About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 1
Commentary On The Book Of Nehemiah
commentary is based on the New International Version of the Bible, 1984
edition. Chapter titles in
this commentary correspond with chapter titles in the NIV to make for
verse 1 we see the "citadel of Susa" mentioned. When
verse 2 we see that one of Nehemiah's brothers named Hanani came to
visit him. Most Bible teachers
suggest that Hanani was not a blood brother but a brother Jew. Nehemiah
asked Hanani how things were
going with the Jews who had returned to their home land.
He also asked about the city of
answer to Nehemiah's enquiry comes in verse 3 and is not very pleasant.
His brother told Nehemiah that those who survived the exile,
meaning, those who lived through the Babylonian exile and returned to
the homeland, were "in great trouble and disgrace."
The Jews who made the trip back in 538 B. C. had mingled
themselves with their pagan neighbours and were no longer following
their God. This was the
disgrace spoken of here. This
disgrace was manifested in the temple not being built as was the
original intention. It also
manifested itself in what verse 3 speaks of, and that is the walls of
returned to Jerusalem
in 458 B.C. and he was most interested in the state of the people and
temple. That would be
reasonable since he was a priest. Nehemiah
wasn't a priest. He was an
ordinary man, a butler, and so he was disturbed to hear that that city
walls had never been built and that which was built was in disrepair.
His calling was to fix this problem.
Ezra's calling was
more spiritual in nature, while Nehemiah's calling was more physical or
civic in nature.
3 says that part of the wall was burned by fire.
This means that the enemies of the Jews had set it on fire.
is interesting to see Nehemiah's response to this news.
It was the same as Ezra's. He
wept, mourned and fasted for days. This
tells us something about Nehemiah. He obviously was a man after the
heart of God. It saddened
him to see the things of God in disrepair.
To me, this speaks volumes about this man.
I believe that the closer we are to our Lord, the more we feel
burdened when the things of God are in disrepair.
If we do not have the same sense of anguish, it tells me that we
are too worldly and not in tune with our God.
We need more Nehemiah's and Ezra's in our day, men who know the
heart of God and want to see it implemented in His people.
verse 5 we see Nehemiah's prayer. It
is similar to Ezra's prayer. These
two men have the same thing in mind.
Nehemiah begins by saying "O Lord, God of heavenů"
You can sense the anguish in Nehemiah's words here.
You also see that Nehemiah knows who he is praying too.
He's praying to the God of heaven, and He is Lord, and He is God,
and there is no other.
understands that "God keeps His covenant, but He keeps the covenant
if His people love Him and obey Him.
God's covenant is conditional upon Israel's obedience. To understand
this you should read Duet. 28 through 30.
There are blessings and curses associated with the covenant,
depending on Israel's obedience. Yet in the
end, as Duet. 30 says, God will bring Israel
to repentance, and this we'll see at the end of this age. The covenant
I'm speaking of here the Mosaic Covenant, that is, the Law of Moses.
This covenant is conditional.
God also covenanted with Himself to bless Abraham and his
offspring. This is a
different covenant and is not conditional.
One needs to study the various Old Testament covenants to
properly understand this.
verse 6 we see the prayer of a very repentant man.
We've already noted that Nehemiah began his prayer by stating
that fact that God is a God of covenant.
He then begs for God's attention to his prayer.
Note that I use the word beg.
Nehemiah is not coming to God in arrogance.
He's coming to Him as a sinner who is in need of much help.
Also note that Nehemiah acknowledges both his own sin, the sin of
his father's family, and the sin of
also note that the sins committed here weren't necessarily against one
another, but against God Himself. In
reality, even when we do sin against another human, in the long run, we
sin against God. Yet in this
verse 7 Nehemiah gives the specifics in how they have sinned.
He said that they have not obeyed the Law of Moses as they were
told to do. The Law here can
be related to the covenant the we saw in verse 5.
Nehemiah calls this "wickedness."
We might call it neglect, but not Nehemiah.
verse 8 we see Nehemiah reminding what He told Israel
in Deut. 28. Part of the
curses for not obeying God's law was that they'd be scattered throughout
the world and not have their own place to live.
This is what Nehemiah reminds God of in this verse.
verse 9 Nehemiah continues to remind God of what He said in Deut. 28.
God told Israel
that if they obeyed Him, He would gather them from all parts of the
world and bring them back to their homeland.
This is Nehemiah's prayer. Many
Jews had returned, but there were more that could come, but once they
got their, they needed to do the work to rebuild their community, and in
this case, Nehemiah's concerns were the walls of
verses 10 and 11 Nehemiah is asking God to grant him favour in response
to his prayer. He also
reminds God that He has redeemed Israel
with His great strength and mighty hand.
The word "redeem" always reminds me of the cross where
the greatest redemption took place.
Yet in one real sense of the word,
verse 11 Nehemiah also reminds God that he reveres the name of God, and
based on this fact, he asks God for mercy on all of Israel. This is interesting.
Here is a man that is standing in the gap between sinful