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11:14 “valiant warriors”


Where are God’s Mighty Men of Valor today? Look around in the church and you scarcely can find them. Who will take a courageous stand for the Lord? Who will lead their family at great cost and sacrifice? Much less take on leadership in the church of Jesus Christ? Some of you young ladies may have been praying that God would send just one mighty man of valor your way – Where is he? We seem to have a mismatch in the church today of more committed women than committed men. That is a huge problem when God’s program for church leadership requires a plurality of godly elders – hopefully mighty men of valor.

Remember way back when young David was selected by Samuel to be the next king and began serving in Saul’s court, here is how he was initially described: 1 Sam. 16:18 “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.” What an impressive list of credentials – including some attributes we might not expect to see linked. He was both a sensitive, creative musician and a fierce and mighty warrior.

King David had his mighty men of valor who supported God’s kingdom efforts in his day.

2 Sam. 10:7 we see Joab named as the leader of the army, in particular of a special band of mighty men – of choice men (v.9); of men who gained the victory that day by being strong and showing themselves to be courageous on behalf of God’s people and His kingdom objectives – defeating Ammon and the Arameans

2 Sam. 16:6 as we see David fleeing Jerusalem from the threat of his rebellious son Absalom, he is accompanied by his special band of mighty men on his right hand and on his left; Shimei cursed him and threw stones at him while mocking him in a loud voice, but David restrained his mighty men from taking action

2 Sam. 17:8,10 look at this very vivid picture of these mighty men as Hushai warns Absalom of what he is up against in attacking his father – “You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare . . . And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men.” – no picture of a sissy here; not how spiritual leaders are depicted in the movies and on TV; no sense of weakness or timidity

2 Sam. 23:8-39 Honor Roll of David’s mighty men of valor

Today we seem faced with a church that has been stripped of its masculinity. In fact it is the rare church even within evangelical Protestantism that does not seem to at least entertain the issue of allowing women to serve as pastors. Why not? We don’t want strong male leadership. That would be chauvinistic. We don’t want a distinction in roles between the sexes. That would not be fair. We seem to want equal opportunity at all costs. That is the direction of our United States military. Why shouldn’t women fly our fighter jets and drive our tanks and serve on our nuclear subs? So along with the feminizing of male leadership, you have the defeminizing of our privileged ladies. Where will it all stop? Didn’t God create them male and female with significant distinctions in intended roles?

In our passage we are going to study the activities of another group of mighty men of valor – those who served with Nehemiah in the repopulating of the holy city of Jerusalem

Problem: Neh. 7:4 “Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built” Very similar to the problems in starting up a local church and having very few people – not very attractive to others


(Understand verses 1-2 and you will understand the thrust of the passage)


“Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem” We are going to talk about why that was so important in a few minutes – this section is all about the repopulating of the rebuilt city; Who were the first to move in and set up residence? Nehemiah and his top leaders

Very simple concept – Leaders Must Commit to Lead: (7:2 and other leaders mentioned)

– You cannot desire to be a leader and then want to stay in the background;

– You cannot desire to be a leader and then be unwilling to make hard decisions;

– You cannot desire to be a leader and not set the course and vision for others to follow

Nehemiah always received his vision from God in terms of what needed to be done. There was no one else he could look to for instruction. He set the example and his high level leaders followed his example.

Steve Zeisler: The Vow-Makers

Jerusalem had been a bit of a ghost town when the walls were down. Nobody wanted to live there. It was a place that had sad old memories but no present or future. Israelites had settled in the wide region around and had built farms and small communities, but not enough people wanted to live in Jerusalem. So they had to draft citizens to come and live there to bring the city to life again.

Stedman: The great principle to remember in reading the Old Testament is that what happens to Israel on a physical level pictures what is happening to us on the spiritual level. Read with that principle in mind, it becomes a wonderful book of instruction. God, too, is a Builder. The New Testament tells us that he is building a city and one which has inhabitants. It is called The New Jerusalem. It is not like the old one, made of bricks and mortar, but a new city built of spiritual stones — “living stones,” according to the New Testament {1 Pet 2:5}. It is intended to be inhabited by redeemed people. If you draw that parallel you will begin to see some of the teaching of this passage in Nehemiah.

Danger of plurality of elder rule – criticized for not allowing for strong leadership; what if every man backs off and expects the other leaders to fill the gap?

1 Timothy 3:1 “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”

Why don’t people want to become leaders? Many reasons … some valid … but some are excuses

– Don’t want the pressure and responsibility

– Don’t want to make sacrifices and give up their personal comforts; especially the freedom to use their time as they please

Blessing of having a godly wife to support her husband’s role as a leader

– How many men cannot consider leading because the wife doesn’t want any part of it?

