Nehemiah 5:9 MEANING

Nehemiah 5:9
(9) Because of the reproach.--The text of another strong argument used in the assembly. We learn in Nehemiah 6 how watchful the heathen were: all matters were reported to them, and every act of oppression would become a reproach against the God of the Jews.

Verse 9. - Also I said. To silence the nobles was not enough. To shame them was not enough. What was wanted was to persuade them. Nehemiah therefore continued his address. It is not good that ye do. It is not good in itself, apart from any contrast with what I have been doing. Ought ye not to walk - or, literally, "will ye not walk"- in the fear of our God? Will ye not really, "fear God and keep his commandments, not in the letter only, but in the spirit? Will ye not cease to oppress your brethren? Will ye not deal kindly and gently with them? Because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies. If the mere fear of God, the desire to escape his displeasure and win his approval, is not enough, will not the thought of the light in which you will appear to the heathen influence you? You make a profession of religion; you claim to be actuated by high motives; to be merciful, compassionate, and self-denying. If they see you as keen after gain as any of themselves, as regardless of others, as pitiless and oppressive, what a reproach will not this bring on your religion! What a proof will it not seem to be that you are no better than your neighbours, and your religion, therefore, no whit superior to theirs!

5:6-13 Nehemiah knew that, if he built Jerusalem's walls ever so high, so thick, or so strong, the city could not be safe while there were abuses. The right way to reform men's lives, is to convince their consciences. If you walk in the fear of God, you will not be either covetous of worldly gain, or cruel toward your brethren. Nothing exposes religion more to reproach, than the worldliness and hard-heartedness of the professors of it. Those that rigorously insist upon their right, with a very ill grace try to persuade others to give up theirs. In reasoning with selfish people, it is good to contrast their conduct with that of others who are liberal; but it is best to point to His example, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich, 2Co 8:9. They did according to promise. Good promises are good things, but good performances are better.Also I said, it is not good that ye do,.... The meaning is, that it was very bad; it is a "meiosis", by which more is intended than is expressed:

ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God; in reverence of him and his law, and according to that:

because of the reproach of the Heathen our enemies? whose mouths will be open to reproach the true religion, and the good ways of God; and say, these are the men that pretend to fear God, and serve him, and yet break his law, and use their brethren ill, see Romans 2:24.

Courtesy of Open Bible