Pastoral Commentary for Nehemiah 9:16-10:27
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
The reading for today continues with the prayer of Ezra on behalf of God's people. At this point Ezra's prayer turned from the faithfulness of God to the unfaithfulness of God's people. Ezra repeated the phrase "stiff-necked" to describe Israel's stubbornness and their unwillingness to obey the LORD. In contrast to their stubbornness, Ezra remembered that God is "a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." God's goodness in the Exodus and in the settling of the Promised Land stood in stark contrast to the rebelliousness of His people. Ezra remembered how God's people "put your law behind their backs." This reminds us of how dangerous it is for us to despise and neglect God's Word! Ezra recalled the sad cycle of rebellion then oppression, followed by repentance and rescue, then followed again by repeated rebellion. The singular kindness of God was summed up in Ezra's prayer: "Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God." Ezra closed his prayer by asking that the suffering and hardship of God's people not be wasted. He acknowledged: "you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly." In the close of Ezra's prayer, the covenant was renewed in writing, sealed by all the leaders of God's people. It would have been a powerful thing for each covenant leader to hear his own name lifted up to God in prayer, as a party to the covenant.