And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said to all the people…
Observe the profound wisdom of Nehemiah's injunction. The distress of the people was not unnatural; neither was it excessive. It might, however, through indulgence of it, have become excessive and unreal. The surest test by which to distinguish between true penitence and spasmodic emotion is to set a man about the common duties of life. If, amid the distractions of these things, he loses his contrition, it is evident that he never was earnestly contrite; that his was mere excited sensibility and not inward feeling. And even a true emotion requires to be directed into wholesome channels. There was hard work for these Jews to do; the whole task of religious reformation lay before them. Their penitence needed to be husbanded for future motive, not wasted in floods of tears and the ecstasy of a common weeping. It may seem strange to us that a cold external commandment should have been the consideration by which they were bidden to self-restraint. But when people have lost their self-control it is only by an external influence that they can be recovered. If you have to do with hysterical persons, it is not along the line of their feeling you restore them, but by definitely settling yourself against it; not by sympathising with their emotion and words of tenderness, but by the quick, sharp rebuke, "Enough of this; you must not give way." You recover the widowed mother to Composure by bidding her, not indeed forget her dead husband, but remember her living children. We always draw back stricken mourners to hope and usefulness by reminding them of imperative and healing duty.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
WEB: Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people, said to all the people, "This day is holy to Yahweh your God. Don't mourn, nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.