Adam Osborne dot net My Bible Studies

July 22, 2021


Filed under: Old Testament — Adam Osborne @ 9:51 am

CHAPTER 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12 | 13 | Biblical Leadership Principles | Christ Revealed | Historical Background | Historical Timeframe | Outline | The Return from Exile |

Date Written: 425-400 BC

Period Covered: 450-430 BC

Historical Timeframe:

  • 568 Jerusalem destroyed, exiles go to Babylon
  • 539 Babylon falls to Persia. Persian empire begins
  • 538 First exiles return to Jerusalem, led by Zerubbabel
  • 516 Temple completed
  • 486 Xerxes becomes king of Persia
  • 465 Artaxerxes 1 becomes king of Persia
  • 458 Ezra leads the second refugee group back to Jerusalem
  • 445-432 Book of Nehemiah written
  • 445 Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem, God had softened the heart of Artaxerxes 1, who allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem. The wall was completed; he brought back the third group (last group) of exiles to build the walls
  • 433 Nehemiah returns to Babylon
  • 432 Nehemiah goes back to Jerusalem
  • 430 (?) Malachi begins his ministry
  • 331 End of Persian empire

Type: History

Vernon McGee notes about the book of Nehemiah:

WRITER: Perhaps Ezra
Nehemiah was a layman; Ezra was a priest. In the Book of Ezra, the emphasis is upon the rebuilding of the temple; in the Book of Nehemiah, the emphasis is upon the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In Ezra, we have the religious aspect of the return; in Nehemiah, we have the political aspect of the return. Ezra is a fine representative of the priest and scribe; Nehemiah is a noble representative of the businessman. Nehemiah had an important office at the court of the powerful Persian king, Artaxerxes, but his heart was with God’s people and God’s program in Jerusalem. The personal note is the main characteristic of the book.
DATE: Chronologically, this is the last of the historical books. We have come to the end of the line as far as time is concerned. The Old Testament goes no further. The Book of Ezra picks up the thread of the story about 70 years after 2 Chronicles. The 70-year captivity is over and a remnant returns to the land of Israel. The return under Ezra takes place about 50 years after Zerubbabel. Nehemiah returns about 15 years after Ezra. These figures are approximate and are given to show the stages in the history of Israel after the captivity. This enables one to see how the “70 weeks” of Daniel fit into the picture in a normal and reasonable way. The “70 weeks” of Daniel begin with the Book of Nehemiah (not with Ezra) “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks….” The background of the events of Nehemiah is “…the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25).

KEY WORD: “So” occurs 32 times. It denotes a man of action and few words. Mark this word in your Bible and notice how this ordinarily unimportant word stands out in this book.

Nehemiah 1:4 And it came to pass when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 6:3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?

I. REBUILDING the WALLS, Chapters 1 — 7
A. Nehemiah’s prayer for remnant at Jerusalem, Chapter 1
B. Nehemiah’s request of the king, return to Jerusalem, and
review of ruins of Jerusalem, Chapter 2:1-16
C. Nehemiah’s encouragement to rebuild the walls, Chapter
D. Rebuilding the walls and gates, Chapter 3
E. Nehemiah’s response to opposition, Chapters 4 — 6 (Oz notes… He faces opposition from three powerful neighbors, the Samaritans, the Ammonites, and the Arabs, but manages to rebuild the walls. )
Wall completed, 6:15
F. Nehemiah’s register of people, Chapter 7
(Only 42,360 people, 7,337 servants, and 245 singers returned. Compare this with the fact that Judah alone had 470,000 warriors [1 Chronicles 21:5].)

II. REVIVAL and REFORM, Chapters 8 — 13
A. Great Bible reading led by Ezra, Chapter 8
B. Revival — the result, Chapters 9, 10
C. Reform — another result, Chapters 11 — 13

THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY: God’s chosen people were called to witness against idolatry, but too often they themselves succumed and became idolaters. God sent them to Babylon, the fountainhead of idolatry. They returned repudiating idolatry. Their restoration as an independent nation was incomplete. They were not free from this time on to the time of the Roman Empire. The New Testament opens with them under the rule of Rome.


  1. Identify Your Calling (1:1-11)
  2. Pray for Everything (2:1-8)
  3. Maintain Brutal Honesty (2:9-20)
  4. Delegate and Motivate (3:1-32 ; 12:44-47 ; 13:13)
  5. Couple Prayer with Action (4:1-23)
  6. Demonstrate Integrity (5:1-13)
  7. Serve your Followers (5:14-19)
  8. Maintain Focus (6:1-14)
  9. Depend upon the Lord (6:15 to 7:4)
  10. Teach (8:1-8)
  11. Celebrate Well (8:9-18, 12:27-43)
  12. Take Ownership of Problems and Mistakes (9:1-10 to 10:27)
  13. Give Generously (10:28-39)
  14. Take the First Step (11:1-36)
  15. Repeat Vision. Repeat Vision (13:1-30)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: In the early 6th century Judah rebelled against Babylon and was destroyed (586 BC). The royal court and the priests, prophets and scribes were taken into captivity in Babylon. There the exiles blamed their fate on disobedience to God and looked forward to a future when a penitent and purified people would be allowed return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. (These ideas are expressed in the prophets Jeremiah (although he was not exiled to Babylon), Isaiah, and, especially, Ezekiel). The same period saw the rapid rise of Persia, previously an unimportant kingdom in present-day southern Iran, and in 539 BC Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler, conquered Babylon.

THE RETURN FROM EXILE: (Oz note: remember, Jerusalem had been conquered and destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC (142 years earlier than the book of Nehemiah). Then, later, Persia conquered Babylon.

  1. FIRST: 538 BC. Ezra 1-6. Persian Ruler was Cyrus. Anyone could go and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Zerubbabel led the first return.
  2. SECOND: 458 BC. Ezra 7-10. Persian Ruler Artaxerxes. Anyone could go, Jewish magistrates and judges were allowed. Ezra led the second return.
  3. THIRD: 444 BC. Nehemiah 1-13. Persian Ruler Artaxerxes. Rebuilding Jerusalem was allowed. The book of Nehemiah is actually the THIRD return to rebuild the temple and the walls. Rebuilding of the walls was done in 52 days.

CHRIST REVEALED in the book of Nehemiah:

  • Ezra called on the people to remember God and to remember the Law. He guarded the people until Christ arrives.
  • Christ is not directly referred to in Nehemiah but he typifies Christ by the life he modeled.
  • He was a courageous leader, defying the odds and encouraging the people to do Yahweh’s work.
  • He was an ardent prayer, as was Christ.
  • He was dedicated to God’s Law, an important element in Christ’s life as well.

444 B.C.

Chapter One

Nehemiah’s Prayer

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 

  • Kislev (or Chislev) is the ninth month on the Jewish calendar, counting from Nisan. It is best known for the holiday of Chanukah, which begins on 25 Kislev. 
  • Vernon McGee: v. 1 — The use of the first person pronoun gives the impression that Nehemiah was the writer. If Ezra was the writer, he was copying from the journal of Nehemiah. This book, as was true in the Book of Ezra, has copies of letters, decrees, registers and other documents. The same man wrote both books — Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in the Hebrew canon.

Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

  • Vernon McGee vv. 2-4 — Visitors from Jerusalem come to the palace, and Nehemiah makes inquiry of them about Jerusalem and he condition of the remnant that had returned. When he learns the sad plight of the people and that the walls and gates of Jerusalem are still in shambles, Nehemiah sits down and weeps, mourns and fasts. Then he prays before the God of heaven.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

  • 2 Kings 25:10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 

  • Nehemiah responded to the news about Jerusalem by mourning, fasting, and praying for days. When we go about our daily lives, this should be our first response when facing all of life’s challenges.
  • For the walls to be in the state they were meant the people had neglected to honor and worship the Lord.
  • Jerusalem became the capital of Israel. It was in Jerusalem that Solomon built the temple and his palace. 1 Kings 6-7.
  • The bible predicted that the Jewish people would return to Israel and Jerusalem figures prominently in prophecies the end times.
    • Joel 3:1 “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
    • Jeremiah 23:3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
    • Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.
    • Ezekiel 11:17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’
  • Someday the Jewish temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem
    • Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.
    • Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
  • Currently Jerusalem is still experiencing what Jesus called “the times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” This period began with the Babylonian Exile and will continue through the tribulation period.
    • Revelation 11:2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

Then I said:

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 

  • Vernon McGee – vv. 5-11 — This is the record of Nehemiah’s prayer. “Terrible God” (v. 5 KJV) is “reverend God.” Reverend” should never be used in addressing a pastor or ordained preacher. It should be applied only to God. someone has expressed it this way:
    • Call me Mister, call me friend, A loving ear to all I lend, But do not my soul with anguish rend, PLEASE stop calling me “Reverend.”
  • Nehemiah pleads with God and confesses his sins and those of his people (vv. 6, 7). He reminds God of His promises (vv. 8, 9). Nehemiah casts himself upon the mercy and goodness of God (vv. 10, 11). “This man” refers to King Artaxerxes.
  • Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
  • Exodus 20:6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.

