The Jews complain of grievances. (1-5) Nehemiah redresses the
grievances. (6-13) Nehemiah's forbearance. (14-19)
Men prey upon their fellow-creatures: by despising the poor
they reproach their Maker. Such conduct is a disgrace to any,
but who can sufficiently abhor it when adopted by professing
Christians? With compassion for the oppressed, we should lament
the hardships which many in the world are groaning under;
putting our souls into their souls' stead, and remembering in
our prayers and succours those who are burdened. But let those
who show no mercy, expect judgment without mercy.
Nehemiah knew that, if he built Jerusalem's walls ever so
high, so thick, or so strong, the city could not be safe while
there were abuses. The right way to reform men's lives, is to
convince their consciences. If you walk in the fear of God, you
will not be either covetous of worldly gain, or cruel toward
your brethren. Nothing exposes religion more to reproach, than
the worldliness and hard-heartedness of the professors of it.
Those that rigorously insist upon their right, with a very ill
grace try to persuade others to give up theirs. In reasoning
with selfish people, it is good to contrast their conduct with
that of others who are liberal; but it is best to point to His
example, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor,
according to promise. Good promises are good things, but good
performances are better.
Those who truly fear God, will not dare to do any thing
cruel or unjust. Let all who are in public places remember that
they are so placed to do good, not to enrich themselves.
Nehemiah mentions it to God in prayer, not as if he had merited
any favour from God, but to show that he depended upon God only,
to make up to him what he had lost and laid out for his honour.
Nehemiah evidently spake and acted as one that knew himself to
be a sinner. He did not mean to claim a reward as of debt, but
in the manner that the Lord rewards a cup of cold water given to
a disciple for his sake. The fear and love of God in the heart,
and true love of the brethren, will lead to every good work.
These are proper evidences of justifying faith; and our
reconciled God will look upon persons of this character for
good, according to all they have done for his people.