Nehemiah 9:4
And the Levites--Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani--stood on the raised platform and cried out in a loud voice to the LORD their God.
A Prayerful Review of Divine Goodness as Manifested in the Facts of Human LifeJ.S. Exell Nehemiah 9:1-29
ConfessionW. Clarkson Nehemiah 9:1-5, 16-18, 26,28-30, 33-35
The Solemn Fast of Assembled IsraelR.A. Redford Nehemiah 9:1-38
AppealW. Clarkson Nehemiah 9:2, 31-33, 36-38
God's ChoiceDean Farrar.Nehemiah 9:4-38
The Certainty of God's PromisesThomas Jones.Nehemiah 9:4-38
The Divine Promise SureHervey.Nehemiah 9:4-38
The Purpose of the Rehearsal of National ShortcomingsW. P. Lockhart.Nehemiah 9:4-38
The SuppliantW. Ritchie.Nehemiah 9:4-38
The Te DeumW. P. Lockhart.Nehemiah 9:4-38

It has been remarked that there is no prayer in this lengthy address to God. And the absence of direct supplication is certainly very noticeable. But it must be remembered that we may make our appeal to God in more ways than by directly asking him for the blessings we desire at his hand. The comparative and almost complete absence of formal petition from this address suggests to us that we may go far towards winning our cause by -

I. PRESENTING THE SOUL BEFORE GOD IN A RECEPTIVE SPIRITUAL STATE. It is only in some spiritual conditions that we can expect to be recipients of his bounty. Not to be in the right state is to lock the door at which we stand. By such an address as this the Jews either showed themselves to be in, or brought themselves into, an acceptable recipient condition. There were -

1. The solemn recognition of God's excellency; of his greatness - "Our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God" (ver. 32); of his goodness - "thy great mercies' sake;"... "thou art a gracious and merciful God" (ver. 31); of his faithfulness - "who keepest covenant and mercy" (ver. 32); of his justice - "thou art just in all that is brought upon us" (ver. 33).

2. Sense of their own ill-desert. "Thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly."

3. Readiness to separate from sin. "The seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers" (ver. 2). "If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us" (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 1:15).

4. Preparedness to pledge themselves to his service. The Jews were prepared to "make a sure covenant, and write it and seal it" (ver. 38). Thus, on this occasion, the children of Israel presented themselves before God, and not only showed, as they began to speak reverently and humbly to him, but gained more as they proceeded, a fitting spiritual condition for receiving his Divine communications. It is not by" loud speaking," nor by "much speaking" (Matthew 6:7), but rather by asking in a right temper and mode, that we make a forcible and prevailing appeal to the Divine Helper; presenting ourselves before him as suppliants in the spirit of

(1) profound reverence,

(2) deep humility,

(3) genuine consecration.

II. REQUEST IN WORDS (vers. 32, 36, 37). "Now therefore, our God,... let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, and on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day" (ver. 32). "Behold," continues this appeal, "we are servants, and the land thou gavest unto our fathers,... we are servants in it: and it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us:... they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress" (vers. 36, 37). This is

(1) a direct appeal to the pitifulness of Jehovah that he would have compassion on them who were slaves in their own land - their persons and their property being at the mercy of a foreign prince; it was also

(2) an indirect appeal to his faithfulness and justice. For had not God chastened them very long and very sore? - he who had promised to forgive them their iniquities when they returned unto him; he who would not make his punishment to be out of proportion to their offence. They desired to "see the beauty of the Lord" (his righteousness, his equity), that they might be "made glad according to the days wherein he had afflicted them, and the years wherein they had seen evil" (Psalm 90:15, 17). In making our appeal to God there are two things which will ever be the substance and burden of our plea: -

(1) the soreness of our necessity: our weakness, our want, our trouble, our humiliation, our darkness and ignorance, our repeated failure, our distance from the goal and the prize;

(2) the greatness of his goodness: his pitifulness, his patience, his considerateness, his promised mercy, his faithfulness. We may come hopefully to his throne because he is "a gracious and merciful God," pleading his "great mercies' sake" (ver. 31). But more than that, we may come "boldly" to the throne of his grace, because he is One that "keeps covenant" (ver. 32) as well as "mercy," because he has pledged his word to us in Christ Jesus, and he will be "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - C.

And cried with a loud voice unto the Lord their God.
The true test of the good received in religious ordinances is their sanctifying effect on the life. Many a tree is gay with blossoms in spring that yields no fruit in autumn; and so many gospel hearers, who appear full of promise in the time of ordinances, show no decided piety in their subsequent conduct.