  • 1 Kings 8:28-29 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.
  • 2 Chronicles 6:40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place
  • Daniel 9:17-18 17 â€œNow, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
  • Daniel 9:20 20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—
  • I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you = Israel’s adversities had resulted from the nation’s covenant unfaithfulness. The only reason they were still alive was because of God’s faithfulness and mercy.

We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

  • Psalms 106:6 We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
  • Daniel 9:5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.
  • Deuteronomy 28:15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 

  • Leviticus 26:33  I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.
  • Deuteronomy 4:25-27 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you.
  • Deuteronomy 28:64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known.

but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

  • Leviticus 26:39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away.
  • Deuteronomy 4:29-31 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
  • Deuteronomy 30:2, 4 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.

10 â€œThey are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 

  • Deuteronomy 9:29 But they are your people, your inheritance that you brought out by your great power and your outstretched arm.”
  • Daniel 9:15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.
  • Nehemiah was “reminding God” of who these people were. They were God’s chosen children, whom he loved, and had brought them out of Egypt with His awesome power.

11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

I was cupbearer to the king.

  • Isaiah 26:8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
  • Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
  • Notice that Nehemiah’s content of his prayer was more focused upon God than the people.
  • Nehemiah’s prayer revealed the character of God.
  • Nehemiah had great faith and confidence in who God was and all He had done in the past, and all He would do for his people in the future.
  • Nehemiah understood his place in God’s story and acknowledges his helplessness before God.
  • A cupbearer was a very prominent position, especially considering that Nehemiah was a foreigner. Nehemiah was faithful in small things, and God used him to make a big difference.
  • Nehemiah knew that the real problem wasn’t a broken down city, or broken down walls. The true problem was the people’s relationship with God.
  • Not only was Nehemiah called to rebuild a city, but he was also called to rebuild a community of people in shambles. Because of the exile, Jerusalem was in need of both physical and spiritual renewal.

Chapter Two [return to top]

  • Timeframe: The year now is 443.
    • 538 BC. Cyrus allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem
    • 516 BC. Temple is completed
    • 458 BC. Ezra leads a group of exiles to Jerusalem
    • 444 BC. Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem
  • As you begin to study Chapter Two, the first 10 verses, consider this:
    • It is one thing to have dreams or aspirations of great things; it’s another thing to have and implement a plan for meeting those goals.
    • When setting out to achieve new things, often we come across obstacles, some which were expected, others we did not.
    • In the chapter we will see that Nehemiah moved beyond just aspirations, and took action as he sought to restore Jerusalem. NOTE that action is a verb, you must take action.
    • We are called to do the same, even when it requires sacrifice.
    • So the main point of the first ten verses is Nehemiah’s deep concern for Jerusalem led him beyond emotion, toward preparation and action.

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

  1. In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.
  • Ezra 7:1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah

 2. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid.

  • Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
  • According to most commentaries, you were NOT supposed to have a sad face in front of the King, this was not allowed. That’s why Nehemiah was very much afraid.

 3. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

  • Notice that Nehemiah was not half-hearted in his service to God. He took a risk here, being sad before the king was not allowed. We must be like Nehemiah, go “all in” not halfhearted.
  • Things that are sad for the church, should also make us sad…. and we should take action to resolve the problem.
  • 1 Kings 1:31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!” 
  • Daniel 2:4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.”
  • Dan 5:10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change.
  • Dan 6:6, 21 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! … 21  Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!

4. Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 

  • Vernon McGee: Here is the beginning of the use of the word “so”.

5. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 

  • Nehemiah asks for a leave of absence that he might go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Note however that he did NOT mention Jerusalem because it might have carried negative connotations from the past. He said “the city of my fathers’ graves”.
  • The Persian rulers went to great expanse building tombs for their ancestors.
  • Nehemiah’s request to rebuild Jerusalem was bold in light of the king’s earlier decision to stop all construction on the project.
    • Ezra 4:12-16 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. 

  • The queen must concur too.

7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 

  • vv. 7-9 — Nehemiah makes further request for material assistance and protection, as a government official, along the route. An honor guard from the king accompanies Nehemiah.

8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

  • Nehemiah modeled both praying and planning.
    • PRAYING: He prayed before telling the king what his problems were.
    • PLANNING: Vs 6. [So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.] Nehemiah didn’t push too hard, he gave the king the time needed, to help the king feel good about what he was doing.
  • Ezra 5:5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.
  • Ezra 7:6, 9, 28  this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 28  and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

9 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 

  • VS 9. Some have criticized Nehemiah for allowing the protection from the King because Ezra would not allow it (Ezra 8:22-23). However, Nehemiah was not showing a lack of faith as some have suggested; no, he was showing his TRUST that this was part of God’s divine plan for protection from his enemies.

10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

  • The three leading enemies of Israel are grieved that Nehemiah has come to help his people. Here we go, the opposition has started. You will see this all through the book of Nehemiah.
  • We can be sure that as we pursue God’s purposes in our lives, we will face obstacles and that there will be individuals who oppose our efforts. We are called to persevere with concern for the purposes of God over the purposes of men.

As we now move to Chapter Two, verses 11 to 20, we start thinking how we handle obstacles and challenges in our lives. As you study the rest of this chapter, focus on the beauty of God’s work in our lives. As we go about our lives, are we optimistic, depending upon God and his sovereignty, or are we of little faith, and pessimistic? How we respond to those struggles reveals much about our faith.

11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days

  • three days: Nehemiah rested after his journey. Probably “planning” too.
  • vv. 11-16 — Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem, immediately makes a secret inspection of the damage, and estimates the extent of the job.
  • Ezra 8:32 We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days.

12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 

  • Most likely, Nehemiah took only a few men so as to avoid detection. Most likely Nehemiah limited the men also because some of the people were probably sympathetic to Sanballet and Tobiah. Other commentaries said that they were guards who were responsible for Nehemiah’s safety.
  • Nehemiah retained a bold confidence because God had given him the passion to complete the work.

13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 

  • The commentaries explain that Nehemiah made his way, one gate at a time, in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • VERSE 13 Dung Gate From the Valley Gate to the Dung Gate was a distance of about 1,500 feet (Neh 3:13). This was the southernmost gate, leading to the Hinnom Valley. It is probably to be identified as the Potsherd Gate mentioned in Jer 19:2.
  • were broken down. The gates and walls of Jerusalem were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 bc (2 Kgs 25:8–12).
    • 2 Kings 25:8-12 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 And he burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. 12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
  • King’s Pool – Possibly the Pool of Siloam. The Pool of Siloam was fed by an aqueduct created during the reign of Hezekiah that brought water from the Gihon spring.
  • 2 Chronicles 26:9 Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them.

14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 

  • no room: notice the condition of the walls, crumpled and destroyed, lots of debris, no room for men or animals to pass. Sometimes unexpected obstacles get in our path. Don’t give up, keep on going.
  • The Fountain Gate reportedly led to a water spring.
  • Nehemiah had to detour because of all the rubble. From there he proceeded on foot.

15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 

  • the valley The Kidron Valley, east of the city.
  • 2 Samuel 15:23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.
  • Jeremiah 31:40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

  • In verses 11 to 16, Nehemiah came in and inspected the reality of the situation.
  • He wanted to see with his eyes what God was calling him to do.
  • Once he examined and knew what the reality was, he cast a vision for what the future could look like.
  • Nehemiah’s final inspection of the walls provided him further important information to finalize his plans.
  • At this point, Nehemiah again emphasized that the project was entirely on his request; the officials still did not know where he had gone or what he was doing.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 

  • vv. 17, 18 — Then Nehemiah calls together the leaders of Israel and reveals his plan to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem. The people are encouraged to begin the undertaking.
  • Psalms 44:13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
  • Psalms 79:4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.
  • Jeremiah 24:9  I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.
  • Ezekiel 5:14-15 Moreover, I will make you a desolation and an object of reproach among the nations all around you and in the sight of all who pass by. 15 You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken—
  • Ezekiel 22:4 You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries.

18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 

  • Nehemiah found his purpose and calling to rebuild Jerusalem from the Lord his God.
  • Notice that Nehemiah said “Let us rise up and build”….Nehemiah made himself part of those he wished to enlist in the project. Good leaders lead by example and roll up their shirtsleeves along with the rest of them.
  • Nehemiah drew them a mental picture, showing them how they were in danger because they did not have any protection since the walls were destroyed.
  • Nehemiah also painted the vivid picture of Jerusalem in ruins along with its burned gates, thus appealing to the people’s sense of loyalty and obligation toward the city of their ancestors. Only then would Jerusalem’s citizens no longer be a disgrace.
  • 2 Samuel 2:7 Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 

  • The 3 enemies use the weapon of ridicule to deter the people from attempting the Herculean project of rebuilding the walls and gates.
  • Geshem … was a powerful chieftain of Qedar in Northwest Arabia. He was somewhat under the control of the Persians but had great freedom to govern over a confederation of Arab tribes that included Edom and the southern part of Judah.

