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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 9

Verses 1-38

  1. Intro: 6 Hour Service
    1. It is interesting that 3 of Israel’s great national prayers are in Dan. 9, Ezra 9, Neh.9.
      1. We have here the longest recorded prayer in the bible. vs.5-38.
    2. Just two days after the glad Feast of Tabernacles the people came together in a solemn assembly. This was a solemn public confession of their sin, and it was to be directed by the Levites. When they came together, the book of the Law was again read aloud. Then they confessed their sins.
    3. The prayer in chapter 9 is a spiritual summary of the OT history of the Jews:
      1. The Creation (6); the call of Abraham (7,8); the Exodus (9-14); the nation’s wilderness experiences (15-23); the conquering of the land (24-25); the period of Judges (26-29); the period of prophets up to the captivity (30-31).
      2. Now therefore…in vs.32, brings us up to Ezra/Neh’s day and the need of the nation to repent and confess sin.
    4. What list would you give a Christian friend that is seeking to get their life right with God? [Let’s find that list in the 1st 3 verses]
  2. THE LAITY (1-3)
    1. We find here 5 steps to Intimacy with God:
    2. Self-Humbling (1) – (Fasting, sackcloth, ashes) [cloth made of black goats’ hair, coarse, rough, thick]
    3. Outward demonstration of deep mourning & heaviness of heart.
    4. Separation (2a) –
      1. We must separate ourselves from the world as we draw near to the Lord.
        1. Here, most likely didn’t marry foreigners.
      2. Separation w/o devotion to the Lord becomes Isolation, but devotion w/o separation is hypocrisy.
    5. Sins confessed (2b) Do not expect God to cover what you are not willing to uncover (Duncan Campbell)
      1. “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” Alexander Pope
    6. Scripture read (3a) –
      1. They read for 3 hours about the sins of their fathers, and then confessed for 3 hours doing the same awful deeds.
      2. In the Scriptures He speaks to us. In prayer & praise we speak to Him.
    7. Worship (3b) – True worship encompasses all of these (just named).
      1. Note confessed & worshiped. Never let self-examination extend to the place of ignoring the Lord.
        1. The more you look at yourself, the more discouraged you will become. Slide5f Ultimately focus on His perfections, not your own imperfections.
      2. How would you describe your relationship w/God today? [eyes closed]
        1. Is it warm & steady or is it cold? Is it interrupted & distracted? Is it a surface relationship or a deep relationship? Is it slow? Is it stale? Is it an exciting personal adventure or, is it a mechanical routine?
    8. This then is a fine model for a confessing people to approach God.
      1. We must cultivate closeness w/God w/these spiritual disciplines.
      2. Involvement, yes...but...Intimacy??? [what do you plan to do w/this sermon?]
      3. Do you feel lonely, hallow, shallow...frayed or frustrated on your spiritual journey? I have this against that you, that have left your 1st love.
        1. Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people. Richard Foster
        2. Swindoll gives 4 spiritual disciplines to cultivate this Intimacy with the Almighty:
          Simplicity, which requires reordering our lives.
          Silence, which asks us to
          be still.
          Solitude, which involves
          cultivating serenity.
          Surrender, which beckons us to
          let go
    9. ​​​​​​​This prayer includes 20 sins of Israel…but 74 facts about God.
      1. God is the subject matter here…don’t miss that.
      2. This deals 1st with Who He is. Then, What He does for His people. Then, What His people must do for Him.
  3. THE LEVITES (4-38)
    1. (4,5) They stood, cried out, then got everyone else to their feet. [why stand 4x’s]IV. Slide7 FROM CREATION (6)
      1. ​​​​​​​(6a) They start with God as Creator.
    2. (6b) His Providential Care - you preserve them all
      1. Ps.145:16 You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
    3. (6c) We can’t duplicate the angels worship, but we can imitate their devotion to the Lord.
