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Sermon Bible Commentary

Nehemiah 2



Verse 4

Nehemiah 2:4

God gives us every day, and all day long, something to choose about, and the reason is because He wants to try us, to see whether we do right, to exercise our minds and see whether we act according to the Bible.

I. The first rule about choosing is not to choose at all if you can help it, but to let God choose for you, because nine times out of ten when boys and girls or men and women choose for themselves they choose badly.

II. If you must choose, if it is your duty to choose, always before you choose lift up a prayer to God to help you and guide you as to what you shall choose. Remember what Nehemiah did. When the king asked him what he wanted, he lifted up a prayer to God that He would not allow him to ask foolishly, but that He would enable him to make a wise choice.

III. When going to choose, always think of other people as well as of yourselves, and try to choose unselfishly.

IV. Whenever you are choosing, choose that which will give you trouble at first, or, to put it in Bible language, choose the Cross.

V. Whenever you choose, choose for your soul. Choose for eternity. Choose the Lord Jesus Christ. After alt, it is not we who choose Christ; it is Christ who chooses us. We do choose Him; but when we see all the secrets revealed in heaven, we shall see that it is as our blessed Lord saith (John 15:16): "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit."

J. Vaughan, Sermons to Children, 1875, p. 149.

References: Nehemiah 2:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1390; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 220; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 254; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 138, and vol. ix., p. 94. Nehemiah 2:12-16.—Ibid., p. 269.

Verse 17

Nehemiah 2:17

Jerusalem for us is the Church. "The wall of Jerusalem is thrown down," the fugitives said to Nehemiah. Is not this the message which many voices bring us today from all quarters of Christendom? Let us see what the example of Nehemiah ought to teach us.

I. The sorrow of Nehemiah is the first thing which strikes us in his history. Jerusalem is desolate; that is sufficient cause for his heart having no rest. Do you understand such sorrow as Nehemiah's? Do you know what it is to groan as he did over the desolation of Jerusalem? The lightness of our sorrows may be measured by the feebleness of our works, for those only can act powerfully upon this world who carry everywhere its misery and its sorrows in their soul. Nehemiah suffers, but in self-humiliation. Jerusalem lies waste through the fault of the elders, who ought to have saved it; and he, a stranger to their unfaithfulness, accuses himself of it. "Lord," says he, "have mercy on us, for we have sinned."

II. But Nehemiah does more than lament. He acts, and to act he knows how to sacrifice all. To the peace which he enjoys he prefers the dangers of a struggle without a truce, to the brilliant future which awaits him the reproach of his people. The spirit of sacrifice—this is the second feature which he gives us as an example; moreover, it is that which always distinguishes those who wish to serve God below. These alone are able and worthy to raise the walls of Jerusalem, who, as Nehemiah, will know how to sacrifice all for God.

III. Notice the greatness of Nehemiah's faith. This greatness must be measured first by the paucity of his resources, and then by the vast obstacles which he encounters. In face of mockers, in face of shrewd men, in face of politicians, listen to his language: "The God of heaven, He will prosper us, but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem." Like Nehemiah, we have beheld the ruins which our epoch has piled up, but their very magnitude fills us with hope. Come, and let us raise again the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.

E. Bersier, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 1.

I. Consider the fact of declension, decadence, degeneration, from a Divine type. Of this we have two instances: in Israel and in the Church. (1) Under the old dispensation, Israel in the Divine intention signified those in whom a great idea was realised. Proofs that this ideal unity was never lost sight of may be seen (a) in the life of Elijah; (b) in the life of St. Paul. (2) A parallel instance of declension from a Divine type we have in the Church. Decadence—partial and temporary decadence, at all events—seems to be a condition of the Church's existence here below. Earth is strewn with the shattered wrecks of heaven's ideals. It is well. The disappointments of history teach us to look forward and upward.

II. In the restoration wrought by Nehemiah we have (1) a type of all God's true repairers; (2) lessons for all such repairs. Notice (a) the builders worked under arms; (b) they worked under the harmonious co-operation of priesthood and laity, we might almost say, in modern language, of Church and State.

III. Notice, lastly, the triumph. There had been discouragement from without and within. When the Church's builders are up and doing, Sanballat will not be silent. Tobiah's bitter epigram will not be wanting. But after all discouragement, the day of triumph dawns upon these waiting hearts. The strength of the Lord had been their joy; the joy of the Lord became their strength. Is it not even so with the Church? God's people have a mind to work. The Church shall be repaired. One day God's summer light shall strike upon the topmost row. Christ, the Divine Healer, will own the work of restoration by miracles of love at the sheep-gate and the pool of Siloam. The theology of the Incarnation will prove itself by enabling men to understand what is otherwise a tangled mass of contradictions—the character and life of Jesus.

Bishop Alexander, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 241.

References: Nehemiah 2:17.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., Appendix, No. 11:2:18.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 173; A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 54; A. J. Griffith, Ibid., vol. xvi., p. 137. 2—Parker, Fountain, June 28th, 1877. Nehemiah 3:8.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 235. Nehemiah 3:12.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 346. Nehemiah 3:15.—M. G. Pearse, Sermons to Children, p. 24; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 790; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 103.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Nehemiah 2:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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