20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

  • Notice that Nehemiah didn’t mention the king’s approval of his work, instead, he voiced his confidence in the God of heaven.
  • For the sake of the workers, Nehemiah’s response to this first oppositional strategy was important. His answers had three parts:
    1. He did not speak of his own authority, or even the king’s authority, but of his trust in the “God of heaven”.
    2. Nehemiah advised his people to ignore the ridicule and threats and simply work.
    3. He refused to compromise. He denied his opponents a share in the work, the land, or the worship of the Jewish community.
  • Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”


  • Because he heard from God, Nehemiah could speak for God.
  • Because he heard from God, his vision was clear, compelling, and included everyone.
  • His vision was right on, and so was his method for reaching his vision.
  • Nehemiah wasn’t trusting his own leadership or the skills of the people.
  • He was trusting in God alone.
  • Any vision of God is going to come with some opposition.
  • It’s not always as easy as it seems to live the vision God has given to you.
  • Nehemiah would experience opposition to his God-centered vision.


Verse 10: Sanballat the Horonite  – or Sanballat I â€“ was a Samaritan leader and official of the Achaemenid Empire of Greater Iran who lived in the mid to late 5th century BC and was a contemporary of Nehemiah.

He is best known from the Book of Nehemiah, which casts him as one of the chief opponents of the Jewish governor Nehemiah during the latter’s efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and carrying out his reforms among the Jews. In Jewish tradition, he was called “the Horonite,” (another possible “the Harranite”) and was associated with Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arabian. His home was evidently at Samaria.

According to Nehemiah, when he and his escort arrived in Jerusalem, their return aroused the enmity of Sanballat and his allies. They were aggrieved that the welfare of the Jews should be fostered. When Nehemiah actually disclosed his intention of building the walls of Jerusalem they laughed him to scorn, and said, “Will ye rebel against the king?” Nehemiah resented their insinuation, and told them that they had no right in Jerusalem, nor any interest in its affairs. As soon as Sanballat and his associates heard that Nehemiah and the Jews were actually building the walls, they were angry; and Sanballat addressed the army of Samaria with a contemptuous reference to “these feeble Jews.” Tobiah appeased him by saying that a fox (or a jackal) climbing on the wall they were building would break it down. Nehemiah and his builders, the Jews, vigorously hurried the work, while Sanballat and his associates organized their forces to fight against Jerusalem. Nehemiah prepared to meet the opposition and continued the work on the walls. Five different times Sanballat and his confederates challenged Nehemiah and the Jews to meet them for a parley in the plain of Ono. Nehemiah was equal to the emergency and attended strictly to his work. Then Sanballat, with Jews in Jerusalem who were his confederates, attempted to entrap Nehemiah in the Temple; but the scheme failed. Sanballat’s Jewish allies, however, kept Sanballat and Tobiah informed as to the progress of the work in Jerusalem. With the hand of the Lord upon Nehemiah along with Nehemiah’s far-sighted policy and his shrewdness, he was kept out of the hands of these neighbor-foes. In his reforms, so effectively carried out, he discovered that one of the grandsons of the current high priest Eliashib had married a daughter of this Sanballat, and was thus son-in-law of the chief enemy of the Jews. Nehemiah also found that Eliashib had leased the storerooms of the temple to Tobiah, thus depriving the Levites of their share of the offerings in Nehemiah’s absence. The high priest (and/or possibly his son Jehoida and the unnamed grandson) was driven out of Jerusalem on the ground that he had defiled the priesthood (Nehemiah 13:28).

VERSE 10: Tobiah the Ammonite

Opposition to Nehemiah’s rebuilding effort

Tobiah was an Ammomite official (possibly a governor of Ammon, possibly also of Jewish descent). He incited the Ammonites to hinder Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild Jerusalem.  He, along with Sanballat the Horonite and Geshem the Arabian, resorted to a stratagem and, pretending to wish a conference with Nehemiah, invited him to meet them at Ono, Benjamin. Four times they made the request, and every time Nehemiah refused to come. Their object was to frighten him from completing the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls and to do him some kind of harm.

Tobiah also had married a daughter of Shecaniah, a Judahite leader, and had given his son, Jehohanan, in marriage to the daughter of Meshullam, another Judahite leader, for ostensibly political purposes. Because of this, he somehow gained enough of a Judahite coalition to use the Judahites themselves to send letters to Nehemiah, telling him of Tobiah’s “good deeds” in an apparent attempt to weaken Nehemiah’s resolve to keep Tobiah out of the rebuilding effort. Tobiah meanwhile sent intimidating letters directly to Nehemiah.

Acquisition of the temple storerooms

Additionally, Tobiah exploited his relationship with High Priest Eliashib, whose grandson had married the daughter of Sanballat. He persuaded Eliashib to lease the storerooms of the temple to him, so that he could conduct business in the newly constructed temple. These storerooms had been intended for the Israelites’ grain offerings, incense, temple articles, and the tithes of grain, new wine and oil meant for the work of the temple and the temple workers themselves. Upon hearing this, Nehemiah, who was then in Babylon serving Artaxerxes I of Persia, requested permission to return to Judah. After returning, he promptly threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the temple room, purified the room, and put back all that had originally been there.

LASTLY….Lesson from the life of Nehemiah. Don’t pray to be comfortable in our circumstances; pray to be available and ready to do the will of God in every situation.

Chapter Three [return to top]

COMMENTS BEFORE CHAPTER THREE and FOUR: like the earlier reconstruction efforts under Zerubbabel and Ezra, Nehemiah’s rebuilding corps faces opposition both from without and within. As the walls begin to rise, so does opposition from leaders in surrounding provinces. For each problem, Nehemiah seeks – and finds – a God-honoring solution: Ridicule is handled with prayer; threats of violence are dealt with by adequate preparation; discouragement is met with a personal example in faith in God’s power.

A MAIN POINT in this chapter could be “God’s people must be faithful to the work He has called them to do.”

  • Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.

Rebuilding the Wall

NOTE 1: This chapter focuses on the rebuilding of the Jerusalem walls, and the 10 gates. The 10 gates of Jerusalem are:

(1) the Sheep Gate (vv. 1, 32); (2) the Fish Gate (v. 3); (3) the Jeshanah (or Old) Gate (v. 6); (4) the Valley Gate (v. 13); (5) the Dung Gate (v. 14); (6) the Fountain Gate (v. 15); (7) the Water Gate (v. 26); (8) the Horse Gate (v. 28); (9) the East Gate (v. 29); (10) and the Inspection (or Muster) Gate (v. 31). Since the gates were the most vulnerable sections of ancient walls, these were the most important segments of the project.

1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel.

  • Two things to notice here…the Sheep Gate:
    • The Sheep Gate was the gate were the sacrifices were held. So, it made sense that the priest take care of this area.
    • Notice that they “consecrated” this area…they set it apart for God.
  • John 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.
  • Jeremiah 31:38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
  • Zechariah 14:10 The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses.
  • The Tower of Hananeel (or Hananel; (God) is gracious”) is a tower in the walls of Jerusalem, adjoining the Tower of Meah (or Hammeah: “the Tower of the Hundred”) to the east connecting to the “sheep gate”. It is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:1 and Nehemiah 12:39 It is located on the northern wall section of the old city, near the northeastern corner, a point of the city always requiring special fortification and later the sites successively of the Hasmonean Baris and of the Antonia Fortress.

2 And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

  • Ezra 2:34 The sons of Jericho, 345.

3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

  • 2 Chronicles 33:14 Afterward he built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, and for the entrance into the Fish Gate, and carried it around Ophel, and raised it to a very great height. He also put commanders of the army in all the fortified cities in Judah.
  • Zephaniah 1:10 “On that day,” declares the Lord, “a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate a wail from the Second Quarter, a loud crash from the hills.

4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired.

5 And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.

6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River.

8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired.

10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired.

11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens.

12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David.

  • John 9:7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing

16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men.

  • 2 Kings 20:20 The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
  • Isaiah 22:10 and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.

17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district.

18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah.

19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress.

  • 2 Chronicles 26:9 Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them.

20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.

21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.

22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired.

23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house.

24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress

25 and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh

  • Jeremiah 32:2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.
  • Jeremiah 33:1 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard:
  • Jeremiah 37:21 So King Zedekiah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard. And a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower.

  • Ezra 2:43 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,
  • 2 Chronicles 27:3 He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord and did much building on the wall of Ophel.

27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house.

  • 2 Kings 11:16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.
  • 2 Chronicles 23:14 Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains who were set over the army, saying to them, “Bring her out between the ranks, and anyone who follows her is to be put to death with the sword.” For the priest said, “Do not put her to death in the house of the Lord.”
  • Jeremiah 31:40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

19 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired.

