Charles Simeon Commentary - Nehemiah 8:10 - 8:10

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Nehemiah 8:10 - 8:10


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DISCOURSE: 446

THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH

Neh_8:10. The joy of the Lord is your strength.

THE preaching of God’s word is a very ancient ordinance. In the context we have a description of the manner in which Nehemiah conducted it. These means of instruction were useful in that day; nor are they less necessary in every place and age. People need, not only reproof for what is wrong, but direction in what is right. The Jews wept bitterly at the hearing of the law; but Nehemiah corrected their sorrow as ill-timed, and exhorted them to rejoice in God, who had done so great things for them.

Let us observe,

I.       What reason we have to rejoice in the Lord—

God is often said to rejoice over his people [Note: Zep_3:17.]; but the joy here spoken of must be understood rather of that which we feel in the recollection of God’s goodness towards us.

The Jews at that season had special cause for joy in God—

[They had been miraculously delivered from Babylon. This temple had been rebuilt in twenty years, and the worship of God restored; and now, after seventy years more, the wall of the city was finished. They had been enabled to surmount innumerable difficulties [Note: Neh_4:17.]: they had prospered, even to a miracle, in their endeavours [Note: Neh_6:16.]. These were tokens of the divine favour, and pledges of its continuance. They were therefore called upon to rejoice with gratitude and confidence: nor was their sorrow, however just, to exclude this joy.]

Such reason also have all the Lord’s people to rejoice in the Lord—

[They have experienced a redemption from sorer captivity, and been delivered by more stupendous means — — — Every day’s preservation too from their numerous enemies is, as it were, a miracle; yet the work of their souls is carried on in spite of enemies, yea, is expedited through the means used to defeat it. Surely then they should say, like the Church of old, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad [Note: Psa_126:3.].” Moreover, these mercies are pledges to them, and earnests of yet richer blessings. They may well confide in so good and gracious a God. They have indeed still great cause for sorrow on account of their past violations of the law; yet is it their duty to rejoice, yea to “rejoice always in the Lord [Note: Php_4:4.].”]

To promote and encourage this, we proceed to shew,

II.      In what respects this joy is our strength—

We are as dependent on the frame of our minds as on the state of our bodies. Joy in God produces very important effects:

1.       It disposes for action—

[Fear and sorrow depress and overwhelm the soul [Note: Isa_57:16.]: they enervate and benumb all our faculties; they keep us from attending to any encouraging considerations [Note: Exo_6:9.]; they disable us from extending relief to others [Note: Job_2:13.]; they indispose us for the most necessary duties [Note: Luk_22:45.]. We cannot pray, or speak, or do any thing with pleasure. On the contrary, a joyous frame exhilarates the soul [Note: Pro_17:22.]. David well knew the effect it would produce [Note: Psa_51:12-13.]: and every one may safely adopt his resolution, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart [Note: Psa_119:32.].”]

2.       It qualifies for suffering—

[When the spirit is oppressed, the smallest trial is a burthen. In those seasons we are apt to fret and murmur both against God and man. We consider our trials as the effects of divine wrath; or, overlooking God, we vent our indignation against the instruments he uses. But when the soul is joyous, afflictions appear light [Note: Heb_10:34; Heb_12:2.]. How little did Paul and Silas regard their imprisonment [Note: Act_16:25.]! How willing was Paul to lay down his very life for Christ [Note: Act_20:24.]! This accords with the experience of every true Christian [Note: Rom_5:2-3 and 2Co_6:10.].]

Application—

1.       Let us not be always brooding over our corruptions—

[Seasonable sorrows ought not to be discouraged: but we should never lose sight of all that God has done for us. It is our privilege to walk joyfully before the Lord [Note: Psa_138:5; Psa_149:5; Psa_89:15-16.]. If we abounded more in praise, we should more frequently be crowned with victory [Note: 2Ch_20:21-22.].]

2.       Let us, however, carefully guard against the fresh incursions of sin—

[It is sin that hides the Lord from our eyes [Note: Isa_59:2.]. Joy will not consist with indulged sin [Note: Psa_66:18.]. Let us then “mortify our earthly members,” and our besetting sins. Let us be girt with our armour, whilst we work with our hands [Note: Neh_4:17-18.] — — — Nor ever grieve the Holy Spirit, lest we provoke him to depart from us.]

3.       Let us be daily going to God through Christ

[If ever we rejoice in God at all, it must be through the Lord Jesus Christ [Note: Rom_5:11.]. It is through Christ alone that our past violations of the law can be forgiven [Note: Col_1:20.]. It is through Christ alone that the good work can be perfected in our hearts [Note: Heb_12:2.]. And, since “all things are through him, and from him, let them be to him also [Note: Rom_11:36.].”]