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and delight in the ways of God. Observe the divine appointment of the feast of tabernacles reviewed : 6 they found written in the law” a commandment concerning it. This feast of tabernacles was a memorial of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, a representation of our tabernacle state in this world, and a type of the holy joy of the gospel church. The people were themselves to fetch boughs of trees, (they of Jerusalem fetched them from the mount of Olives) and to make booths or arbours of them, in which they were to lodge, as much as the weather would permit, and to make merry during the feast.
CHAPTER IX. '
The tenth day of the seventh month between the feast of trumpets, chap.
viii. 2. and the feast of tabernacles, ver. 14. was appointed to be the day of atonement; we have no reason to think but that it was religi. ously observed, though it is not mentioued : but here we have an ac. count of an occasional fast that was kept a fortnight after that, with reference to the present posture of their affairs, and it was as that, a day of humiliation. There is a time to weep as well as a time to laugh. We have here an account, (1.) How this fast was observed, ver. 1-3. (2.) What were the heads of the prayer that was made to God on that occasion, wherein they made a thankful acknowledg, ment of God's mercies, a penitent confession of sin, and a humble sub. mission to the righteous hand of God in the judgments that were brought upon them, concluding with a solemn resolution of new obe. dience, ver. 4-38.
VER. 5-8. “ Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise."]- In these words we have a display of the all-sufficieney, incomprehensibility, and glorious name of the Lord God, Jehovah Elohim, and of his distinguishing love to Abrahamn, in bringing him forth out of * Ur of the Chaldees;" which shews that those elected by grace are by nature the same as others; for the Chaldees were heathen idolaters, and Abra. ham was one of them; but electing love that had chosen bim, and ordained bim to eternal life, brought him forth from this state; and as the elected by grace were in the loins of Abraham, as his spiritual seed; we have likewise the Lord's kindness towards them, and his promises fulfilled for their good,
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Ver. 31." For thou art a gracious and merciful God."] The faitbfulness of God to his covenant, and the greatness of his love, are the saints' security amidst the rebellion of bis heart, and the tribulations that he meets with : whicb shews the riches of superabounding grace towards him.
We have in this chapter a particular account of the covenant which in the
close of the foregoing chapter was resolved upon. Here is, (1.) The pames of those that set their hands and seals to it, ver. 1-27. (2.) An account of those who siguified their consent and concurrence, ver. 28, 29. (3.) The covenant itself, and the articles of it in general, that they would “keep God's commandments,” ver. 99. in particular, that they would not marry with the heathen, ver. 30. nor profane the sabbath, or be rigorous with their debtors, ver. 31. And that they would carefully pay their church duties, for the maintenance of the teniple: service, which they promise faithfully to adhere to, ver. 32-39.
VER. 39. " And we will not forsake the house of our God.”]-When the backsliding christian bebolds the favour, love, and grace of God in pardoning his sins, and restoring bim from his spiritual captivity, it engages his affections with renewed strengtb and ardour to cleave to the ordinances and ways of God.
Jerusalem was walled round, but it was not as yet fully inhabited, and there
fore weak and despicable. Nehemiah's next care is to bring people into it, of that we have here an account. (1.) The methods taken to replenish it, ver. 1, 2. (2.) The principal persons that resided there, of Judah and Benjamin, ver. 3-9. Of the priests and Levites, ver. 10-19, (3.) The several cities and villages of Judah and Benjamin, that were peopled by the rest of their families, ver. 20—36.
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VER. 16. “ And Jozabad of the chicf of the Levites bad the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.")-The due order and regular management of the outward affairs of the church of God is as necessary for the peace and prosperity of the people as the ministry of the word, namely, in the elders visiting the sick, and shewing brotherly love to the poor, and praying for those that are aflicted, and in the deacons of the church serving the tables, namely, the Lord's table, the minister's table, and the table of the poor. When the outward affairs of God's house are more strictly and conscientiously attended to, then we may humbly hope for peace in all the churches ; for “ God is a God of order."
In this chapter is preserved upon record, (1.) The names of the chief of
the priests and the Levites that came up with Zerabbabel, ver. 1-9. (2.) The succession of the high priests, ver. 10, 11. (3.) The names of the next generation of the other chief priests, ver. 12--91. (4.) The eminent Levites that were in Nehemiah's time, ver. 22-26. (5.) The solemnity of dedicating the wall of Jerusalem, ver. 27 -43. (6.) The settling of thie offices of the priests and Levites in the temple, ver, 44-47.
VER. 43. " So that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.")-The joy of God's people is an beavenly, sublime, and spiritual joy, wbich ariscth from his presence with them, his blessing of them, and their views of their interest in his love, faithfulness, and power; for it is said, the people « greatly rejoiced.” While the princes, priests, and Levites, testify their joy by great sacrifices, sound of trumpets, musical instrumenis, and songs of praise, the common people testified their's by loud shouts; and these shouts coming from a sincere and hearty joy are bere taken notice of; for God overlooks not the honest, zealous services of mean people. It is observed, that the women and children rejoiced, and their hosannas were not despised. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings. The reason given is, that “God had made them rejoice with great joy." Great mercics call for the most solemn returns of praise, “ in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, o Jerusalem."
Nehemiab having by divine assistance finished what he undertook for the
fencing and filling of the holy city, returned to the king his master, who could not long be without him, as appears, ver. 6. But after
some time got leave to come back again to Jerusalem to redress griep. ances, and purge out some corruptions which had crept in in his absence; and very active he was in reforming several abuses, which here we have an account of. (1.) He turned out from Israel the mixed multitude, the Moabites and Ammonites especially, ver. 1-3. And Tobiah, with a particular indignation, he expelled ont of the lodgings he had got in the court of the temple, ver. 4-9. (2.) He secured the maintenance of the priests and Levites to them more firmly than it had been, ver. 10-14. (3.) He restrained the profanation of the sabbath-day, and provided for the due sanctification of it, ver. 15-22. (4.) He checked the growing miscbief of marrying strange wives, ver. 23–31.
VER. 14. “ Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I bave done for the house of my God.")-The zeal and activity of the children of God for the glory of his name may be said to be good deeds, as they spring from a good principle, namely, love to God, and for a good end, namely, the glory of God, and as they are performed by a good influence, namely, the Spirit of God. And these heroic acts of faith, love, and zeal, which they through grace perform, are to be remem. bered in tbe church, to the honour of God in raising them up for such eminent usefulness for his glory, that they being dead yet speak.” Note, the christian's humility; “ Lord, remember me," not, reward me, or save me for my good deeds; no, the bible christian knows better; but * remember me," that is, manifestatively to visit me, to comfort me, to direct and support me; which is to be understood of a prayer for more supplies of grace and strength.
In the former books of Nehemiah and Ezra we have an account of the wonderful deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon : but this book of Esther chiefly relates some remarkable occurrences and appearances of divine providence for them under the reign of Ahasuerus; and thougb this book is placed in order after the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, yet it is supposed that it was before them in time; for it is not probable tbat the great deliverance of the Jews throughout all the provinces was after their return from captivity.
The Hebrews call this book Megillath Esther, that is, the volume of Esther, as it chiefly relates the wonderful ap. pearances of God for them by Esther, through the interces. sion of Mordecai, at the gate. In which respect Mordecai was a figure of Christ, the great intercessor in heaven, by whom we are delivered from the wrath to coine : see the note on chap. x. 3. This book is thought to be written by Mordecai, who bore a principal part in the history, Esther ix. 20. It contains an illustrious and eminent instance of God's singular care and watchfulness over his church in her greatest straits and difficulties, and how he disposes of all affairs and events, so as they certainly shall conduce to his