Vv 1-3: Note the progression: (1) self-denial; (2) recognition
of unworthiness; (3) great humility; (4) separation; (5) remorse; (6)
repentance; (7) study and reflection; and finally -- in v 38 -- (8)
THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF THE SAME MONTH: Two days after
the solemn assembly (Neh 8:18) the people were still mourning over their sins --
this was a genuine spiritual revival!
"These first 3 vv represent what we would see as an extreme
reaction, and yet it was clearly what was needed. Do we have a great enough
awareness of the enormity of our sins? If we do, then we can also appreciate
more fully the grace and mercy of God. How can we love God if we are not aware
of the greatness of his salvation?" (PC).
CONFESSION: After hearing Lev 26:40-42.
WITH LOUD VOICES: In order to be heard by the whole
assembly, but also indicative of great fervor.
Vv 5-38: The prayer of praise. The prayer is intended to
instruct the readers. It gives us a survey of the history of Israel with
emphasis on certain events in the life of the Covenant People. This approach is
comparable to that of Psa 78; 105; 106; 135; 136. It is especially helpful to
read this prayer through the eyes of the returned exiles. They had experienced
many of the same things their forefathers had. We too can identify with their
appreciation of God's grace since we have seen these things in God's dealings
STAND UP: They had been prostrating themselves because
of their sins.
BLESSED BE YOUR GLORIOUS NAME...: Add before this, "And
Ezra said" (RSV; from LXX).
Vv 7,8: Abraham: divine selection and kindness.
YOU FOUND HIS HEART FAITHFUL: Examples of faithfulness
in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David (1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki
12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah (Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the
treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4); Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col
1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9); Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb
3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5); Antipas (Rev 2:13).
Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.
TO GIVE TO HIS DESCENDANTS THE LAND...: Promise to the
natural descendants of Abraham: Gen 15:13-16. NOT the fulfillment of the promise
to Abraham individually (cp Heb 11:13; Gal 3:17,18; Acts 7:5).
Vv 9-11: Deliverance from Egypt: divine mercy.
V 12: Wilderness guidance: divine care: cp Psa 78:52;
Vv 13,14: Theophanies: divine instruction.
V 15: Food and water: divine provision.
Vv 16-31: Forgiveness and blessing, despite perversity and
AS NUMEROUS AS THE STARS IN THE SKY: Sym Israel: Gen
26:4; Exo 32:13; Deu 1:10; 10:22; 28:62.
BUT THEY WERE DISOBEDIENT AND REBELLED AGAINST YOU: Cp
Pro 30:8,9: "Give me [not] riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I
may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' "
STIFF-NECKED: Suggests a beast of burden who draws back
and refuses to accept yoke, or go forth with burden.
Vv 32-37: Ezra's plea to God. The returned Jews then called on
God to remember their sufferings in exile (v 32). They acknowledged that the
exile was a consequence of their disobedience to God's Word (vv 33,34). Even in
exile most of the Israelites had not returned to God (v 35). Consequently much
of the Jewish nation was still in bondage to its Persian rulers (vv 36.37).
Nonetheless now they, the faithful remnant of returnees, were ready to make a
formal commitment to obey Yahweh again (v 38).
AWESOME: Heb "yare" -- to be feared or reverenced.
"Terrible" in KJV.
KINGS OF ASSYRIA: Menachem and Pekah suffered at the
hands of Pul and Tiglathpileser; Hoshea became vassal to Shalmaneser: 2Ki 15.
WE ARE MAKING A BINDING COVENANT: Lit, "cutting a
covenant" (cp Gen 15:9,10; Jer 34:19). The covenant is explained and outlined in
detail in Neh 10.