We want to direct people’s faith and dependence to the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ; we are just undershepherds.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; follow Him


What was so important about living in Jerusalem?

– Who cares about God’s program for Jerusalem?

– Who cares about the importance of temple worship?

Ron Daniel: Notice that in verse one, Jerusalem is called “the holy city.” This title shows that it has been specifically set apart for God’s use. It is sacred, sanctified, and separate from all other cities. The only other city that receives this name in the Bible is the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of new heaven to the new earth after the original heaven and earth pass away (Rev. 21:1-2).

The Holy City should be inhabited by holy people – that is what is appropriate

Psalm 15 “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”

David Guzik: If such a blessing is reserved for those who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem, what was it about the city that would have made it an honorable choice to live there?

i. To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-order your view of material things; you had to give up land in your previous region, and take up some kind of new business in Jerusalem

ii. To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-arrange your social priorities, surely leaving some friends and family behind in your old village

iii. To live in Jerusalem, you had to have a mind to endure the problems in the city. It had been a ghost town for seventy years, and was now basically a slightly rebuilt, somewhat repopulated ghost town. The city didn’t look all that glorious, and needed work

iv. To live in Jerusalem, you had to live knowing you were a target for the enemy. There were strong walls to protect you, but since Jerusalem was now a notable city with rebuilt walls, the fear was more from whole armies than bands of robbers. The old village was nice, but not in much danger from great armies

v. The Bible tells us there is a city coming down from heaven to earth, when God is done with this earth as we know it, and it calls that city New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). People don’t want to be citizens of the New Jerusalem for the same reasons many didn’t want to be citizens of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem

We have been called to a high calling of holiness because our God is holy.

Christ is our model both of holiness and of fully embracing kingdom priorities – “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God” – Heb. 10:7

The Apostle Paul was able to say follow me as I follow Christ – “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 2:21)

– Priority of the local church today – not just para church organizations; can’t give up

– Priority of church planting and church multiplication – not just personal discipleship

– Priority of involvement in the Great Commission – strategic importance of those areas that are underserved with the gospel message – Romans 10 – How will they hear without a preacher?


Closely tied to the previous point

Ron Daniel: In an agrarian society, you grow your own food to sustain yourself, and to sell or trade for other necessities. But when living in a city, you make your living by offering support systems to other city dwellers, and purchasing food from the agrarian bunch. The city has to be populated enough to require your service and to generate the income necessary to buy the food. The catch-22 of city populations is that if no one is there, no one moves there. If no one moves there, no one is there.

What was so costly and sacrificial about living in Jerusalem?

– significant danger involved; possibly focus of future attack

– much responsibility associated with rebuilding and temple worship, etc.

– Cut off from social ties to family and friends

– Putting yourself in a more vulnerable position in every way

o Open to military attacks

o Not as secure a situation financially

What is involved in moving out of our comfort zone in order to do what God wants us to do?

Look at Paul’s final charge to his young protégé Timothy in 2 Tim – not promising him a life of comfort – wanted him to count the cost – but to then fully enter into the yoke of leadership:

1:8-9 “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling”

2:1ff “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”

Courage and Commitment must always be the resolve of spiritual leaders


“but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem; the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities.”

– Look at the confidence of the people in the sovereignty of God – let’s just roll the dice and trust God to bring the right outcome

Brian Bill: In Nehemiah 11, we come across a situation where the people are faced with a national referendum. But instead of taking a vote, they flip a coin to determine what should be done. Actually, the biblical phrase is that they “cast lots.” In the Old Testament, the casting of lots was like throwing dice and was a way of discovering God’s will. We even see this used in the Book of Acts when the disciples are trying to figure out who should replace Judas in Acts 1:26: “Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”

They didn’t believe in “luck” or “chance.” They actually were so committed to the sovereignty of God that they knew God would direct the outcome of the lots according to His divine providence. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” The votes are cast by the people but the election is determined by the Lord.

Breneman: God can use different means to make known His will. The use of the lot is seen a number of times (Num 26:55-56; 1 Chr 24:5; 25:8). Today Christians do not depend on this means of ascertaining God’s will. Since the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, we can expect God to make his will known through his Word, through inner conviction, and through his guidance of the circumstances. Nevertheless, we should not limit what God can do; he is sovereign and may use unusual means in specific circumstances. The important matter is to trust God for guidance.

