Nehemiah 9:35
For they have not served you in their kingdom, and in your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and fat land which you gave before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.
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Nehemiah 9:35. For they served thee not in the land which thou gavest them — That is, which thou didst lay open to their view and possession; removing their enemies, and all impediments, out of the way. Neither turned they from their wicked works — They not only all acted wickedly, from the highest to the lowest, but would not be reclaimed. Thus they acknowledge the justice of God in all the punishments he had inflicted on them, though heavy and of long continuance.9:4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.Thou gavest them saviours - See Judges 3:15 etc. 32. Now therefore, our God … who keepest covenant and mercy—God's fidelity to His covenant is prominently acknowledged, and well it might; for their whole national history bore testimony to it. But as this could afford them little ground of comfort or of hope while they were so painfully conscious of having violated it, they were driven to seek refuge in the riches of divine grace; and hence the peculiar style of invocation here adopted: "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy." Which thou gavest before them, i.e. which thou didst lay open to their view and possession, removing their enemies and all impediments out of the way. For they have not served thee in their kingdom,.... When in it, whether of Israel or of Judah, and when in the most flourishing circumstances:

and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them; amidst all the prosperity and affluence of good things they enjoyed, which was an obligation upon them to serve the Lord:

and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them; the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk, which lay open for them, their enemies being driven out before them, see Nehemiah 9:25,

neither turned they from their wicked works; their idolatries more especially.

For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.
35. they] emphatic, i.e. the kings and princes; as distinguished from ‘thou’ and ‘we,’ used emphatically in Nehemiah 9:33.

in their kingdom] Perhaps with a slight touch of irony, since ‘their kingdom’ was itself God’s gift to Israel. The use of the word shows that the ‘kings’ and ‘princes’ of Nehemiah 9:34 are especially referred to.

goodness] Material blessings generally as in Nehemiah 9:25.

fat land] Cf. Nehemiah 9:25.

wicked works] The word so translated is used with especial reference to idolatry. Cf. Jeremiah 35:15, ‘Amend your doings,’ Zechariah 1:6, ‘According to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.’Verse 35. - They have not served thee in their kingdom. There is no need of altering the reading here. "In their kingdom" means, "while they had a kingdom of their own, and were not subjects, as now, to a foreign power." Thy great goodness. See above, ver. 25. The large and fat land. Compare Exodus 3:8. Although the limits of Palestine are narrow, yet the land which God flare to his people, extending as it did from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt (Genesis 15:18), might well he termed a "large" or "broad" land. "And testifiedst against them, to bring them back again to Thy law; yet they hearkened not to Thy commandments, and sinned against Thy judgments, which if a man do he shall live in them, and gave a resisting shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. Nehemiah 9:30 And Thou didst bear with them many years, and didst testify against them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets; but they would not hearken, therefore Thou gavest them into the hand of the people of the lands. Nehemiah 9:31 Nevertheless in Thy great mercy Thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for Thou art gracious and merciful."

Nehemiah 9:29 and Nehemiah 9:30 treat of the times of the kings. בּהם ותּעד is the testimony of the prophets against the idolatrous people; comp. Nehemiah 9:26. וּבמשׁפּטיך is emphatically prefixed, and taken up again by בּם. The sentence, which if a man do he shall live in them, is formed upon Leviticus 18:5, comp. Ezekiel 20:11. On the figurative expression, they gave a resisting shoulder, comp. Zechariah 7:11. The simile is taken from the ox, who rears against the yoke, and desires not to bear it; comp. Hosea 4:16. The sentences following are repeated from Nehemiah 9:16. עליהם תּמשׁך is an abbreviated expression for חסד משׁך, Psalm 36:11; Psalm 109:12; Jeremiah 31:3, to draw out, to extend for a long time favour to any one: Thou hadst patience with them for many years, viz., the whole period of kingly rule from Solomon to the times of the Assyrians. The delivering into the power of the people of the lands, i.e., of the heathen (comp. Psalm 106:40.), began with the invasion of the Assyrians (comp. Nehemiah 9:32), who destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes, and was inflicted upon Judah also by means of the Chaldeans.

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