“So we built the wall, and all the wall was joined together to the half of it. For the people had a heart to work. And it happened, when Sanballat and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that repairing of the walls of Jerusalem had gone up, that the breaks were being closed up, it was very angering to them. And all of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and do harm to it. But we made our prayer to our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them” (Nehemiah 4:6-9).
The “people had a heart to work.” I like that quote. Note that they prayed to God and set a watch against them day and night. They prayed and they set a watch.
“If Jehovah does not build the house, they who build it labor in vain; if Jehovah does not keep the city, the one keeping it stays awake in vain. It is in vain for you to rise early, sit up late, to eat the bread of toils; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:1-2).
This Psalm along with Nehemiah teaches the principle of prayer that acknowledges God’s sovereign control and recognizes that God ordains the end, not apart from the means, but in connection with it. Perhaps Nehemiah and his company sat up late and rose up early. But this was NOT done in order to eat the bread of toils. There is a big difference between hard work done, and hard work done inordinately. When Jesus told believers not to be anxious about their lives (Matthew 6:31), that didn’t mean they should not toil and earn a living and provide for their families.