Nehemiah 12:47
So in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside daily portions for the Levites, and the Levites set aside daily portions for the descendants of Aaron.
Joy of JerusalemR.A. Redford Nehemiah 12:1-47
Ministers of the LordW. Clarkson. Nehemiah 12:1-26, 44-47
Thanks-Giving and Thanks-LivingMatthew Henry.Nehemiah 12:45-47
The Good Old TimesHomiletic CommentaryNehemiah 12:45-47
Knowing all that we do know of God's ancient people, of the devoutness of their spirit, and their disposition to connect closely the human and the Divine, we should expect that the building of the wall round the sacred city would be followed by some religious service. The verses of the text give a graphic description of this interesting scene. The Levites who had been dispersed through the province were "sought out of all their places" (ver. 27), and the "sons of the singers gathered themselves together" (ver. 28) from "the villages round about Jerusalem" (ver. 29). It was a day of sacred joy, when gladness in the Lord rose to enthusiasm, and could only be poured forth in song and shouting. First, however, came the solemn ceremony of purification (ver. 30), the sprinkling of "water of separation"- a "purification for sin" (Numbers 19:9-13). This was sprinkled on the

(1) priests and Levites themselves,

(2) on the people, and

(3) on the wall: everything was to be "clean" and "holy unto the Lord."

Then came the twofold procession (vers. 31-40). In two divisions, starting from the same point, and going in opposite directions, they traversed the walls, Nehemiah beading one half of the princes of the people, and Ezra the other half; in both cases preceded by the "thanksgiving companies" (ver. 31), which played and sang as they marched. They met near the entrance to the temple (ver. 40), and there joined in the utterance of public praise, singing "loud thanksgivings to their God" (ver. 42). Then came "great sacrifices" (ver. 43) offered on the brazen altar by the priests, the people, during the procession and after the sacrifices, rending the air with shouts of great joy, women and children joining in the general gladness, "so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off" (ver. 43). The whole scene suggests thoughts to us of -

I. OUR PURIFICATION OF OURSELVES. If we ask, What is there in Christianity that answers to the purification of themselves and of the people by the priests under Judaism? (ver. 30), we answer that there are two ways in which we are now made clean.

1. "By the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" we are "cleansed from all iniquity." We are "justified by his blood" (Romans 5:9). Applying to our own souls' need the propitiatory work of our Redeemer, we ourselves are "made whole" in the sight of God; "we are washed,... we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

2. By deliberate separation of ourselves to the service of God. Not the withdrawal of ourselves from the relationships in which we are called to stand or from the active duties which await our energy and skill, but the separation of our souls from the evil which is in the world, and a full dedication of our powers and our lives to the service of our Saviour. Thus are we purified.

II. THE ACCEPTABLENESS OF OUR WORK. The wall which had been built was purified as well as the builders (ver. 30). Our work which we have wrought for God and man needs to be made clean, pure, acceptable. It is thus rendered -

1. Through the work of the Divine Mediator. We ask acceptance of all we have done for Jesus' sake.

2. By the spirit of consecration we show in its execution.

(1) By entering upon it with a pure desire to honour Christ and bless our brethren.

(2) By doing it in a spirit of thorough loyalty to him and sympathy with them.

(3) By ascribing its success, when completed, to his gracious guidance and help.

III. OUR JOY. The joy of the Jews on this occasion was

(1) occasioned by a sense of deliverance and security; was

(2) sanctified by gratitude and devotion: they "gave thanks in the house of God" (ver. 40), and "offered great sacrifices" (ver. 43); and it was

(3) general and contagious: it extended to all classes and ages, and went far and wide beyond the city walls - it was "heard afar off" (ver. 43). Such should be the characteristics of our Christian joy; it also should -

(1) Be kindled in the heart by our deep sense of redemption and security through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(2) Be sanctified by much thanksgiving and devotion. Gladness is never so pure and safe as when it takes the form of gratitude, and goes into the house of God to worship there.

(3) Extend to all those below us - the children, the servants, etc.; and all around us - be felt "afar off." - C.

And both the singers.
We have here the effects of the joy that was at the dedication of the wall.

I. The ministers were more careful than they had been of their work. Ii. The people were more careful than they had been of the maintenance of their ministers. The surest way for ministers to recommend themselves to their people, and gain an interest in their affections, is to wait on their ministry, to be humble and industrious, and to mind their business; when these did so, the people thought nothing too much for them to encourage them.

1. Care is here taken for the collecting of their dues.

2. Care is taken that, being gathered in, it might be duly paid out.

(Matthew Henry.)

For in the days of David and Asaph of old.
Homiletic Commentary.
I. NOTHING IS NECESSARILY GOOD BECAUSE IT IS OLD. "Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?" Habit, education, tradition, prejudice, play an important part in history.

II. THAT WHICH IS OLD IS PRESUMPTIVELY VALUABLE. Good lasts. Truth is as old as the hills. Application: Prove all things. Despise nothing. The present is a huge borrower from the dead past.

(Homiletic Commentary.).

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