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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Nehemiah 12

Verse 1

THE DEDICATION OF THE WALLS

Nehemiah 12

In the early part of this chapter (1-26) the Lord distinguishes by name those who were directly occupied in the service of the house of God. It was no small thing in God's sight, in a day of weakness, to maintain the service of the house, and, in the midst of the sorrows of His people, to lead the praise and thanksgiving to Himself. And God has marked His approval by recording the names of the chief priests, the Levites, those who led "the thanksgiving," who kept "the watches," and the porters who kept "the ward at the storehouses of the gates" (8, 9, 24, 25, N. Tr.).

All is now prepared for the dedication of the walls. The record of the completion of the wall is given in Chapter 6. But between the completion and the dedication of the wall there is the account of a series of incidents, which, taken as a whole, present the dedication of all the people. The authority of the word is recovered; in the light of the word the people judge themselves, confessing their sins, and dedicate themselves by covenant to the service of God. Then a certain number devote themselves to the interests of the city and the service of the house.

This dedication of the people, as we may call it, makes way for the dedication of the walls. In view of this dedication the Levites are sought out and brought to Jerusalem; the singers gather themselves together; and the priests and the Levites purify themselves, the people, the gates and the walls (27-30).

Following upon this purification two companies are formed to make the circuit of the walls. These two choirs having gone in procession round the walls, meet in the house of God (40). There they sang aloud, and offered great sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had made them to rejoice with great joy. The women too and the children, who had been associated with the men in the confession of sin, are now associated with them in the songs of praise (41-43).

The dedication of the walls sets forth the appreciation of what God has wrought. The procession round the walls would give the people a comprehensive view of the extent of the city. According to the Psalmist they "walk about Zion, and go round about her"; they "tell the towers thereof"; they "mark ... well the bulwarks" and "consider her palaces." The result is, according to the same Psalm, they turn to the Lord in praise saying "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion, in the sides of the north, the city of the great King." Then, as these two choirs meet in the house of God, they can surely take up the words of this Psalm, "We have thought of thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple" ( Ps. 48 ).

Is it not manifest that the dedication of the walls - with the procession round the walls and the meeting of thanksgiving in the house of God - has its answer to-day in the appreciation of the preciousness of the Assembly in the sight of Christ when viewed in all its extent according to the counsels of God? And this appreciation of the Assembly according to the counsels of God calls forth praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. The true appreciation of the Assembly will never lead to the self-satisfaction or exaltation of the Assembly, but turns the Assembly to the One to whom the Assembly belongs, and for whose pleasure and glory the Assembly has been brought into being. If we appreciate the Assembly as viewed according to the counsels of God, it will lead us to say, "Unto Him be glory in the Assembly by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." ( Eph_3:21 ).

Furthermore we learn from this fine scene inn Nehemiah's day, that when the Lord gets His portion from His people, the servants of the Lord - those who devote themselves to the service of the Lord, will also get theirs. So we read, "All Israel . . . gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion" (44-47). If the servants of the Lord are neglected, it is a sure sign that the people of God have but a feeble apprehension of the Assembly and its preciousness to Christ. The more we value the Assembly as seen by Christ, the more we shall esteem it a privilege to fulfil our responsibilities and our privileges in ministering in temporal things to the servants of the Lord who minister to us in spiritual things.

Compared with the number of those who returned from the captivity only a few appeared to have taken part in the dedication of the walls. But those who compassed the walls would have for themselves an enlarged view of the city, and an increased joy in the Lord, and others, though taking no part in the dedication, would in a measure benefit, for we read, "the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off" (43). In our days there are those who accept in terms the truth of the Assembly and yet never seem to enter into the truth according to God. They have not walked about Zion, and gone round about her, and marked her bulwarks and considered her palaces. Hence they have known but little what it is to enter into the sanctuary of God and sing His praises. Nevertheless they will benefit by those who do. In the house of Bethany, in the days of our Lord, none had such appreciation of the Lord as Mary, who anointed the feet of the Lord, but others benefited by her act, for "the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Nehemiah 12". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/nehemiah-12.html. 1832.