Very structured society

– Heads of households – importance of the family unit

– Overseers in various areas and then the second in command

– Religious leaders

– Political leaders

Pethahiah the king’s representative in all matters concerning the people

Adam Clarke: He was the governor appointed by the Persian king over the Jewish nation in those matters in which the civil government interfered with Jewish concerns. He no doubt fixed, levied, and received the tribute.

Ron Daniel: Peth-akh-YAW means, “Freed by Yahweh,” Mesh-ay-zab-ALE means “God delivers,” and ZEH-rakh means, “Rising.” In every matter between the people and the king, they were reminded that God was on their side, a God Who arises to bring deliverance and freedom.

God can bring good out of evil in His sovereign providence – account of Perez in Gen. 38

Silversides: God uses unpromising material for the building of His church


“And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.”

Look at the blessing for their obedience – would that God’s people would always recognize and reward such an example

  • They committed to pray for them; spoke well of them

  • They committed to encourage them financially

  • They committed to respect them very highly for their labor of love

Not everyone can serve on the front lines – think of the military analogy – those who remain at home must make sacrifices as well to provide for the needs of those on the front line and support them in every way possible


(:3-19) Different classes of People in Jerusalem

(introduced in :3-6 and then detailed in :7-19)

Adam Clarke: A good deal of difference will be found between the enumeration here and that in 1 Chronicles 9:2, There, those only who came with Zerubbabel appear to be numbered; here, those, and the persons who came with Ezra and Nehemiah, enter into the account.

Look at the numbers that are cited below

– People that may seem insignificant – not even mentioned here by name; but significant to God; significant to the advance of God’s kingdom

– People are more important than programs – when evaluating a church – don’t go by how many programs they operate; what type of mighty men of valor are actively leading

Heads of the provinces

Israelites (from the northern tribes)

Priests (:10-14) and associated helpers and valiant warriors

Seraiah the leader of the house of God

Other kinsmen who performed the work of the temple, 822

Heads of fathers’ households, 242

Valiant Warriors, 128 noted for strength of body and military courage

And their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of Haggedolim (:14)

Levites (:15-18) – total of 284

Those in charge of the outside work of the house of God (:16)

Mattaniah, leader in beginning the thanksgiving at prayer (:17)

Importance of leading in singing; getting us off on right note

Temple Servants

Also the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brethren who kept watch at the gates, were 172 (:19)

Ron Daniel: These are “the gatekeepers of the entrance of the tent of meeting” (1Chr. 9:21), the guys who kept watch at the gates at each of the temple entrances (1Chr. 9:17-27), stationed in the thresholds as guards on all four sides. Now, these weren’t simply doormen. They… 1Chr. 9:26-29 …were in an office of trust, and were over the chambers and over the treasuries in the house of God. And they spent the night around the house of God, because the watch was committed to them; and they {were} in charge of opening {it} morning by morning. Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out. Some of them also were appointed over the furniture and over all the utensils of the sanctuary and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the frankincense and the spices.

Descendants of Solomon’s Servants

Sons of Judah

Sons of Benjamin (:7-9) 928 strong

Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer

Judah the son of Hassenuah was second in command of the city

Sons of Perez singled out for attention – 468 able men

(:20-21) Living outside Jerusalem

The rest of Israel, of the priests and of the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, each on his own inheritance

But the temple servants were living in Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of the temple servants

Ron Daniel: Ophel = subdivision of Jerusalem, located in a ridge of hills inside Jerusalem just south of the temple area.

(:22-24) Religious and Political Leaders

Uzzi – overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem

Sons of Asaph – who were the singers for the service of the house of God

For there was a commandment from the king concerning them

And a firm regulation for the song leaders day by day

Adam Clarke: Some have thought that they had been Jewish singers employed in the service of the Persian king, to whom he had given a salary, and to whom he wished still to continue the same.

(:25-36) 90% of the people lived in surrounding cities

(:12:1-21) Priests and Levites who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and then were subsequently raised up

Genealogy of Jeshua the high priest given prominence

(:1-7) Family names of the priests at the time of the first return under Zerubbabel

(:8-9) Family names of the Levites at the same time

(:10-11) Line of the high priests

(:12-21) priests in the time of Jehoiakim, the second generation after the return

(:22-23) adds details about the records

(:24-26) more about the Levites and details about the chronology — Breneman

Rom. 12:6-8 every believer must play their important role

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”


Stedman: The passage teaches us that we must not forget past heroes, the men of fame and of glory whom God has used in former days

God sees and keeps good records – He will Reward

When the final Honor Roll is called, the Mighty Men of Valor will step forward to receive their crowns and rewards

Hebrews 6:10: “For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”