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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Nehemiah 3

 

 

Verses 1-32

THE BUILDING WELL BEGUN

(vv. 1-32)

Eliashib the high priest is mentioned first in the building, not because he was the most devoted builder, but because of his position, for chapter 13:4 tells us that he had been allied with Tobiah, and also (ch. 13:28) that one of his sons was married to the daughter of Sanballat. Besides this, though Eliashib and his brethren built the sheepgate, it was a different man, Meremoth, who repaired the wall "from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib" (v. 21). What a lesson is seen here! A man may be concerned to repair in measure the public character of Christianity, but have little concern for the wall of separation in his family life!

More than this, though it is said they "built the sheep gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors" (v. 1), yet no mention is made of including "its bolts and bars", as is the case with others who built gates (vv. 3,6,13,14,15). Does this not indicate that Eliashib was not so careful about full separation from the world, but would allow some measure of laxity in this matter? When a leader is like this, how sadly this can affect the entire testimony of God! Nevertheless, scripture credits Eliashib with what good he actually did.

All those who labored in this good work are listed by name, just as in Romans l6 the Lord takes pleasure in recording the faith and labor of many individuals, such as Priscilla and Aquila who risked their own necks for Paul's life (vv. 3-4), "Mary, who labored much" (v. 6), "Persis who labored much in the Lord" (v. 12). Thus, some stood out specially, others only recorded, but all recognized. The judgment seat of Christ will reveal the work of all believers, and some will be rewarded more than others.

In verse 5 the Tekoites are mentioned as making repairs, but "their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of the Lord." Did they consider such work to be beneath their dignity? In contrast to this, one of the goldsmiths and one of the perfumers did this manual labor to which they were not accustomed. How good it is that the Lord takes full account of all these things! Verse 12 tells us that not only Shallum, a leader of the half district of Jerusalem, worked in repairing, but also his daughters. Does this not remind us of Paul's words concerning "the women who labored with me in the Gospel" (Philippians 4:3)? The word of God too takes note of Baruch who "carefully" repaired another section. No doubt some were not as careful as others in the work, but the Lord values true diligence in whatever He give us to do, as is surely indicated in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." If the Lord Jesus is the Object in whatever work we are called upon to do, would we think of being anything less than wholehearted?

A number of the inhabitants of Jerusalem are said to have made repairs in front of their own houses (vv. 23,28,29,30). This is a reminder of 1 Timothy 3:5, "For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God? It is true, on the other hand, that some Christians are concerned only for their personal and their family responsibilities, and ignore the proper welfare of the church of God. We have noticed, in contrast to this, that Eliashib repaired the sheep gate, but did not make repairs at his own house. How important it is for us to have a well balanced concern for the spiritual blessing of our own families and at the same time for the true prospering of the assembly of God!

In verse 31 we read again of a goldsmith working, and in verse 32 of both goldsmiths and merchants taking part in the work. Often it is the poor who engage in the work of the Lord (James 2:5), so that it is the more refreshing when those of means are willing to labor for the Lord.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/nehemiah-3.html. 1897-1910.

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Saturday, January 25th, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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