Nehemiah 1:4 MEANING

Nehemiah 1:4
(4-11) Nehemiah's appeal to God. The prayer is a perfect example of the private and individual devotion with which the later Hebrew Scriptures abound. It begins with formal and appropriate invocation (Nehemiah 1:5-8), flows into earnest confession (Nehemiah 1:6-7), pleads the covenant promises (Nehemiah 1:8-10), and supplicates a present answer (Nehemiah 1:11). The extant Scriptures, freely used, are the foundation of all.

(4) Fasted.--Like Daniel, Esther, and Ezra, Nehemiah fasted: fasting appears in later Judaism a prominent part of individual devotion, as it is in the New Testament.

(6) Both I and my father's house have sinned.--The supplication was for the nation; and in such cases of personal intercession the individual assumes the sin of all the past.

(8) The spirit of many threatenings and promises is summed up, as in the prayer of Nehemiah 9.

(11) This day . . . this man.--During his "certain days" of mourning Nehemiah had fixed upon his plan, suggested by his God. "This day" is "this occasion": the appeal itself was deferred for some months. The king becomes "this man" in the presence of the "God of heaven."

For I was the king's cupbearer.--One of his cupbearers, therefore in high authority, having confidential access to him.

Verse 4. - When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. The revelation of the actual condition of Jerusalem came upon Nehemiah with a shock. He had perhaps not thought much upon the subject before; he had had no means of exact information; he had supposed the city flourishing under the superintendence of Ezra, whose piety and patriotism were no doubt known to him. It was a bitter grief to him to find that his people were still "a reproach to their neighbours," laughed to scorn by those whose walls had never been destroyed, or who had been allowed to rebuild them. And he may have felt that his city, under the circumstances of the time, was in real danger. As Dean Stanley observes - "In those days rather one may say m those countries of disorder, a city without locked gates and lofty walls was no city at all" ('Lectures on the Jewish Church,' Third Series, p. 124). A few years previously Egypt had been in revolt; she might revolt again, and carry her arms into Syria. Arab tribes from the desert might extend their raids into Judaea, and be tempted by the known value of the temple treasures to swoop upon the unwalled town. Such thoughts occurring to an excitable Oriental, produced not grief and anxiety merely, but a flood of tears (comp. Ezra 10:1). And fasted. Fasting had become a frequent practice among the Jews during the captivity. Solemn fasts had been introduced on the anniversaries of the taking of Jerusalem, the burning of the temple, and the murder of Gedaliah (Zechariah 8:19). Fasting had also taken a prominent place in the devotions of individuals. Daniel fasted (Daniel 9:3; Daniel 10:3); Esther fasted (Esther 4:16); Ezra fasted (Ezra 10:6); and now Nehemiah fasted. On the grounds of natural piety out of which the practice arises, see the comment on Ezra 10:6. The God of heaven. See the comment on Ezra 1:2.

1:15-44 The best reformers can but do their endeavour; when the Redeemer himself shall come to Zion, he shall effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And when sin is repented of and forsaken, God will forgive it; but the blood of Christ, our Sin-offering, is the only atonement which takes away our guilt. No seeming repentance or amendment will benefit those who reject Him, for self-dependence proves them still unhumbled. All the names written in the book of life, are those of penitent sinners, not of self-righteous persons, who think they have no need of repentance.And it came to pass, when I heard these words,.... This sad and melancholy account of things:

that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; sat down upon the ground in dust and ashes, after the manner of mourners, and wept bitterly, and mourned in a most sorrowful manner, see Job 2:8,

and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven; that made it, and dwells in it.

Courtesy of Open Bible