Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God…
Nehemiah's prayer occurs thrice in this chapter, at the close of each section recounting his reforming acts. In the first instance (ver. 14) it is most full, and puts very plainly the merit of good deeds as a plea with God. The same thing is implied in its form in ver. 22. But while, no doubt, the tone of the prayer is startling to us, and is not such as should be offered now by Christians, it but echoes the principle of retribution which underlies the law. "This do, and thou shalt live," was the very foundation of Nehemiah's form of God's revelation. We do not plead our own merits, because we are not under the law, but under grace, and the principle underlying the gospel is life by impartation of unmerited mercy and Divine life. But the law of retribution still remains valid for Christians in so far as that God will never forget any of their works, and will give them full recompense for their work of faith and labour of love. Eternal life here and hereafter is wholly the gift of God; but that fact does not exclude the notion of "the recompense of reward" from the Christian conception of the future. It becomes not us to present our good deeds before the Judge, since they are stained and imperfect, and the goodness in them is His gift. But it becomes Him to crown them with His gracious approbation and to proportion the cities ruled in that future world to the talents faithfully used here. We need not be afraid of obscuring the truth that we are saved "not of works, lest any man should boast," though we insist that a Christian man is rewarded according to his works.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.