      1. We have more cause to worship than angels do. [Would you agree? why/why not?]
        1. We are not just servants…but children. We have been forgiven.
    4. In our worship, praise, & prayer, it’s wise to begin w/the Greatness of God.
      1. Why is doing this important in all our praying? Ask?
      2. Did Christ model this for us? Ask? (yes, the beg of the Lord’s Prayer)
      3. Isn’t this proper for any dignitary...how much more the Lord God Himself?
  4. FROM ABRAHAM TO MOSES (7,8)
    1. ​​​​​​​It is good to review the dealings of God with ourselves & w/those who have gone before us.
      1. At times in our walk w/God we have stood on hilltops where the air is clear, seeing in all directions, rejoicing that…life is good. Other times, standing waist deep in mire, w/fog all around us.
        1. What do you do when you’re driving & it is foggy outside? You slow down to the brightness of your headlights.
      2. Like a rest in a piece of music, the silence helps define the significance of the sound. - Slow down & be silent before God.
      3. God will not always scream & shout because life is noisy. He expects us to provide some quietness where His still & small voice can be heard. (Chuck Swindoll; pg. 4 “Intimacy with the Almighty.”)
        1. This section rehearses the history of Israel, but it is also a very accurate summary of our own personal lives in Christ.
    2. The word give (or gave) is used 16x’s in this chapter.
      1. Our God is a Giving God. He gave Israel a Land, a Law, the ministry of the Spirit, food & water, deliverers, & victory over their enemies…to name a few mentioned here.
  5. FROM MOSES TO JOSHUA (9-23)
    1. ​​​​​​​In the last verses (7,8) God was the Founder of a Nation. In (9-12) God, the Deliverer of a Nation. In (13-15) God, the Guide of a Nation. In (16-31) God, Long-Suffering towards a Nation.
    2. Side by side w/the story of God’s care…runs the story of sin/sorrow/suffering.
      1. The Gold & Black strands are closely interwoven. (Meyer)
      2. This Oriental tapestry is put together with many exquisite strands.
        1. It has the gold of happiness, pleasures, good days, w/God’s Faithfulness. And the black of bruising sorrows. [it takes both to make it beautiful]
        2. He will use both in your life to make it beautiful.
    3. (16) What lessons from the past do you need to remember today, to keep you from making foolish choices, w/devastating consequences?
      1. It’s just best for me if I just don’t take even one drink. It’s just best if I stay away from casinos. It’s just best I don’t hang around w/certain old friends for awhile.
    4. (20) Your Good Spirit – The Holy Spirit here in the OT.
      1. He is the good Instructor, the good Comforter, the good Guide, The good Sanctifier, the good Quickener, & the good Intercessor.
        1. Let us always adore Him, revere His person, seek His aid, own His power, speak to His praise, & never grieve Him.
    5. (21) They lacked nothing – Like Ps.23 (same word)
      1. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. (nlt) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (msg) God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
  6. FROM JOSHUA TO JUDGES (24-26)
    1. ​​​​​​​(25) As a nation they didn’t thank God in times of blessing, but they were quick to turn to Him in times of suffering.
      1. Yet before we point at them...what about us?
      2. For every 100 who can stand adversity, there is only 1 who can stand prosperity.
  7. FROM JUDGES TO THE TIME OF EZRA & NEHEMIAH (27-31)
    1. ​​​​​​​They wanted the Father’s wealth but nor the Father’s will.
      1. What a record of Israel’s sins…but what a greater record of God allowing new beginnings & allowing them to bury the past.
    2. (28) What does this prayer tell you about Human stubbornness & pride?
      1. Can you relate to this verse? Is this not our testimony?
    3. (31b) In His Mercy, God didn’t give them what they deserved. And in His Grace, He gave them what they didn’t deserve. (Wiersbe pg. 116)
  8. AT THE TIME OF EZRA & NEHEMIAH (32-38)
    1. ​​​​​​​(32) You enjoy living like the heathen? Then go live with the heathen.
    2. (33) Unapproachable purity reaching out to sinful humanity.
    3. The song ended with the people entering into a covenant w/the Lord.
      1. 1. A Covenant – A formalized relationship w/commitments to loyalty. (John MacArthur; pg.90)
    4. Prayer: God, may you sit upon the throne of our lives arrayed in royal apparel. May we be quick to own our sin. Quick to repent. Quick to return again.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Nehemiah 9". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/nehemiah-9.html. 2017.