Read: Nehemiah 4:1-10

Muhammad Ali, the great boxing legend, used several tactics to defeat his opponents. One was taunting. In his match with George Foreman in 1974, Ali taunted Foreman, “Hit harder! Show me something, George. That don’t hurt. I thought you were supposed to be bad.” Furiously, Foreman punched furiously, wasting his energy and weakening his confidence. Ali ultimately won the match.

In fact, this is an old tactic. Tobiah referred to Nehemiah’s efforts at rebuilding the broken wall of Jerusalem as nothing more than a fox’s playground (Neh. 4:3). The intention of Tobiah was to weaken the workers with poisonous words of discouragement. Despite the taunting the Israelites faced from multiple sources when rebuilding the walls and the city of Jerusalem, they had confidence and courage in the Lord. They had returned to Jerusalem just as God had promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 29:10). In 1 Sam. 17:41-44, Goliath tried to discourage David by despising the young boy’s simple weapons of sling and stones. A discouraging remark can be a deadly weapon. Nehemiah refused to surrender to Tobiah’s discouraging statements, just as David rejected Goliath’s despising remarks. Both David and Nehemiah were able to achieve the victory.

Teasing, provoking, taunting can come from anybody, including those who are close to us. If we respond to them negatively, it will only sap our energy. But God encourages us through His promises: He will never forsake us (Ps. 9:10; Heb. 13:5), and He invites us to rely on His help (Heb. 4:16). He will strengthen us to accomplish what He has called us to do.

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