The following commentary covers Chapters 9, 10, and 11.
repentance: under the law
On the twenty-fourth day,
the people came together to humble themselves in a manner
that became their position, and they separated themselves
from all strangers. Beginning with the blessing promised
to Abraham, they relate all the tokens of God's grace
bestowed upon Israel, the frequent unfaithfulness of
which they had afterwards been guilty, and there is a
true expression of heartfelt repentance; they acknowledge
without any disguise their condition (chap. 9: 36, 37),
and undertake to obey the law (chap. 10), to separate
themselves entirely from the people of the land, and
faithfully to perform all that the service of the house
of God required.
A conditional and
Mosaic restoration looked for under Gentile dominion
All this gives a very
distinct character to their position. Acknowledging the
promise made to Abraham, and the bringing in of the
people to Canaan by virtue of this promise, and their
subsequent failure, they place themselves again under the
obligations of the law, while confessing the goodness of
God who had spared them. They do not see beyond a
conditional and Mosaic restoration. Neither the Messiah
nor the new covenant has any place as the foundation of
their joy or of their hope. They are, and they continue
to be, in bondage to the Gentiles.
This was Israel's
condition until, in the sovereign mercy of God, the
Messiah was presented to them. The Messiah could have
brought them out of their position and gathered them
under His wings, but they would not.
It is this position that
the Book of Nehemiah definitely brought out. It is the
king's commandment that provides for the maintenance
of the singers. A Jew was at the king's hand in
all matters concerning the people (chap. 11: 23, 24).