A new difficulty now presented itself. This time it arose among the people themselves. The rich among them exacted usury from their poorer brethren to such an extent as to oppress and impoverish them.
Perhaps nowhere in the story does the nobility of Nehemiah's character more clearly manifest itself than here. There is a fine touch in his declaration, "I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles." His consultation with himself resulted in his determination to set an example of self-denial in that he took no usury, or even the things which were his right as the appointed governor of the people. Such an example produced immediate results in that all the nobles did the same. Thus the people were relieved, and were filled with joy; and consequently went forward with their work with new enthusiasm.
From the position of personal rectitude a man is always strong to deal effectively with wrong in others. Contention with nobles who are violating principles of justice, which is not preceded by consultation with self, is of no avail. When the life is free from all complicity with evil, it is strong to smite it and overcome it in others.
the Third Week after Epiphany