How should The LORD's people respond when ridiculed (Nehemiah 4:1–3)? Suffer in silence, counter the ridicule, or turn the other cheek to receive further ridicule?
Nehemiah 4:4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. (ESV)
You might feel uncomfortable reading the above prayer for the first time, which asked for similar harm to be inflicted on the enemy. Others' knee jerk reaction immediately think of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount kingdom lifestyle.
Firstly, we note that in these type of prayers where harm was wished upon the enemies (imprecatory prayers), the person praying was addressing The LORD Himself, and not others. Likely some kind of injustice or mistreatment have been suffered by the one praying, even though the one prayer sought to remain faithful to The LORD in word and deed.
Secondly, the ridicule of the wall building here also directly ridiculed the God who commissioned the project. God's reputation are frequently at stake in these encounters, not merely the one praying.
Thirdly, the one praying in this way to God is not taking revenge, but left the vengeance to God, which syncs with Romans 12:19, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God..."
[4th point to be continued...]