Nehemiah 8

* The reading and expounding the law. (1-8) The people called

upon to be joyful. (9-12) The feast of tabernacles, The joy of

the people. (13-18)

1-8 Sacrifices were to be offered only at the door of the

temple; but praying and preaching were, and are, services of

religion, as acceptably performed in one place as in another.

Masters of families should bring their families with them to the

public worship of God. Women and children have souls to save,

and are therefore to acquaint themselves with the word of God,

and to attend on the means of grace. Little ones, as they come

to reason, must be trained up in religion. Ministers when they

go to the pulpit, should take their Bibles with them; Ezra did

so. Thence they must fetch their knowledge; according to that

rule they must speak, and must show that they do so. Reading the

Scriptures in religious assemblies is an ordinance of God,

whereby he is honoured, and his church edified. Those who hear

the word, should understand it, else it is to them but an empty

sound of words. It is therefore required of teachers that they

explain the word, and give the sense of it. Reading is good, and

preaching is good, but expounding makes reading the better

understood, and preaching the more convincing. It has pleased

God in almost every age of the church to raise up, not only

those who have preached the gospel, but also those who have

given their views of Divine truth in writing; and though many

who have attempted to explain Scripture, have darkened counsel

by words without knowledge, yet the labours of others are of

excellent use. All that we hear must, however, be brought to the

test of Scripture. They heard readily, and minded every word.

The word of God demands attention. If through carelessness we

let much slip in hearing, there is danger that through

forgetfulness we shall let all slip after hearing.
9-12 It was a good sign that their hearts were tender, when

they heard the words of the law. The people were to send

portions to those for whom nothing was prepared. It is the duty

of a religious feast, as well as of a religious fast, to draw

out the soul to the hungry; God's bounty should make us

bountiful. We must not only give to those that offer themselves,

but send to those out of sight. Their strength consisted in joy

in the Lord. The better we understand God's word, the more

comfort we find in it; the darkness of trouble arises from the

darkness of ignorance.
13-18 They found written in the law about the feast of

tabernacles. Those who diligently search the Scriptures, find

things written there which they have forgotten. This feast of

tabernacles was a representation of the believer's tabernacle

state in this world, and a type of the holy joy of the gospel

church. The conversion of the nations to the faith of Christ, is

foretold under the figure of this feast, #Zec 14:16|. True

religion will render us strangers and pilgrims upon earth. We

read and hear the word acceptably and profitably, when we do

according to what is written therein; when what appears to be

our duty is revived, after it has been neglected. They minded

the substance; else the ceremony had been of no use. They did

it, rejoicing in God and his goodness. These are the means which

the Spirit of God crowns with success, in bringing the hearts of

sinners to tremble and to become humbled before God. But those

are enemies to their own growth in holiness, who always indulge

sorrow, even for sin, and put away from them the consolations

tendered by the word and Spirit of God.
Copyright information for MHCC