Nehemiah 9:32
Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keep covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before you, that has come on us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Here begins the prayer proper.

Kings of Assyria.—“The rod of God’s anger” (Isaiah 10:5). Pul, Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, Sargon, Sennacherib, Esar-haddon, are traced in the sacred record as successive scourges.

Nehemiah 9:32-33. Who keepest covenant and mercy — He adds mercy, because the covenant in itself was not a sufficient ground of hope, because they having so basely broken it, God was discharged from keeping it, and therefore they flee to his free and rich mercy for relief. Howbeit, thou art just in all that is brought upon us — We cannot complain of any of thy dispensations toward us, for the whole series of our history shows that thou art just in all thy ways toward the children of men. It becomes us, when we are under the rebukes of Providence, be they ever so sharp, or ever so long continued, still to justify God, and to own we are punished less than our iniquities deserve.9:4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.Thou gavest them saviours - See Judges 3:15 etc. 32. Now therefore, our God … who keepest covenant and mercy—God's fidelity to His covenant is prominently acknowledged, and well it might; for their whole national history bore testimony to it. But as this could afford them little ground of comfort or of hope while they were so painfully conscious of having violated it, they were driven to seek refuge in the riches of divine grace; and hence the peculiar style of invocation here adopted: "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy." Covenant and mercy, i.e. covenanted mercy, or thy covenant of mercy and peace. Or, he adds mercy, because the covenant in itself was not a sufficient ground of hope, because they having so basely broken it, God was discharged from keeping it, and therefore they fly to God’s free and rich mercy for relief.

Let not all the trouble seem little before thee; do not thou account it small and insufficient for our punishment, and that it is fit to continue and increase it.

Since the time of the kings of Assyria, strictly and properly so called; for from them was the beginning of all the calamities, both of Judah and of Israel, as appears from 2 Kings 15:19 18:13. Or, the kings of Babylon, so called, 2 Chronicles 33:11. Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy,.... The same titles Nehemiah gives to the Lord, Nehemiah 1:5 and it may be reasonably thought the whole prayer is his composure, which was delivered by him to the Levites:

let not all the trouble seem little before thee; as if it was not enough; let it be judged sufficient, and no more be added, but mercy shown; Aben Ezra thinks the word "little" is not to be connected with "trouble", but with the nearest antecedent "mercy", and so Gussetius (z); as if the sense was, let not thy mercy be small with thee, but let it be largely extended along with all the trouble, or at the time when trouble of every kind

comes upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the times of the kings of Assyria unto this day; but this sense is not clear, and makes it have respect to times to come; whereas it relates to time past, and to all the trouble and affliction they had met with from the Assyrian kings, from the time they invaded their land, and carried them captive, until this very time.

(z) Ebr. Comment. p. 937.

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the {i} kings of Assyria unto this day.

(i) By whom we were led away into captivity and have been appointed to be slain, as in Es 3:13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32–35. Israel’s sufferings in the past a just punishment from God

32. our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God] Cf. note on Nehemiah 1:5. See Deuteronomy 10:17, ‘the great God, the mighty and the terrible.’ Daniel 9:4.

who keepest covenant and mercy] Cf. Nehemiah 1:5.

trouble] R.V. travail. The Hebrew word (t’lâah) here used is only found in the O. T., Exodus 18:8; Numbers 20:14; Lamentations 3:5; Malachi 1:13 (= ‘weariness’).

seem little before thee] A humble way of entreating for gracious consideration. The construction is like that of Nehemiah 9:19 (see note), ‘As for all the travail, let it not seem little, &c.’

upon us, on our kings, &c.] The nation is here described under a threefold division, (1) the aristocracy, the king and the nobles, (2) the religious castes, the priestly officials and the prophetic schools, (3) the laity generally, the heads of the houses or fathers and the mass of the nation.

since the time of the kings of Assyria] i.e. since the kings of Assyria first made Israel tributary. When this took place is not known. The first recorded instance in Scripture is that of Menahem and Pekah (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 15:24), who submitted to Pul or Tiglath-Pileser II. (745–727 b.c.). But it is evident from the famous ‘Black obelisk’ that Jehu was among the vassal kings who brought tribute to Shalmaneser II. (842 b.c.). The kings of Babylon, of Egypt and of Persia had exercised the same dominion. Assyria was the typical oppressor; Assyria first carried away Israel into captivity (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 17:23).Verse 32. - Our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible. Compare Nehemiah 1:5, with the comment. Who keepest covenant and mercy. This phrase, which occurs also in Nehemiah 1:5, has apparently been derived from the Psalmist's words - "My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him" (Psalm 89:28). All the trouble. Literally, "the weariness;" but the word is clearly used here for "suffering" generally. Since the time of the kings of Assyria. The kings of Assyria, in the strictest sense of the word, had been God's original instrument for punishing his rebellious people. A king not mentioned in Holy Scripture tells us that he defeated Ahab, and forced Jehu to pay him tribute. Another (Pul) took tribute from Menahem (2 Kings 15:19, 20). A third (Tiglath. Pfieser) carried two tribes and a half into captivity (ibid. ver. 29; 1 Chronicles 5:26). A fourth (Shalmaneser) laid siege to Samaria (2 Kings 17:5), and a fifth (Sargon) took it. A sixth (Sennacherib) took all the fenced cities of Judah from Hezekiah, and forced him to buy the safety of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-16). A seventh (Esar-haddon) had Manasseh brought as a prisoner to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11). Hence Isaiah calls the Assyrian monarch "the rod of God's anger" (Isaiah 10:5). But even in that good land the fathers were disobedient: they rejected the commands of God, slew the prophets who admonished them, and were not brought back to the obedience of God even by the chastisement inflicted on them, till at length God delivered them into the hands of Gentile kings, though after His great mercy He did not utterly forsake them. - Nehemiah 9:26 "And they were disobedient, and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their backs, and slew Thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to Thee, and they wrought great provocations. Nehemiah 9:27 And Thou deliveredst them into the hand of their oppressors, so that they oppressed them; and in the time of their oppression they cried unto Thee. Then Thou heardest them from heaven, and according to Thy manifold mercies Thou gavest them deliverers, who delivered them out of the hand of their oppressors. Nehemiah 9:28 And when they had rest, they again did evil before Thee. Then Thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; and they cried again unto Thee, and Thou heardest from heaven, and didst deliver them according to Thy great mercy, many times."

Nehemiah 9:26

Nehemiah 9:26 again contains, like Nehemiah 9:16, a general condemnation of the conduct of the children of Israel towards the Lord their God during the period between their entrance into Canaan and the captivity, which is then justified by the facts adduced in the verses following. In proof of their disobedience, it is mentioned that they cast the commands of God behind their back (comp. 1 Kings 14:19; Ezekiel 23:35), and slew the prophets, e.g., Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:21), the prophets of the days of Jezebel (1 Kings 18:13; 1 Kings 19:10), and others who rebuked their sins to turn them from them. בּ העיד, to testify against sinners, comp. 2 Kings 17:13, 2 Kings 17:15. The last clause of Nehemiah 9:26 is a kind of refrain, repeated from Nehemiah 9:18.

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