30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber.

31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner.

32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.


  • The 32 verses in Chapter Three offer just a snapshot of the group that worked on the wall.
  • Nehemiah organized those working on the wall to rebuild a section “near their home”.
  • Goldsmiths, perfumers, and priests were all building the wall together, but building was not their primary skill set.
  • What we should learn from this is sometimes God calls us to work outside our comfort zone. God equips each of us with spiritual gifts to do the work of his ministry, but, sometimes, we are to step outside our comfort zone and we should do so with zeal and an ignited spirit for God’s work.
  • ANOTHER GREAT reading about people working together is 1 Corinthians 12:27-27. The “one body, and has many members” lesson from Paul.

Chapter Four [return to top]

Notes on Chapter Four and Chapter Five: The Samaritan army makes the work of building the walls increasingly difficult, resulting in half the men provide security duty while the other half build. Nehemiah discovers that people are in bondage to one another, having borrowed money to pay taxes, and he calls them to repent.

Opposition to the Work – 443 B.C.

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives.

  • vv. 1-3 — As the work progresses, the enemy continues to use the weapon of ridicule. They make light of the zeal of the workmen and laugh at their workmanship, saying that even a nimble fox could knock down the wall.
  • vv. 4-6 — Nehemiah ignores their sarcasm and prays to God, but continues to build.
  • Psalms123:3-4 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. 4  Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.
  • Psalms 79:12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
  • Proverbs 3:34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

  • Psalms 83:3-5 They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. 4  They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” 5  For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant—

6 So we rebuilt the wall until all of it was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

7 When Sanballat and Tobiah, together with the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites, heard that the repair to the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and that the gaps were being closed, they were furious, 

  • vv. 7-9 — When the enemy sees that the wall is going up in spite of their ridicule, they become angry and decide to try to destroy the wall. Nehemiah continues to pray and build.

8 and all of them conspired to come and fight against Jerusalem and create a hindrance.

9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

  • Psalms 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

10 In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”

  • 10 — Opposition comes next from within their own ranks — discouragement in the presence of the huge undertaking and the threat of the enemy making a surprise attack. Nehemiah arms the workmen.

11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

  • Numbers 14:9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
  • Deuteronomy 1:29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them.
  • Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe
  • 2 Sam 10:12 Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

The Work Resumes

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.

  • Job 5:12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.

16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

  • Exodus 14:14, 25 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 25  clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
  • Deuteronomy 1:30 The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,
  • Deuteronomy 3:22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
  • Deuteronomy 20:4 for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’
  • Joshua 23:10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.

  • 23 — Nehemiah injects a humorous note by adding that they did not take off their clothes during this trying experience — except, of course, when they took a bath!

Chapter Five [return to top]

Notes on Chapter Four and Chapter Five: The Samaritan army makes the work of building the walls increasingly difficult, resulting in half the men provide security duty while the other half build. Nehemiah discovers that people are in bondage to one another, having borrowed money to pay taxes, and he calls them to repent.

Notes on Chapter Five and Chapter Six: With progress continuing on the rebuilding of the walls, Nehemiah’s opponents shift their attacks from direct confrontation to subtle conspiracy. Sanballat and Geshem repeatedly try to sidetrack Nehemiah from his God-given assignment. Even a false prophet arises to lead Nehemiah into a potentially fatal trap-only to have his plan foiled by Nehemiah’s keen discernment. In spite of loan sharks, espionage, deceit, and attempted assassination, Nehemiah and his dedicated band of bricklayers complete the city walls in less than two months-a feat even Israel’s enemies perceive is “accomplished by God“. And now come new responsibilities for Nehemiah. As governor, he appoints, delegates, organizes, and utilizes the new leadership in the newly built city.


  • We are called to respond when we see the gap between what is and what should be.
  • Anytime a nation turns its attention toward a large undertaking like a war or building project, other areas tend to suffer.
  • In Israel’s case, much of the focus had turned to rebuilding the wall, as well as defending that work, so it’s not surprising that an issue like caring for the poor was neglected.
  • Add this to a famine, and Nehemiah suddenly had a serous issue to deal with, this time coming from inside his camp.
  • Nehemiah’s example challenges us to confront sin courageously and make personal sacrifices for the good of others.

Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor

5 Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 1-5 — Some of their own brethren take advantage of the hard lot of others and give “help” by taking mortgages at excessive interest and also by buying their sons and daughters into slavery. This display of covetousness is the same as the idolatry which sent them into captivity.
  • Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!
  • Leviticus 25:35-37 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.
  • Deuteronomy 15:7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,

2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”

  • Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
  • Exodus 21:7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.
  • Leviticus 25:29 “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption.

6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them

  • Vernon McGee: 6-11 — Nehemiah is very angry when this is called to his attention, and he forces these greedy brethren to restore what they had taken.
  • Exodus 22:25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.
  • Leviticus 25:36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.
  • Ezekiel 22:12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.

8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say.

  • Leviticus 25:48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him,

9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?

  • Leviticus 25:36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.
  • 2 Samuel 12:14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”
  • Romans 2:24  For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
  • 1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised.

  • Ezra 10:5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.
  • Jeremiah 34:8-9 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, 9 that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother.

13 I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

  • Matthew 10:14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
  • Acts 13:51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
  • Acts 18:6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
  • 2 Kings 23:3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

FINAL COMMENTARY NOTES VERSES 1-13. The business men were legal in their business interactions, loaning money and charging interest, they were not breaking the law. BUT, due to the current situation, where all the men were trying to rebuild the temple walls, the business men were taking advantage of the poor and demanding payment in light of the severe economic situation.


  • Despite the power he was given, Nehemiah treated people in a way that honored God.
  • In Nehemiah’s day, internal injustices threatened to compromise the rebuilding task. Nehemiah had to deal with these problems quickly and decisively.
  • As we serve God, we may also be called on to address injustices that come to our attention.
  • Stepping up to serve the Lord does not give us permission to mistreat others.
  • Indeed, as we will see in verses 14 to 19, as we serve God, we need to make fair treatment of others a priority.

Nehemiah’s Generosity
14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 14-19 — Nehemiah, on a leave of absence from his position as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, had refused to accept the salary formerly paid to the governor of Israel, which came from taxing the people. His example should have been an inspiration and example to his brethren.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:4, 15 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.

15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.

  • 2 Corinthians 11:9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us.

  • 2 Samuel 9:7 And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”
  • 1 Kings 18:19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

  • 1 Kings 4:22 Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal,

Chapter Six [return to top]

Notes on Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, and Chapter Eight. Nehemiah experiences more opposition from the neighboring foes, yet the wall is completed incredibly in just 52 days. Nehemiah gives the genealogy of Jews who have returned to Jerusalem and they celebrate the completion of the work.

Conspiracy Against Nehemiah

6 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm.

  • Vernon McGee vv. 1-3 — The enemies (Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem) hear that the wall is completed, but Nehemiah honestly admits the report is a bit exaggerated (the gates are not set up). The enemy reverses the opposition. Since they could not stop the work, they now propose to get together with Nehemiah and work out a compromise. However, their intention is not to promote the welfare of Nehemiah. This is the satanic method of “when you can’t beat them, join them.” Today it is called the ecumenical movement. Nehemiah properly turns it down and for the 14th time inserts the little word “so” that tells us much.
  • Proverbs 26:24-25 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; 25  when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart;
  • Psalms 37:12, 32 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, 32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.

3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.

  • Vernon McGee: v. 4 — The enemy approaches Nehemiah 4 times. It is interesting to note (v. 2) the name of the village where they proposed to meet — Ono. That is Nehemiah’s answer, “O, no!”

5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 5-7 — On the 5th approach to Nehemiah, they insert a subtle pressure to force him to meet with them. They circulate a false report that Nehemiah is attempting to rebel against Persia and set up a separate state. Gashmu (the gossip) is spreading the report (v. 6).

6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

  • Vernon McGee vv. 9-14 — The enemy then hires false prophets to make Nehemiah and the people afraid.

10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

  • Ezekiel 12:22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’?

13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

  • Ezekiel 13:17 “And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. Prophesy against them


  • The wall is finished but opposition still existed.
  • The best defense was for God’s people to continue to follow Him in faithfulness.
  • As we read the end of Chapter Six, we learn that the rebuilding of the wall was complete. However, this didn’t solve all their problems.
  • They still faced opposition.
  • Israel had to continue to be vigilant in following the Lord in faithfulness.

The Wall Is Finished

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.

  • Vernon McGee vv. 15-19 — Without fanfare of trumpets, great ceremony or ribbon cutting, the wall is finished. The brief, expressive word “so” tells the story — “So the wall was finished” (v. 15). The enemy still persists in its opposition by circulating letters to the nobles of Judah, as Tobiah had evidently married a daughter of one of the nobles.

16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.

  • Psalms 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
  • fell greatly in their own esteem” … Original text indicates “were much cast down in their own eyes.”

