Nehemiah 9:36
Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that you gave to our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Nehemiah 9:36. Behold, we are servants in the land — In that land wherein heretofore, under thee, and by thy favour, we were rightful lords and owners. God had, indeed, marvellously restored them to their own country; yet the marks of his displeasure for their sins still remained very visible: for they were tributary unto others, and not free owners and proprietors of the land which God had given to their fathers.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. 36. Behold, we are servants this day—Notwithstanding their happy restoration to their native land, they were still tributaries of a foreign prince whose officers ruled them. They were not, like their fathers, free tenants of the land which God gave them. In that land wherein heretofore, under thee, and by thy favour, we were rightful lords and owners. Behold, we are servants this day,.... For though they had leave to return to their land, and rebuild their city and temple, yet they were still in subjection to the kings of Persia:

and for the land thou gavest unto our fathers, to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it; though the rightful owners and proprietors of it by the gift of God to their ancestors, to hold it and enjoy the good of it, and yet were obliged to pay tribute for it to the kings of Persia, all excepting priests and Levites; see Ezra 6:8.

Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the {m} fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it:

(m) That is, to be the Lord's.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36, 37. Israel’s present humiliation: her children slaves, her land subject to foreign kings, who oppress it

36. servants] i.e. subject to Persian supremacy. Cf. Ezra’s very similar words in his confession, Ezra 9:9.

for the land] R.V. as for the land.

behold, we are servants] Repeated for emphasis. Israel who should have been mistress of the promised land is a bondservant in it.Verse 36. - We are servants this day. i.e. we have now no kingdom, we are slaves - the Persian is our master. As we would not be God's servants, we are handed over to him (comp. 2 Chronicles 12:8, where "the service of God" and "the service of the kingdoms of the countries" are contrasted). "And testifiedst against them, to bring them back again to Thy law; yet they hearkened not to Thy commandments, and sinned against Thy judgments, which if a man do he shall live in them, and gave a resisting shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. Nehemiah 9:30 And Thou didst bear with them many years, and didst testify against them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets; but they would not hearken, therefore Thou gavest them into the hand of the people of the lands. Nehemiah 9:31 Nevertheless in Thy great mercy Thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for Thou art gracious and merciful."

Nehemiah 9:29 and Nehemiah 9:30 treat of the times of the kings. בּהם ותּעד is the testimony of the prophets against the idolatrous people; comp. Nehemiah 9:26. וּבמשׁפּטיך is emphatically prefixed, and taken up again by בּם. The sentence, which if a man do he shall live in them, is formed upon Leviticus 18:5, comp. Ezekiel 20:11. On the figurative expression, they gave a resisting shoulder, comp. Zechariah 7:11. The simile is taken from the ox, who rears against the yoke, and desires not to bear it; comp. Hosea 4:16. The sentences following are repeated from Nehemiah 9:16. עליהם תּמשׁך is an abbreviated expression for חסד משׁך, Psalm 36:11; Psalm 109:12; Jeremiah 31:3, to draw out, to extend for a long time favour to any one: Thou hadst patience with them for many years, viz., the whole period of kingly rule from Solomon to the times of the Assyrians. The delivering into the power of the people of the lands, i.e., of the heathen (comp. Psalm 106:40.), began with the invasion of the Assyrians (comp. Nehemiah 9:32), who destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes, and was inflicted upon Judah also by means of the Chaldeans.

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