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PRAYER. It is often easier to act for God than to pray to Him — to work in His vineyard than to wait at His throne. Activity may afford occasion for excitement, and scope for display, and opportunity to attract the admiration of others; while prayer calls to the exercise of faith, to cultivate humility, to live under the eye of God. Spiritual work, indeed, might be expected to draw the servant near to the Master for communion and help. It soon discovers human weakness and want, and dependence on almighty power for strength, for supply, for all blessing. But, instead of proving an incentive to prayer, it is often made a substitute for it; and the labourer feels as if too busy in service to find time for unceasing supplication. And thus the people of Judah here set a high value on prayer. They have laboured to restore the walls and temple of Jerusalem, and success has crowned their efforts. But activity in these sacred undertakings, so far from cooling their devotion, inspires them to growing fervour in prayers and supplications to God. In reference to the circumstances of this prayer, it may be remarked —

1. It was offered immediately after the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month this festival commenced, on the twenty-second it was closed; and "on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled" for this prayer. The time of meeting is proof of the ardour of their devotion. Formal worshippers are soon wearied in spiritual exercises, and ask, "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn; and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?" It is a frame of devotion much to be desired. Protracted meetings like this, for religious exercises, may be expedient only on extraordinary occasions, but habitual love of communion with God is both the strength and joy of a holy heart. It is not one intense momentary influence, flowing from the summer sun, that covers fields with corn and trees with fruit, but the daily glow of his genial beams; so it is not a single hour in the presence of Christ, receiving one full manifestation of Him in the soul, that saves it from the fears of guilt, and beautifies it with His image, but it is an abiding in Him, a "looking unto Jesus," a "coming unto God by Him." "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. Further, this prayer was offered in a season of solemn fasting (ver. 1). In the pilgrimage to the better land, the valley of humiliation lies near the delectable mountains; and the goodly prospects of Emmanuel's land obtained from the one prepare for walking in safety through the rugged paths of the other, while the same life of faith is maintained in both. Moreover, the prayer was offered amid earnest desires after new obedience. "The seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers" (ver. 2). This sincere desire to put away sin, and to obey the Divine Word, is essential to effectual prayer. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."


1. An adoration of the Divine majesty (ver. 6).

2. A review of past mercies, The mercies celebrated are — God's choice of Israel; His deliverance of them from bondage; His guidance of them through the wilderness; and His bestowal on them of spiritual privileges.

3. We notice in the prayer confession of numerous sins (vers. 16-35). The light of Divine mercy here shows the dark cloud of their iniquities. They confess their obstinate disobedience to God (vers. 16-19). They hardened their necks, and hearkened not to the Lord's commandments. They confess their slighting of almighty goodness (vers. 20-26). They confess their refusal of Divine warning (vers. 27-30). They confess they did not glorify God in His gifts (vers. 34, 35).

4. We observe in the prayer a plea for sovereign mercy (vers. 32, 36, 37).


1. The duty of prayer in public distress. The people of Judah were here in public distress, and they offer united prayer to God for His help in their time of need.

2. The blessing of prayer to a community. This prayer for Jerusalem was succeeded by times of prosperity in the holy city, and all it represented.

3. The power of prayer for the revival of the Church.

(W. Ritchie.)

Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou hast made heaven
In this we have perhaps the fullest setting forth of the glorious and manifold character of Jehovah which is to be found in any single passage of Scripture, and in it also is brought out in striking contrast the sinful conduct of His chosen people. The Almighty is here recognised as —

1. The God of creation.

2. The God of the covenant.

3. The God of redemption (vers. 9-11).

4. The Leader of His people.

5. The Lawgiver.

6. The Sustainer of His people.

7. The God of compassion and the hearer of prayer.

(W. P. Lockhart.)



(W. P. Lockhart.)

Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram
My strength during all my life has been precisely this, that I have made no choice. During the last thirty-six years God has twelve times changed my home and fifteen times changed my work. I have scarcely ever done what I myself would have chosen.

(Dean Farrar.)

And hast performed Thy words
All means are in His hands. A father may promise his son that he will make something of him when he grows up, but his business declines, he is made bankrupt. But the great Father will never become bankrupt, never fail; His power is infinite. Many a sea captain has had, during a storm, to tell the passengers, "I have done all I can; there is now nothing but the boat." God has never to tell His people that.

(Thomas Jones.)

Corporations may be disfranchised and charters revoked. Even mountains may be removed, and stars drop from their spheres; but a tenure founded on the Divine promise is inalienably secure, and lasting as eternity itself.