17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

  • Tobiah had married the daughter of Shecaniah son of Arah.
  • Tobiah’s son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.
  • These Jewish connections indicate that Tobiah enjoyed a great deal of influence among it’s leaders and wealthy residents.
  • Unlike Sanballat, Tobiah was NOT an outsider.
  • Tobiah’s efforts to oppose Nehemiah were more subtle than an army coming to attack the new wall.
  • He infiltrated Judah’s ranks and built ties with influential people.
  • He did these things to undermine Nehemiah’s leadership, and Nehemiah knew it.

Chapter Seven [return to top]

Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 1-4 — Nehemiah, having finished the wall, gives Hanani and Hananiah charge of Jerusalem. He instructs them to keep the gates closed at certain times to prevent the enemy from entering. “Eternal vigilance” is the price of Christian liberty.
  • Nehemiah put Godly men in charge of Security. He also gave them instructions on how to protect the city.
  • Exodus 18:21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.
  • gatekeepers = See Ezra 2:42 and 1 Chronicles 9:17-19. Gatekeepers normally guarded the temple gates, but because of the danger in the city, they were appointed to stand guard at the city gates along with the singers and the Levites.

3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.” 4 The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.

  • Vs 3. The gates were to be shut and bolted before the guards went off duty.

Lists of Returned Exiles

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 5-73 — This is a repetition of the genealogy given in Ezra 2. Unnecessary though this may seem to us, it is repeated because it is important to God and He challenges us to read it. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance” (Psalm 112:6). God never forgets the faithful. This chapter comes from the book of eternity.

5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it:

  • The wall was only the first step in the rebuilding process
  • Jerusalem was still a desolate place and sparsely populated
  • God put it in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the spiritual integrity and development of the Hebrew community, not just the physical city.
  • The census prompted the gathering of the people for registration so each family could prove their lineage, a process which would encourage Jews to move back to Jerusalem.

6 These were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town.

  • Ezra 2:1 Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.
  • Commentaries note that verses 6-25 are “Families”; verses 26 to 28 are “Villagers; and verses 29 to 42 are Priests; and verse 43 is Levites; and verses 44 to 60 are the Temple Staff; verses 61 to 65 are individuals without evidence of genealogies.

7 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 8 the sons of Parosh, 2,172. 9 The sons of Shephatiah, 372. 10 The sons of Arah, 652. 11 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818. 12 The sons of Elam, 1,254. 13 The sons of Zattu, 845. 14 The sons of Zaccai, 760. 15 The sons of Binnui, 648. 16 The sons of Bebai, 628. 17 The sons of Azgad, 2,322. 18 The sons of Adonikam, 667. 19 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067. 20 The sons of Adin, 655. 21 The sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, 98. 22 The sons of Hashum, 328. 23 The sons of Bezai, 324. 24 The sons of Hariph, 112. 25 The sons of Gibeon, 95. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188. 27 The men of Anathoth, 128. 28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, 42. 29 The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, 621. 31 The men of Michmas, 122. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123. 33 The men of the other Nebo, 52. 34 The sons of the other Elam, 1,254. 35 The sons of Harim, 320. 36 The sons of Jericho, 345. 37 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721. 38 The sons of Senaah, 3,930. 39 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, namely the house of Jeshua, 973.

  • 1 Chronicles 24:7 The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,

40 The sons of Immer, 1,052.

  • 1 Chronicles 24:14 the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,

41 The sons of Pashhur, 1,247. 42 The sons of Harim, 1,017.

  • 1 Chronicles 24:8 The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,

43 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, namely of Kadmiel of the sons of Hodevah, 74.

  • Ezra 2:40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74.
  • Ezra 3:9 And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.

44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138. 46 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47 the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, 48 the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai, 49 the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50 the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51 the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52 the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim, 53 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54 the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha. 57 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, 58 the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon. 60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.
61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel:

  • Ezra 2:59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel:

62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.

Totals of People and Gifts

66 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female. 68 Their horses were 736, their mules 245, 69 their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720. 70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas of silver. 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 And what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver, and 67 priests’ garments. 73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns. And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns

  • Ezra 3:1 When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem.
  • Nehemiah was sensitive to the long-term needs of the community.
  • Jerusalem would not have been safe if it was underpopulated.
  • Apparently some of the people preferred to live in the surrounding villages and not in Jerusalem.
  • The genealogical list is used to choose those who would live in Jerusalem.
  • It is important to show that this community, those small and weak, furthered God’s plan for Israel.
  • It was important that members of the community be valued as individuals by God, and to be sure of their genealogy.
  • To God, each individual and each family is significant.
  • Inhabitants were not simply lumped together with a single identity.
  • Instead, valuable space in Scripture was given to otherwise unknown families and individuals.
  • The people needed to recognize their roots in the pre-exilic Israelite community as a reassurance that they were the continuation of God’s redemptive plan, and that God would not forsake them.
  • Through this community and their descendants, we have the Scriptures; and through this community, Jesus Christ came into the world.
  • Even though the community was practically unnoticed in the world at the time, they constituted the center of God’s redemptive plan.

Chapter Eight [return to top]

443 BC

Note 1: The first half of the book of Nehemiah teaches valuable lessons about working for God; the second half emphasizes worshiping God. Beginning with Chapter 8 the account becomes biographical rather than autobiographical (no longer is it in the first person, “I”). Now it centers on the spiritual rather than physical wellbeing of the people. The public reading and explanation of God’s Word brings a sweeping revival to the city. Rejoicing at the sound of God’s precious laws preached by Ezra the priest, the people respond with prayers and confession, worship to God, and a fresh resolve to live godly lives in keeping with their commitment.

Note 2: Ezra and his assistants read from “the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.” (Nehemiah 8:8). After their years of exile, many of the Jews no longer understood Hebrew, requiring interpretation an explanation in Aramaic – the language of the common people.

Vernon McGee: II. REVIVAL and REFORM, Chapters 8 — 13

Ezra Reads the Law
1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 1-6 — Ezra stands upon a pulpit of wood before the water gate. (The Word of God is spiritual water.) Ezra reads in the Law of Moses from morning until noon.
  • Ezra 3:1 When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem.

2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month.

  • Deuteronomy 31:11-12 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,
  • Leviticus 23:24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.

3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.

  • Judges 3:20 And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat.

6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
  • Lamentations 3:41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:
  • 1 Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
  • Exodus 4:31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.
  • Exodus 12:27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ â€ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.

7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 7, 8 — Ezra evidently reads a portion and then the Levites, scattered in the crowd, explain it to the people. (Note: The method used here is still God’s method. The Word is to be read distinctly and explained so that the people can understand it.)
  • Leviticus 10:11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.”
  • Deuteronomy 33:10 They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
  • 2 Chronicles 17:7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah;
  • Malachi 2:7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
This Day Is Holy
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 9-12 — Many people are overcome with emotion as they had never before heard the Word of God. They weep. Nehemiah urges the people not to weep but to rejoice. Here is the source of Christian strength, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (8:10).
  • Ezra 2:63 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.
  • Leviticus 23:24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
  • Numbers 29:1 “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work.
  • Deuteronomy 16:14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  • This verse is important because it links the ministries of Nehemiah and Ezra. Many critical scholars regard the mention of these great leaders together as an anachronistic attempt to link together the ministries of two men who, according to these scholars, were not contemporaries. Yet there are no insurmountable problems, either textually or historically, that preclude the historicity of this event. Admittedly it seems odd that Nehemiah makes no mention of Ezra, a man of such prominence, until this point in the narrative. This does not necessarily mean that Ezra was not there. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries who both prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah, yet neither mentions the other. Here the author clearly attests to a joint ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah, who participated together in the covenant renewal (chaps. 8–10) and took part together in the great procession and dedication of the walls of Jerusalem (12:27-43). The command, “Do not mourn or weep,” seems baffling since the leaders would have been encouraged by the contrition and repentance of the people. However, this dedication of the wall occurred on the “first day of the seventh month” (v. 2) during the New Year celebration. The feast days were to be days of joy (Lev. 23:24; Deut. 12:12; 16:11), not mourning.

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

  • Esther 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.
  • Revelation 11:10  and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.
  • Rather than mourning, the people were commanded to go and “eat what is rich, drink what is sweet.” The term “rich” translates a Hebrew word found in the Old Testament only here in this verse but clearly related to the verb “to make fat, to be fat.” It refers to choice foods appropriate for a celebration. The “sweet” drink mentioned here may have been wine mixed with honey, a popular drink long before the time of Christ. The people were to stop grieving because their strength came from the joy of the Lord . True security was found in Yahweh alone.

