February 24, 2003
Ezra being desired to bring forth the book of the law, read it to the people and others, expounded it to them, #Ne 8:1-8 and Nehemiah exhorted the people to express joy and gladness on this occasion, which they did, #Ne 8:9-12 and observing the feast of tabernacles was in the law commanded to be observed, they kept it very strictly and joyfully, #Ne 8:13-18. (Gill)
Let me mention up front that this chapter tells us of the importance of making the law understood by God's people.
V. 5, they listened from the heart. They stood willingly when the book of the law was opened. See 2 Chronicles 31:21.
V. 7, caused the people to understand the law: Nehemiah read the law, probably in Hebrew, and the Levites translated it into Chaldee.
V. 8, evidently, they also explained the law in a manner the people could understand. This is the responsibility of any teacher of the Word of God today read it, and explain it, so the people can understand what the Lord requires of them.
V. 9, the people wept when they heard and understood the word of God. The word of God should bring conviction. Conviction brings obedience.
They stood for ½ day while the Law of Moses was read, and they still wept when they heard it. We sit for 1 ½ hour and weep because we must sit so long.
V. 10, Nehemiah told the people not to mourn, for it was a day of rejoicing because they heard and understood the law.
The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Serving Him with cheerfulness and thankfulness will give us strength of mind and body to do all the duties required of us by the Lord. It will also equip us to stand against the attacks of the enemy, as he attempts to make us unfit for God's service. (See Pool)
V. 12, understanding the law and being right with God should be a cause of rejoicing. On the other end, not hearing and understanding the law of Moses is a cause for sorrow.
V. 16, the word of God was read and explained at the Water Gate (the word of God), bringing repentance and obedience at the gate of Ephraim.
Vv. 17, 18, obedience brought great gladness.