Trust in God and keep your power dry – Oliver Cromwell
The phrase has been used by the likes of Bill Clinton; Margaret Mead wrote a book titled (1942) And keep your powder dry: an anthropologists looks at America. It was repeated in World War II with the saying and song “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”.
And I’m not talking about talcum powder. Cromwell at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 reportedly told his Roundhead troops in that opening fight of the English civil war “Put your trust in God, my boys, but mind to keep your powder dry.” (supporters of the Parliament of England)
The phrase is combination of what Bergen Evans called “piety & practicality”
When faced with an implicit and ominous threat, Nehemiah would make a similar statement in chapter 4 (outline by Throntveit, M. A.)
- Opposition: “When X heard …” (4:1)
- Ridicule: “Jews” “rubbish” (4:2–3)
- Prayer: “our God” (4:4–5)
- Wall half completed: “joined together” (qšr) (4:6)
- Opposition: “plotted together” (qšr) (4:7–8)
- Prayer: “our God” (4:9)
- Effect of Ridicule upon Jews: “rubbish” “Jews” (4:10–14)
- Opposition: “When X heard …” (4:15) [Throntveit, M. A.]
Need to understand the extent of the threat:
Opposition: “When Sanballat heard …” (4:1)
Nehemiah 4:1 (ESV) 1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.
Sanballat and his friends have already been a clear and present danger. Nehemiah 2:10 (ESV) 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.
Sanballat himself is desperately angry (v. 1).
Not only that, the circle of enemies is expanding. The Ashdodites, occupying former Philistine territory on Judah’s western flank, have now joined the unholy alliance (v. 7).
Nehemiah 4:7 (ESV) 7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward…, they were very angry.
the Ammonites (on the east). With Sanballat the Samaritans holding north and Geshem and the Arabs threatening from the south, the conspiracy was encircling, and Judah’s situation perilous.
“When God’s people attempt to do God’s work in God’s way, there will always be opposition.” MacArthur
So in true Nehemiah form he appeals to God in prayer…