11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

  • The peace offering, or fellowship offering, explained in Lev 3 was often accompanied by a meal. Most of the meat of the offering was eaten by the one who offered the sacrifice. The peace offering, or fellowship offering, is mentioned together with feasting in 2 Sam 6:18–19; 1 Chr 29:22; 2 Chr 30:21–26. Here, too, there may have been a combination of fellowship offering and fellowship meal. Some must have prepared it, but they were to share with those who did not have it prepared, perhaps in some cases because they were too poor. The day was “sacred” and deserved to be celebrated. God calls his people to the celebration of new life (Luke 19:1–10). One’s faith is optimistic because of God’s power. Real joy is an expression of faith in what God can do and is doing.

COMMENT: As we move into Chapter 8, verses 13 to 18, we discuss “celebration“. Because of God’s call to obey His commands, some people view Christianity as somber and joyless. However, nothing could be further from the truth. God’s Word calls us to repentance and obedience, but it also calls us to celebrate! In Nehemiah 8, verses 13 to 18, we’ll see that when the people learned from God’s Word that they should be observing the Festival of Booths, they got right to it. God created us and it brings Him joy when we celebrate Him and His goodness in our lives.

Feast of Booths Celebrated
13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,

  • Leviticus 23:34, 42 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths,
  • Deuteronomy 16:13 You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress.

15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.”

  • Leviticus 23:4 These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.
  • Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths.
  • Leviticus 23:40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.

16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim.

  • Deuteronomy 22:8 “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.
  • 2 Kings 14:13  And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate.

17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing.

  • 2 Chronicles 30:21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with all their might to the Lord.

18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

  • Deuteronomy 31:10 And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths,
  • Leviticus 23:36 For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.

COMMENTS on verses 13 to 18: When the Jews heard this Law read, they recognized they were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. They immediately responded by building booths and obeying what they had learned from God’s Word. Obedience to God is evidence of love for Him and relationship with Him. Obedience to God’s Word affirms our belief in the truth of His Word and is evidence of love for God. Those who hear God’s Word should listen attentively and then obey the Word. Lives are changed and communities are impacted when people hear and understand God’s Word.

Chapter Nine [return to top]

Notes for Chapter Nine, Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, and Chapter Twelve. Nehemiah records the remnant of the Jews’ formal repentance of past sins and promise to keep God’s commandments. He also provides list of overseers and priests, and the walls of Jerusalem are dedicated.

Vernon McGee: Revival — the result, Chapters 9, 10

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin
 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 1-3 — The ingredients and order of revival are important. Reading the Word of God (studying and understanding it) is essential and basic. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes reveal their attitude and sincerity. Confession and worship follow.
  • Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads.
  • 1 Samuel 4:12  A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head.
  • 2 Samuel 1:2 And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage.
  • Job 2:12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.

2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

  • Ezra 10:11 Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”

3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. 4 On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 4-38 — This is a great prayer of confession — praise and adoration of God as Creator (vv. 5, 6); praise and adoration because of His providential dealings with Israel; recitation and reminder of their long history. (Stephen recited this same history in Acts 7, but it led to murder, not to revival; to his condemnation, not to their confession.) Note the confession of their sins (vv. 34-38).

5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

  • 1 Chronicles 29:13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

6  “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

  • 2 Kings 19:15, 19 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 19 So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”
  • Psalms 86:10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
  • Isaiah 37:16, 20 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”
  • Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
  • Exodus 20:11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  • Revelation 14:7 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.
  • 1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!
  • Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2
  • Psalms 36:6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.

7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham.

  • Genesis 11:31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.
  • Genesis 17:5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

  • Genesis 15:18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
  • Joshua 23:14 “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.

9 â€œAnd you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea,

  • Exodus 2:25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
  • Exodus 14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.

10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day.

  • Exodus 18:11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”
  • Jeremiah 32:20 You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day.

11 And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters.

  • Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
  • Exodus 15:5 The floods covered them they went down into the depths like a stone.

12 By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go.

  • Exodus 13:21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments,

  • Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
  • Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant.

  • Genesis 2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

  • Exodus 16:14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.
  • Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.
  • Deuteronomy 1:8 See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’
  • Numbers 14:30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

16 â€œBut they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments.

  • Psalms 106:6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
  • Deuteronomy 31:27 For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death!

17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

  • Psalms 78:11 They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.
  • Numbers 14:4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
  • Joel 2:13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies,

  • Exodus 32:4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.

  • Psalms 106:45 For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,

20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.

  • Numbers 11:17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.
  • Exodus 16:15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.
  • Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

  • Deuteronomy 2:7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” â€™
  • Deuteronomy 8:4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.

22 â€œAnd you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan.

  • Numbers 21:21 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, 22 â€œLet me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into field or vineyard. We will not drink the water of a well. We will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.”

23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.

  • Genesis 22:17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,

24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.

  • Joshua 1:2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.
  • Psalms 44:2,3 you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; 3  for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.

25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

  • Numbers 13:27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
  • Deuteronomy 6:11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full,
  • Deuteronomy 32:15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
  • Hosea 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

26 â€œNevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.

  • Judges 2:11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.
  • 1 Kings 14:9 but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back,
  • Psalms 50:17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
  • 1 Kings 18:14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here” â€™; and he will kill me.”

27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies.

  • Judges 2:14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies.
  • Psalms 106:41 he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them.
  • Psalms 106:44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry
  • Judges 2:18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.

28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies.

  • Judges 3:11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
  • Psalms 106:43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity.

29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey.

  • Leviticus 18:5 You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.
  • Romans 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
  • Galatians 3:12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

  • 2 Kings 17:13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
  • 2 Chronicles 36:15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.
  • Jeremiah 7:25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day.
  • Acts 7:51 You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
  • 1 Peter 1:11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
  • Isaiah 5:5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.

31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

  • Jeremiah 4:27 For thus says the Lord, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

32 â€œNow, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day.

  • Exodus 34:6,7 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
  • 2 Kings 17:3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute.

33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.

  • Psalms 119:137 Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.
  • Daniel 9:14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice.
  • Psalms 106:6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
  • Daniel 9:5, 6, 8 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.

34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves.

  • Deuteronomy 28:48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.
  • Ezra 9:9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.

37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.

  • Deuteronomy 28:33, 51 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 51 It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.

38  “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.

  • 2 Kings 23:3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.
  • 2 Chronicles 29:10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.”
  • Ezra 10:3 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law.

Chapter Ten [return to top]

443 BC

Vernon McGee: Chapter 10 — The people make and sign a covenant to serve God. Reform — another result, Chapters 11 — 13

The People Who Sealed the Covenant
  “On the seals are the names of Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8 Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah; these are the priests. 9 And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; 10 and their brothers, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14 The chiefs of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, Baanah.
The Obligations of the Covenant
28 â€œThe rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding,

  • Ezra 2:36-43 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, 973. 37 The sons of Immer, 1,052. 38 The sons of Pashhur, 1,247. 39 The sons of Harim, 1,017. 40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. 41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. 42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, in all 139. 43 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,
  • Ezra 9:1 After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

29 join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes.

  • Deuteronomy 29:12 so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today,
  • Psalms 119:106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.
  • 2 Kings 23:3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.
  • 2 Chronicles 34:31 And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.

30 We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.

  • Exodus 34:16 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.
  • Deuteronomy 7:3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons,
  • Ezra 9:12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’

31 And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

  • Exodus 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
  • Leviticus 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
  • Deuteronomy 5:12 “ â€˜Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.
  • Exodus 23:10 For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield,
  • Leviticus 25:4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.
  • Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.

32 â€œWe also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.

  • Leviticus 24:5 You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf.
  • 2 Chronicles 2:4 Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel.

34 We, the priests, the Levites, and the people, have likewise cast lots for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law.

  • Isaiah 40:16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
  • Leviticus 6:12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.

35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord;

  • Exodus 23:19 “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
  • Leviticus 19:23 “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden.
  • Numbers 18:12 All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the firstfruits of what they give to the Lord, I give to you.

36 also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks;

  • Exodus 13:2, 12, 13 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
  • Leviticus 27:26, 27 “But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s. 27 And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation.
  • Numbers 18:15, 16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the Lord, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. 16 And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.

37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor.

  • Leviticus 23:17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord.
  • Numbers 15:19 and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall present a contribution to the Lord.
  • Numbers 18:12 All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the firstfruits of what they give to the Lord, I give to you.
  • Deuteronomy 18:4 The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him.
  • Deuteronomy 26:2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.
  • Leviticus 27:30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.
  • Numbers 18:21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,

38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

  • Numbers 18:26 Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe.
  • 1 Chronicles 9:26  for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God.
  • 2 Chronicles 31:12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second,

39 For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

  • Deuteronomy 12:6, 11 and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 11 then to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the Lord.
  • 2 Chronicles 31:12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second,

Chapter Eleven [return to top]

443 BC

Overview Chapters 11, 12, and 13: With the walls in place and the spiritual condition of the nation revived, Nehemiah now sets about the task of consolidating and organizing the population. One-tenth of the people are chosen by lot to relocate within the city walls, while the rest remain in the suburb. The walls are formally dedicated and temple officers commissioned to oversee the functions of national worship. After an extended leave of absence, Nehemiah returns from Babylon to find Tobiah living in a temple storeroom, and the people displaying a shocking disregard for God’s laws concerning marriage and the Sabbath. Assuming again the role of reformer, Nehemiah labors to restore national purity.