Abram, Amorites, Bani, Bunni, Canaanites, Chenani, Egyptians, Ezra, Girgashite, Girgashites, Hashabniah, Hittites, Hodiah, Hodijah, Israelites, Jebusites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Levites, Og, Perizzites, Pethahiah, Pharaoh, Shebaniah, Sherebiah, Sihon
Assyria, Bashan, Egypt, Gate of Ephraim, Heshbon, Mount Sinai, Red Sea, Ur
Ascent, Bani, Bunni, Chenani, Chena'ni, Cried, Cry, Crying, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Kad'mi-el, Kenani, Levites, Loud, Places, Platform, Shebaniah, Shebani'ah, Sherebiah, Sherebi'ah, Stairs, Stand, Steps, Stood, Voice, Voices
1. A solemn fast, and repentance of the people
4. The Levites make a confession of God's goodness, and their wickedness

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Nehemiah 9:4

     5553   stairways

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength. Neh 9:10

John Newton—Olney Hymns

Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
AND PROOF, THAT THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN SABBATH. BY JOHN BUNYAN. 'The Son of man is lord also of the Sabbath day.' London: Printed for Nath, Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1685. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. All our inquiries into divine commands are required to be made personally, solemnly, prayerful. To 'prove all things,' and 'hold fast' and obey 'that which is good,' is a precept, equally binding upon the clown, as it is upon the philosopher. Satisfied from our observations
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Ten Reasons Demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be Moral.
1. Because all the reasons of this commandment are moral and perpetual; and God has bound us to the obedience of this commandment with more forcible reasons than to any of the rest--First, because he foresaw that irreligious men would either more carelessly neglect, or more boldly break this commandment than any other; secondly, because that in the practice of this commandment the keeping of all the other consists; which makes God so often complain that all his worship is neglected or overthrown,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The "Fraternity" of Pharisees
To realise the state of religious society at the time of our Lord, the fact that the Pharisees were a regular "order," and that there were many such "fraternities," in great measure the outcome of the original Pharisees, must always be kept in view. For the New Testament simply transports us among contemporary scenes and actors, taking the then existent state of things, so to speak, for granted. But the fact referred to explains many seemingly strange circumstances, and casts fresh light upon all.
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh. "Thou Art all Fair, My Love; There is no Spot in Thee. " --Song of Solomon iv. 7.
FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH. HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

The Personality of the Holy Spirit.
Before one can correctly understand the work of the Holy Spirit, he must first of all know the Spirit Himself. A frequent source of error and fanaticism about the work of the Holy Spirit is the attempt to study and understand His work without first of all coming to know Him as a Person. It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, worthy to receive our adoration, our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself,
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

The Early Life of Malachy. Having Been Admitted to Holy Orders He Associates with Malchus
[Sidenote: 1095.] 1. Our Malachy, born in Ireland,[134] of a barbarous people, was brought up there, and there received his education. But from the barbarism of his birth he contracted no taint, any more than the fishes of the sea from their native salt. But how delightful to reflect, that uncultured barbarism should have produced for us so worthy[135] a fellow-citizen with the saints and member of the household of God.[136] He who brings honey out of the rock and oil out of the flinty rock[137]
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Preface to the Commandments
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God,' &c. Exod 20: 1, 2. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments? The preface to the Ten Commandments is, I am the Lord thy God.' The preface to the preface is, God spake all these words, saying,' &c. This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn proclamation. Other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the mouth of the holy prophets (Luke 1: 70), but here God spake in his own person. How are we to understand that, God spake,
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Of Immediate Revelation.
Of Immediate Revelation. [29] Seeing no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him; and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed; who as, by the moving of his own Spirit, he disposed the chaos of this world into that wonderful order in which it was in the beginning, and created man a living soul, to rule and govern it, so by
Robert Barclay—Theses Theologicae and An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

Influences that Gave Rise to the Priestly Laws and Histories
[Sidenote: Influences in the exile that produced written ceremonial laws] The Babylonian exile gave a great opportunity and incentive to the further development of written law. While the temple stood, the ceremonial rites and customs received constant illustration, and were transmitted directly from father to son in the priestly families. Hence, there was little need of writing them down. But when most of the priests were carried captive to Babylonia, as in 597 B.C., and ten years later the temple
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Holy War,
MADE BY SHADDAI UPON DIABOLUS, FOR THE REGAINING OF THE METROPOLIS OF THE WORLD; OR, THE LOSING AND TAKING AGAIN OF THE TOWN OF MANSOUL. THE AUTHOR OF 'THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.' 'I have used similitudes.'--Hosea 12:10. London: Printed for Dorman Newman, at the King's Arms in the Poultry; and Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1682. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. Bunyan's account of the Holy War is indeed an extraordinary book, manifesting a degree of genius, research, and spiritual
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Some of the most complicated problems in Hebrew history as well as in the literary criticism of the Old Testament gather about the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Apart from these books, all that we know of the origin and early history of Judaism is inferential. They are our only historical sources for that period; and if in them we have, as we seem to have, authentic memoirs, fragmentary though they be, written by the two men who, more than any other, gave permanent shape and direction to Judaism, then
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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