The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Nehemiah

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Divine Design 16. Nehemiah
Not less distinct is God's design in the book of Nehemiah. But it is their civil policy, not their religious position. Both must be according to God, but in the lowly estate that became captives returned from Babylon. Pretension in either would have dishonored God; but obedience is ever imperative: no ruin absolves from its obligation. In this book we have his own touching account of the grief that filled him even at the Persian court in Artaxerxes L.'s twentieth year, when he heard of the great affliction and reproach under which the remnant lay, the wall even still broken down, and the gates burnt with fire. So he gave himself to mourning and prayer to the God of heaven. Still He was God and would hear supplication (1). The great king perceived his sadness, though a forbidden thing there; and his cup-bearer, not without fresh prayer, made his request to build the city of his fathers' sepulchers, which was granted, to the vexation of new adversaries. But Nehemiah saw all with his own eyes, though by night; and only then laid his purpose to build the wall before the chief men, who were cheered and strengthened accordingly, whatever the scorn and despite of their neighbors (2).
Great things were far from Nehemiah, but jealousy for God and persevering love for Israel in their utter weakness and shame. Chap. 3 is the deeply interesting account of their labors in detail from the high priest down to the least. If nobles failed here, even a ruler's daughter repaired elsewhere. Great was the anger and indignation of Sanballat; bitter the contempt of Tobiah; but Nehemiah prayed and set a watch, and they built with swords girt on, and the trumpeter by the governor (4). What mortification and anger, when he heard of Jews exacting usury of their brethren, and even enslaving them as the issue! So he put them to shame and redressed the wrong; as his own unselfishness rebuked them (5.). Then we see him in chap. 6 escaping the snare, as before the violence, of the foe; and the wall is finished, in spite of treachery of priests, prophets, and nobles. The genealogy of the returned captives under Zerubbabel here appears in chap. 7 in connection with his repeopling Jerusalem and building houses in it.
Next in chap. 8 we are told, as the seventh month was come, all the people gathered, and Ezra read the book of the law; and when the people wept, they were exhorted to good cheer; for a day holy to Jehovah does not call for gloom. But obedience is of all moment always; and so they judged all previous departure, as they had not done since Joshua's day. Chap. 9 shows them fasting shortly after, as becomes them, with a true repentance: so in Ezra's case before. Chap. 10 gives the list of those who sealed the covenant of separation from strangers and of confession of sins from the Tirshatha downwards; as in chap. 11 we have those who devoted themselves to reside in Jerusalem and its suburbs. Again, chap. 12 furnishes the names of the priests and the Levites that had first returned, and those descended till subsequent days.
The dedication of the wall brings us down to the time when Nehemiah came again from the Persian court in the two and thirtieth year of the king (13:6). Then a fresh effort was made to separate Israel from the strange multitude, the house of God was purged from impurity, the sabbath vindicated, and mixed marriages put an end to. For even the high priest's son was guilty and repulsed by Nehemiah.