Vernon McGee: Chapter 11 — The rulers cast lots to see who is to dwell in
Jerusalem and who is to live elsewhere in the land.

The Leaders in Jerusalem
 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns.

  • Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple
  • Matthew 27:53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.

  • Judges 5:9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord.

3 These are the chiefs of the province who lived in Jerusalem; but in the towns of Judah everyone lived on his property in their towns: Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon’s servants.

  • 1 Chronicles 9:2, 3 Now the first to dwell again in their possessions in their cities were Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants. 3 And some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem:
  • Ezra 2:43 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,
  • Ezra 2:55 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda,

4 And in Jerusalem lived certain of the sons of Judah and of the sons of Benjamin. Of the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez;

  • 1 Chronicles 9:3 And some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem:
  • Genesis 38:29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez.

5 and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, son of the Shilonite. 6 All the sons of Perez who lived in Jerusalem were 468 valiant men.
7 And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his brothers, men of valor, 928. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer; and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second over the city.
10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin,

  • 1 Chronicles 9:10 Of the priests: Jedaiah, Jehoiarib, Jachin,

11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, ruler of the house of God, 12 and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah, 13 and his brothers, heads of fathers’ houses, 242; and Amashsai, the son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, mighty men of valor, 128; their overseer was Zabdiel the son of Haggedolim.
15 And of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God;

  • 1 Chronicles 26:29 Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were appointed to external duties for Israel, as officers and judges.

17 and Mattaniah the son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, who was the leader of the praise, who gave thanks, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brothers; and Abda the son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city were 284. 19 The gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brothers, who kept watch at the gates, were 172. 20 And the rest of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, every one in his inheritance. 21 But the temple servants lived on Ophel; and Ziha and Gishpa were over the temple servants. 22 The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the sons of Asaph, the singers, over the work of the house of God. 23 For there was a command from the king concerning them, and a fixed provision for the singers, as every day required.

  • Ezra 6:8, 9 Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. 9 And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail,
  • Ezra 7:20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.

24 And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the sons of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king’s side in all matters concerning the people.

  • Genesis 38:30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
  • 1 Chronicles 18:17 and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.
  • 1 Chronicles 23:28 For their duty was to assist the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, having the care of the courts and the chambers, the cleansing of all that is holy, and any work for the service of the house of God.

Villages Outside Jerusalem
25 And as for the villages, with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath-arba and its villages, and in Dibon and its villages, and in Jekabzeel and its villages,

  • Joshua 14:15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.

26 and in Jeshua and in Moladah and Beth-pelet, 27 in Hazar-shual, in Beersheba and its villages, 28 in Ziklag, in Meconah and its villages, 29 in En-rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and its fields, and Azekah and its villages. So they encamped from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom. 31 The people of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, 32 Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35 Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.

  • 1 Chronicles 4:14 Meonothai fathered Ophrah; and Seraiah fathered Joab, the father of Ge-harashim, so-called because they were craftsmen.

36 And certain divisions of the Levites in Judah were assigned to Benjamin.

Chapter Twelve [return to top]

443 BC

Priests and Levites
 These are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

  • Ezra 2:1, 2 Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. 2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,

  • Luke 1:5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua.

  • Ezra 3:3 They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening.
  • Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:
  • Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

8 And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 And Bakbukiah and Unni and their brothers stood opposite them in the service. 10 And Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.
12 And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers’ houses: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; 15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; 18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
22 In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the Levites were recorded as heads of fathers’ houses; so too were the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 As for the sons of Levi, their heads of fathers’ houses were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

  • 1 Chronicles 9:14 Of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari;

24 And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch.

  • Ezra 3:11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. 26 These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra, the priest and scribe.

  • Ezra 7:6, 11 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. 11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel:

Dedication of the Wall
27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

  • Deuteronomy 20:5 Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it.
  • 1 Chronicles 25:6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.
  • 2 Chronicles 1:13 So Solomon came from the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem. And he reigned over Israel.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:6 The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.

28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; 29 also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.
31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate. 32 And after them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, 33 and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35 and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph;

  • Numbers 10:2, 8 “Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations.

36 and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them.

  • 1 Chronicles 23:5 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the Lord with the instruments that I have made for praise.”

37 At the Fountain Gate they went up straight before them by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.
38 The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard.

  • 2 Kings 14:13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate.
  • Jeremiah 32:2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.

40 So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; 41 and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

  • Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
  • Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Service at the Temple
44 On that day men were appointed over the storerooms, the contributions, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the Law for the priests and for the Levites according to the fields of the towns, for Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered.

  • 2 Chronicles 31:11, 12 Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare chambers in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them. 12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second,

45 And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. 46 For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

  • 1 Chronicles 25:1 David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was:

47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.

  • Numbers 28:21, 24, 26 a tenth shall you offer for each of the seven lambs; 24 In the same way you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. It shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 26 â€œOn the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work,

Chapter Thirteen [return to top]

  • 432 BC

Notes on Chapter Thirteen: Nehemiah removes Tobiah from the Temple, a leader who had been living there. Nehemiah helps the Levites suffering neglect and prays that the work is preserved.

Vernon McGee: Chapter 13 — Nehemiah, who had returned to Persia, comes again
to Jerusalem and institutes reforms.

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,

  • Deuteronomy 31:11, 12 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,
  • 2 Kings 23:2 And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.
  • Isaiah 34:16 Seek and read from the book of the Lord: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of the Lord has commanded, and his Spirit has gathered them.
  • Deuteronomy 23:3, 4 No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.

2 for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.

  • Numbers 22:5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me.
  • Joshua 24:9, 10 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand.
  • Numbers 23:11 And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.”
  • Numbers 24:10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times.
  • Deuteronomy 23:5 But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you.

3 As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.

  • they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent = KEY POINT here. You must always interpret scripture WITH scripture. Remember that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were once ONE BOOK, not two books. Ezra 6:21 explains that some foreigners converted to Judaism, and those foreigners were not separated.
    • Ezra 6:21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel.

4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, 5 prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.

  • Numbers 18:21, 24 To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting, 24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.”

6 While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king 7 and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. 8 And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. 9 Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

  • 2 Chronicles 29:5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.

10 I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 10-14 — The Levites had not been paid. Nehemiah forces the rulers to see that the Levites receive their portion.
  • Malachi 3:8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.
  • Numbers 35:2 Command the people of Israel to give to the Levites some of the inheritance of their possession as cities for them to dwell in. And you shall give to the Levites pasturelands around the cities.

11 So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers.

  • 2 Chronicles 31:12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second,
  • 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.
15 In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 15-22 — The Sabbath day is observed. Men of Tyre bring fish to sell in Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah forces them to leave and orders the gates of Jerusalem to be closed on the Sabbath.
  • Exodus 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
  • Jeremiah 17:21 Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem.

16 Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! 17 Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

  • Jeremiah 17:21 Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem.

19 As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day.

  • Leviticus 23:32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
  • Jeremiah 17:21 Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem.

20 Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.
23 In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab.

  • Vernon McGee: vv. 23-31 — Intermarriage among the heathen is still practiced. Nehemiah uses extreme means (v. 25) to force them not to intermarry. (Verse 28 would be humorous if it were not so serious.) Note the humility and dedication of Nehemiah in his desire to please and to serve God (vv. 14, 31).
  • Ezra 9:2 For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.”

24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.

  • Ezra 10:5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.

  • 1 Kings 11:1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,
  • 2 Samuel 12:24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him
  • 1 Kings 11:4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

27 Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?”

  • Ezra 10:2  And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.

28 And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

  • Malachi 2:4, 11, 12 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.
Remember me, O my God, for good.

June 4, 2016

1 Samuel – start date 6.4.2016

Filed under: Old Testament — Adam Osborne @ 9:43 am

Vernon McGee, The two Books of Samuel are classified as one book in the Jewish canon and should be considered as such. In the Latin Vulgate they are the first of four Books of Kings. Our title identifies the name of Samuel with these first two historical books. This is not because he is the writer, although we do believe that he is the writer of a good portion of it. It is because his story occurs first, and he figures prominently as the one who poured the anointing oil on both Saul and David. Samuel, then, is considered the writer of 1 Samuel up to the twenty–fifth chapter, which records his death. Apparently, Nathan and Gad completed the writing of these books. We learn this from 1 Samuel 10:25 and 1 Chronicles 29:29.

The Books of Samuel contain many familiar features. We read of the rise of the kingdom of Israel. There is also the story of Hannah and her little boy Samuel. Recorded in these books is the story of David and Goliath and the unusual and touching friendship of David and Jonathan. We have the account of King Saul’s visit to the witch of En–dor, and 2 Samuel 7—one of the great chapters of the Word of God—gives us God’s covenant with David. Finally, we have the record of David’s great sin with Bathsheba and of the rebellion of his son Absalom.

