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A FAITHFUL MAN
‘He was a faithful man.’
At last the wall was completed by the setting up of the doors, and the placing in order of porters, singers, and Levites. In the first few verses of this chapter we have an account of the arrangements made for the safety of the city.
I. They are characterised by statesmanlike caution.—Through all the country round about there were enemies, and the position of the partially restored city, therefore, was one of perpetual peril. Nehemiah was conscious of this, and made the most careful provision as to the hour for the opening and closing of the city gates, and as to the arrangement of the watchers. No greater mistake can ever be made in connection with work for God in difficult places than that of lacking caution. Carelessness is never a sign of courage. True bravery perpetually prepares for the possibility of attack. The man who has built, sword in hand, to completion, does not imagine with the swinging of doors that the time for relaxing watchfulness has come.
II. How great a tribute it is to a man’s character to be reckoned faithful—one who can be trusted, on whom responsibility can be imposed! There is a great difference between faith and faithfulness: in the first, we have confidence in God keeping His covenant with us; in the second, God has confidence in our keeping tryst with Him. In the one case, we reckon upon God; in the second, God reckons upon us. Can God trust you with work among young and old, with money, with pain and suffering, with sentry-duty, or the quiet, obscure work of the trench? Perhaps your isolation from active and useful service arises from your not being faithful in a very little. You cannot, therefore, be put into positions where great faithfulness is required. What an epitaph to be written by the Spirit of God on this man’s tomb, ‘A faithful man, and one that feared God above many’!
(1) ‘Conscience plays a very important part in the affairs of men. We must shun an argument with our conscience as we would shun an argument with our judge. Bear in mind the old story of Dr. Adam Clarke, the famous commentator. When a lad he was apprenticed to a draper. One morning when busy measuring some cloth his principal passed by, and observing Clarke, said, “Stretch the cloth, my boy! stretch the cloth!” “No, sir!” replied the noble youth. “ I have a conscience that won’t stretch.” In a word, Byron’s question on conscience is as forceful a one as I know, “What exile from himself can flee?” ’
(2) ‘Nehemiah had built the wall, and wanted some one to take charge of divers civic matters. He appointed a man to that office, and this was the reason of Hanani’s appointment: “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” Many persons can take charge of a wall after it is built who never could have built it.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent