Nehemiah 13:14
Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my deeds of loving devotion for the house of my God and for its services.
Sermons
The Blessing of God on an Active Life Founded Upon His WordR.A. Redford Nehemiah 13:1-31
Personal Purification of the BelieverW. P. Lockhart.Nehemiah 13:7-31
The Devoted PatriotM. G. Pearse.Nehemiah 13:7-31
The Religious ReformerW. Ritchie.Nehemiah 13:7-31
Practical Christian WisdomW. Clarkson Nehemiah 13:10-14
Nehemiah's SincerityRobert Burns, D. D.Nehemiah 13:14-22
The Law of RewardA. Maclaren, D. D.Nehemiah 13:14-22
The Mercy of God Chin Origin of the Reward of Good WorksJoseph Mede, B. D.Nehemiah 13:14-22
Nehemiah must have been shocked indeed to find on his return to Jerusalem (ver. 7) what a sad relapse had taken place during his absence from the city. Most painful of all must it have been to him to find that the service of Jehovah in his own house had been so scandalously neglected. He found not only that chambers of the temple were in the occupation of the enemy of the people of God (ver. 7), but that, the Levites being scattered abroad, because their portion had been withheld (ver. 10), the house of God was forsaken (ver 11). We gather from the whole incident recorded in vers. 10-14 -

I. THAT MATERIAL SUPPLIES AND SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY ARE IMPORTANTLY CONNECTED (ver. 10). "The portions of the Levites had not been given them," and, consequently, they had "fled every one to his field" (ver. 10). It may be open to question whether these Levites - singers and other officials - had shown as much disinterestedness and devotion as could have been wished. It might be argued that as servants of God they might have stood at their posts and starved rather than desert the field of sacred duty. Perhaps if they had been some degrees more heroic than they were they would have risked and suffered all privations rather than forsake their work. But however this may have been, it is certain that the people had no right whatever to reckon on such heroism; they ought to have acted on the supposition that these were men of average piety, and that men of ordinary goodness will not continue to serve if they are not sustained in their service. The human nature which there is in every good man - and which will certainly be shown in every class and order of good men - is a factor which must not be disregarded. It is a feature that must be taken into account; a want that must be provided for. If it be left out of account, then, whatever the system or society may be, there will be found, as here, negligence, desertion, duty undone, God's house forsaken, a fleeing from the temple to the field. Material resources have their place in the prosperity of the best of causes.

II. THAT GOOD MEN AS WELL AS GOOD METHODS ARE NECESSARY FOR LASTING SUCCESS. Judging from the four concluding verses of the preceding chapter (Nehemiah 12:44-47), we gather that a very satisfactory system for receiving and storing the offerings, and also for distributing them, had been devised and brought into action. Yet, in Nehemiah's absence, it failed to effect its purpose. When he returned and witnessed the failure, he immediately

(1) set to work to reorganise: he "set in their place" (ver. 11) the Levites, who, at his instance, returned to Jerusalem, and he "made treasurers over the treasuries "(ver. 12); but besides this, he

(2) appointed "faithful men" (ver. 12), on whom reliance could be placed, to do the work they undertook, infusing his own spirit into all the officers. He impressed on them all his own fervent and faithful genius. How long things went well we know not, but Nehemiah did the best he could do to provide for permanent prosperity: he associated good men with a good method. We should trust neither to one nor to the other. Again and again organisations have broken clown in the Church (whether tithe-taking, money-getting institutions, or others) because, though the machinery was excellent, there was no steam to work the wheels; again and again there has been an excellent spirit, but all has failed for want of a wise method. We must

(a) use our best judgment to perfect our system, and

(b) pray for, and look out for, the wise and earnest-minded men to work it.

III. THAT INDIVIDUAL FIDELITY WILL SURELY MEET WITH ITS APPROPRIATE RECOMPENSE (vers. 13, 14).

1. Usually from man. "I made treasurers... Shelemiah," etc. ... "for they were counted faithful." Integrity, diligence, conscientiousness will generally be seen of man and receive its reward. It may indeed pass unnoticed, but as a rule it is recognised and rewarded. Be faithful, and you will be "counted faithful."

2. Certainly from God. "Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds," etc. (ver. 14). There are many motives, all good, but some higher than others, which should prompt us to diligent and faithful labour for our Lord and our race. We may work in the vineyard of the Great Husbandman because

(1) be calls us, and it is our bounden duty to respond; or because

(2) our zeal is called forth by the apparent and urgent necessity for our help; or because

(3) we delight in holy activity, and are never so happy as when the weapon of usefulness is in our hand; or we may do so because

(4) we have "respect unto the recompense of the our God for good;" we would that he should "not wipe out our good deeds" (ver. 14), but record them in his "book of remembrance;" and, not being "unrighteous to forget our work and labor of love" (Hebrews 6:10), reward every one according to his work. The truest humility (Luke 17:10) may characterise the same disciple that has the most earnest aspiration to receive his Master's commendation, and to have rule given him over many things." We may turn this prayer into a prediction. God will remember us, and will suffer nothing to blot out our pure endeavours from his book. We shall surely meet them again. Our "works follow us," and will find us in his presence. - C.







Remember me, O my God, concerning this
Learn —

I. THAT TO MAKE PROVISION FOR MAINTENANCE OF GOD'S WORSHIP AND THE MINISTERS THEREOF IS A WORTHY WORK, AND OF HIGH ESTEEM AND FAVOUR WITH GOD (1 Chronicles 29:17, 18; Deuteronomy 12:19; 2 Kings 4.; Luke 7:3-5; Matthew 10:41; Philippians 4:18; 2 Timothy 1:16-18).

II. THAT GOD REWARDETH THESE AND ALL OUR OTHER GOOD DEEDS AND WORKS NOT FOR ANY MERIT OR WORTHINESS THAT IS IN THEM, BUT OF HIS FREE MERCY AND GOODNESS.

1. The Scriptures encourage us to work in hope of reward (Psalm 19:11; Proverbs 11:18; Matthew 5:11, 12; Matthew 10:41, 42; Luke 6:35; 2 John 8).

2. Whence this reward cometh. "According to Thy great mercy" (Hosea 10:12; Romans 6:23; Psalm 62:12).

III. THAT IT IS LAWFUL TO DO GOOD WORKS WITH RESPECT TO THE RECOMPENSE OF REWARD. It is plain Nehemiah here did so. So did Moses Hebrews 11:25, 26).

(Joseph Mede, B. D.)

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.)

Paul assures the believing Hebrews that God will not forget "their work of faith and labour of love," and this prayer of Nehemiah's is nothing more than a petition that God will be pleased to fulfil Hie own promise regarding him. It was not the dictate of a self-righteous spirit. There is no self-righteousness in the humble prayer that God would look upon him in love; that He would deign to accept of his feeble services as proof and evidences of a religious spirit; that He would be pleased to verify His promise, that "it shall be well with them that fear the Lord," and that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come." Consider —

I. A sketch of Nehemiah's HISTORY.

II. Nehemiah's CHARACTER.

1. His steady religious principle. Dwelling amid scenes very uncongenial to the progress of piety in the heart, he displayed a firmness of principle and an ardour of religious feeling truly admirable. Amidst the enticements of a splendid and licentious court he sought the glory of God and not the gratification of vanity, ambition, or worldly desire. Surrounded by the ensigns of a gross and impious superstition, he reared a standard for the true God, and stood forth as a witness for Him, in the midst of His enemies. Confidence in God kept him steady in the scene of danger; and the lofty aims of a devoted spirit raised him above the grovelling pursuits Of sense.

2. His self-denial. This is one of the best evidences of sound religious principle. When the will is subjugated to the will of God; when the mind feels itself completely satisfied with the wisdom and goodness of the Divine economy; when self is thrown into the background, and a noble disinterestedness gives its tone to the character, then we have some good proof that our religion is sincere. Nehemiah improved his advantages at the Persian court not for his individual good, but for the good of his countrymen. He lost sight of selfish considerations, and feeling for the humblest of the people, he gave them the full value of his labours, without the slightest remuneration. That which he asked not from man he knew God would bestow; hence the prayer of the text.

3. His zeal for the worship and ordinances of God. This is specially displayed in his anxiety to vindicate God's ordinances from abuse, and to enforce their punctual observance. The public reading and expounding the law, for the edification of the people, testified his regard for God's Holy Word. The exactness with which the appointed rites in the feasts of trumpets end tabernacles were gone about, under his superintendence, testified his reverence for the law, in all the minuteness of its requisitions. His zeal for the sanctification of the Sabbath proved the high sense he entertained of its value.

4. His enlightened and consistent perseverance in the discharge of personal and official duty.

(Robert Burns, D. D.)

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