalem. We have also watched these two nearby leaders mock Nehemiah and his crew as they prepared to rebuild. So it is not a shock to see Sanballat in our narrative again once he hears the men have begun to work.
The first word to describe Sanballlat upon hearing the news is angry – kaas – provoked to anger, indignant, vexed. Something I appreciate about our God is how He doesn’t seem interested in having me learn about a section of the Word without showing me a section of the Word. Anger is something with which I deeply struggle, and I have felt provoked to it, indignant and vexed this very week. Fortunately, the emotion itself is not unlike our glorious God. I’m grateful He doesn’t look upon injustice or violence or sin with a look of calm indifference. It matters deeply to Him – both the victim of injustice and the perpetrator running from their purpose.
However, pettiness will never describe our Yahweh. And it’s the political situation in which Sanballat is invested that is provoking him to anger. He will lose whatever influence he has over Jerusalem with this new governor and a more fortified identity and city for the Jews. So he is provoked to anger.
The second word in our verse to describe Sanballat is incensed, in Hebrew charah – kindled with anger, to blaze up. When do you blaze up? What really triggers your anger and grows it? Speaking of grows, the Hebrew for greatly is rabah – to mulitply, bring in abundance.
As He grows us, what will blaze up our anger will more reflect His heart. His Spirit in us will be incensed at what is obviously not part of His beautiful design for Creation: abandoned children, lonely widows, addiction, war, suffering, supremacy. We are not Him and cannot feel it all in perfect righteousness. But He will be faithful to grow us more and more into His image.
The broken side of this being incensed comes out of our mouths. As James says, the tongue is set on fire by hell. What can blaze me up and multiply throughout my life are things like gossip, superiority, shame and blame. I can take on any of those things or fall under the weight of them. And trust me, it can multiply throughout my life. Yours too? Let’s learn to stop it in His strength before we get to the final verb for Sanballat.
All of this comes full circle for our Samaritan Governor and he once again mocks or ridicules the rebuilders. Ridicule is laag – to scoff, mock, as if imitating a foreigner: to speak unintelligibly/stammer. Sometimes when we don’t know what to do with our hurt and fear and anger, the result is mocking whoever seems to be provoking it. It happens in a split second for me and in those moments I can’t wait for glory to be done with it forever.
How about you? Does your anger or hurt ever spill into ridicule toward another? Or, God help us, look like mocking those who speak a different language in order to feel superior? Let’s have a healthy fear of God when He reminds us such words will multiply throughout our lives. And let’s praise Him that Jesus took it all: all that mockery and ridicule for sinners like us. We don’t have to live in shame or superiority. We can simply praise the One Who took it on the chin for us and ask Him to make us more like Him.
Because He is our only Salvation – day by day.