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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 7

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-73


Nehemiah 7

Having repaired the walls and set up the gates, Nehemiah proceeds with the administration of the city. Without walls and gates there would be no city to administer; and without administration walls and gates would be useless. First then we have the appointment of the porters, the singers, and the Levites (verse 1).

The porters had charge of the gates. Their responsibility was to admit only those who possessed the proper qualifications to enter the city, and approach the house and to refuse all others.

The singers gave the Lord His portion. It is only the redeemed that can sing the songs of Zion: hence the necessity for the porters to faithfully carry out their responsibilities, if the Lord is to have His portion. To let in those without divine qualifications is to admit those who cannot sing. Laxity on the part of the porters will mean loss to the singers. Worship is lost where the porters are lax. The loss of worship in any assembly of God's people to-day is generally associated with lax reception.

Lastly we have the Levites. If the singers maintain what is due to the Lord, the Levites care for the needs of the Lord's people. But the Levites must follow the singers. If the Lord does not receive His portion, the people will not receive theirs. The greater the delight in the Lord the greater the interest in the people of the Lord.

As in the days of Nehemiah and the city, so in these days with the Assembly, those who undertake the work of porters, singers, or Levites, must be men who like Hananiah are marked by faithfulness and the fear of God (2). Neither social position, wealth nor the possession of gift would qualify for the care of the Assembly of God. Such work calls for moral qualifications.

There follows in one brief verse important instruction for those who have the charge of the city (3).

1st. The gates were not to be opened until the sun was hot. As long as there was any darkness the door was to be kept shut. And so in the Assembly of God; if any question is raised in reception, the door should be kept shut until all is made clear.

2nd. The porters were not to delegate their responsibilities or simply to give directions. They were to "stand by" while the doors were shut.

3rd. All the inhabitants were responsible to watch over against their own house; in order to secure the safety of the city. As one has truly said "The whole city was necessarily what its several inhabitants made it." Nor is it otherwise in the Assemblies of God's people to-day.

A brief but suggestive note follows indicating the condition of the city. It was "large and great, but the people were few therein." It reminds us that however bright the zeal of the remnant and whatever measure of revival in moral condition had taken place, yet, in outward circumstances, they were marked by great weakness. God had opened a door of escape from captivity, but "few" had availed themselves of God's goodness - God's city is "large and great," though the numbers of God's people that appreciate its greatness be few. And as it was in the day of Nehemiah so it is in our day.

The remainder of the chapter shows how Nehemiah connects the work he had accomplished with that of the remnant who first returned with Zerubbabel some eighty years before. How many that formed that remnant must have passed away in Nehemiah's day, but they are still held in honour, and their varied services recalled. The work they did in their day made it possible for the accomplishment of the work in Nehemiah's day.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/nehemiah-7.html. 1832.
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