Today's passage contains a useful tool to help us in discerning God's will. Nehemiah has almost completed rebuilding the wall. All he needs to do is put the gates in. His enemies keep sending him letters to try and distract him from his work. They finally get desperate enough to release an open letter that "goes viral" and spreads false rumors about Nehemiah and his motivations. (vv. 5-7) Nehemiah is understandably concerned about how this will impact his work and wants advice on how best to proceed, so he seeks the advice of Shemaiah who is known to be a prophet of some kind. Shemaiah's advice to Nehemiah is that he should run quickly and hide in the temple because his enemies are going to try and kill him that night. Nehemiah rejects this advice and knows that it isn't from God. How did he know that this wasn't from the Lord? He knew it was false because it aimed to make him act out of fear of his enemies. (v. 13)
God will not call us to be motivated by the fear of men. Nehemiah knew that, "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe." (Proverbs 29.25) God certainly wants us to be aware of potential dangers and to address them appropriately, but the main drive of our lives is always TRUST in the Lord. Voices, even those with authority, that tempt us to forget our reliance upon God and to shake in our boots before men must be rejected as false prophets. Sam.