In the Book of Judges we find that God used little people, many of whom had some serious fault or defect. Their stories are a great encouragement to those of us today who are little people. However, in 1 and 2 Samuel we meet some really outstanding folk: Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David. We will become acquainted with each of them as we go through these books.

There are three subjects that may be considered themes of the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel. Prayer is the first. First Samuel opens with prayer, and 2 Samuel closes with prayer. And there’s a great deal of prayer in between. A second theme is the rise of the kingdom. We have recorded in these books the change in the government of Israel from a theocracy to a kingdom. Of great significance is God’s covenant with David given to us in 2 Samuel 7. We will comment further on the kingdom in a moment. The third theme is the rise of the office of prophet. When Israel was a theocracy, God moved through the priesthood. However, when the priests failed and a king was anointed, God set the priests aside and raised up the prophets as His messengers. We will find that for the nation of Israel this resulted in deterioration rather than improvement.

The rise of the kingdom is of particular importance. First and Second Samuel record the origin of this kingdom, which continues as a very important subject throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The first message of the New Testament was the message of John the Baptist: “… Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). The kingdom of which he spoke is the kingdom of the Old Testament, the kingdom that begins in the Books of Samuel. This kingdom we find has a very historical basis, an earthly origin, and geographical borders. This kingdom has a king, and its subjects are real people.

God’s chosen form of government is a kingdom ruled by a king. Yet to change the form of our government today would not solve our problems. It is not the form that is bad—it is the people connected with it. But a kingdom is God’s ideal, and He intends to put His King on the throne of this earth someday. When Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, rules this world it will be very unlike the job men are doing today. There will be no need for a poverty program, an ecological program, or for moral reforms. Rather, there will be righteousness and peace covering this earth like the waters cover the sea.

In these books the coming millennial Kingdom is foreshadowed in several respects; and in the setting up of the kingdom of Israel we observe three things that our world needs: (1) a king with power who exercises that power in righteousness; (2) a king who will rule in full dependence upon God; and (3) a king who will rule in full obedience to God. The Lord Jesus Christ, the coming King of kings, is the very One the world so desperately needs today.

(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 12: 1 & 2 Samuel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)

Notes and Outlines, Vernon McGee,

Dr. J. Vernon McGee

1 & 2 SAMUEL

I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. (Hosea 13:11)

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel give us the origin of the kingdom. The two books of Samuel were classified as one in the Jewish canon. They are the first two of four books of Kings in the Latin Vulgate.

WRITER: The name of Samuel is identified with these two historical books, not because he was the writer primarily, but because his story occurs first and is so prominent. He anointed as king both Saul and David. Samuel is considered the author up to 1 Samuel 25 (his death). Nathan and Gad completed the writing (1 Chronicles 29:29 ASV).


1. The rise of the kingdom.
2. The story of Hannah.
3. The story of little Samuel.
4. The story of David and Goliath.
5. The friendship of David and Jonathan.
6. King Saul’s visit to witch of Endor.
7. God’s covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7.
8. David’s great sin — Bathsheba.
9. David’s rebellious son — Absalom.


Prayer — 1 Samuel opens with prayer; 2 Samuel closes with prayer.

Kingdom — The change of the government from a theocracy to a kingdom; God’s covenant with David.

Prophet — The rise of the office of prophet, who became the messenger of God in place of the priest.

KEY VERSE: 1 Samuel 10:25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

COMMENT: There is a striking contrast between the characters in the Book of Judges and those in the two books of Samuel. The men in Judges seem to be ordinary and average, while here the characters are outstanding and above the average. There are 6 who stand out in 1 Samuel. They are Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David. First Samuel is a transitional book from the era of the judges to the kingdom.

The kingdom foreshadows the coming millennial kingdom in some respects. There are certain profound global lessons for us in the setting up of the kingdom.

The world needs:
1. A king with power who exercises his power righteously;
2. A king who will be in full dependence upon God and who can be
trusted with power; and
3. A king who is in full obedience to God.

1 Samuel 15:22 — Samuel’s word about obedience

1 Samuel 25:29 — Abigail’s word about David’s relationship to God

2 Samuel 3:33 — Abner’s epitaph

2 Samuel 7 — God’s covenant with David (note the 7 “I wills”)

2 Samuel 18:33 — David’s grief over Absalom

2 Samuel 22 — Song of David (Psalm 18)

2 Samuel 24:24 — David’s rebuke against a cheap religion

I. SAMUEL: God’s prophet, priest, and judge, Chapters 1 — 8

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 — This First Book of Samuel opens with a cry of a godly woman. While the people cry for a king, Hannah cries for a child. God builds the throne on a woman’s cry. When woman takes her exalted place, God builds her a throne.

Eli, the high priest, thinks Hannah is drunk as she prays before the tabernacle in Shiloh. When he discovers her true anxiety is for a child, he blesses her. Samuel is born to Hannah and she brings him to Eli in fulfillment of her vow.


The Birth of Samuel

1Sa 1:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:

Ramathaimzophim: This ancient town, now called Ramla, is, according to Phocas, about thirty-six miles west of Jerusalem, and, according to modern travellers, about nine miles from Joppa and a league from Lydda, between which it is situated. It is built on a rising ground, on a rich plain, and contains about two thousand families. 1Sa 1:19; Mat 27:57, Arimathea

1Sa 1:2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Vernon McGee: this scripture does not mean God approves on a man having two wives. This just means that it is recorded. God disapproved/disapproves of having more than one wife.

LifeWay Explore the Bible: Since Peninnah was the second wife (1:2), and since the text tells us that Elkanah, the husband of the two women, loved Hannah (v. 5), we can assume that Elkanah took Peninnah as a second wife only after a number of years of trying and failing to have a son by Hannah. In ancient Israel, people believed it was essential for every landowning man to father a son to whom he could pass the property. The land was considered to be inalienable from the family that owned it. If the family fell into debt and had to sell the land, it was to be returned to them free of charge in the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:25-28). If a man died without having fathered a son, it was the duty of a near relative, usually a brother of the deceased, to father a son by the man’s widow (Deut. 25:5-10). The child would be considered the son of the deceased man, and thus the property would continue to be held by his legal (albeit not biological) descendants. In light of these customs and laws, the taking of a second wife was not an indulgence or something done on a whim. For Elkanah, a son was an absolute necessity.

1Sa 1:3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

It will become more obvious as to why Samuel mentions the two sons of Eli here in this scripture.

yearly….Exodus 34:23 (KJV) Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.

1Sa 1:4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

offered….Leviticus 7:15 (KJV) And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.

1Sa 1:5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

worthy portion: means he gave her “more” than the others….because he loved her more.

worthy portion…The Hebrew phrase, manah achath appayim…meaning “double portion.

1Sa 1:6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.

adversary: tsaw-raw’

Feminine of H6862; tightness (that is, figuratively trouble); transitively a female rival: – adversary, adversity, affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation, trouble.


A primitive root; to trouble; by implication to grieve, rage, be indignant: – be angry, be grieved, take indignation, provoke (to anger, unto wrath), have sorrow, vex, be wroth.

Why does Samuel describe the other wife as her adversary? Probably because there were family problems within the family. Vernon McGee points out that God does not approve of two wives, so this man and family were having problems.

1Sa 1:7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

1Sa 1:8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

1Sa 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.
1Sa 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

post: mez-oo-zaw’, mez-oo-zaw’

From the same as H2123; a door post (as prominent): – (door, side) post.

1Sa 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

vowed: naw-dar’

A primitive root; to promise (positively, to do or give something to God): – (make a) vow.

LifeWay Explore the Bible: Hannah promised that if God gave her a son, she would give him up to God so that he could perpetually be a Nazirite. In ancient Israel, any man could take a Nazirite vow. The rules for the Nazirites are found in Numbers 6:1-21 and Amos 2:11-12.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5: “When you make a vow to God, don’t delay ful lling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not ful ll it.”

1Sa 1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.

marked her mouth: shaw-mar’

A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: – beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).

Eli marked her mouth. He was trying to read her lips. But her voice was quiet, she was moving her lips but not making any voice or noise.

1Sa 1:13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

Eli had seen other people there who had been drunk. This place wasn’t always the best place to be.

1Sa 1:14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.

wine: yah’-yin

From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].

1Sa 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

my lord: ‘âdôn ‘âdôn

aw-done’, aw-done’

From an unused root (meaning to rule); sovereign, that is, controller (human or divine): – lord, master, owner. Compare also names beginning with “Adoni-”.

1Sa 1:16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

handmaid: ‘âmâh


Apparently a primitive word; a maidservant or female slave: – (hand-) bondmaid (-woman,) maid (-servant).

daughter of Belial: belı̂ya‛al


without profit, worthlessness; by extension destruction, wickedness (often in connection with H376, H802, H1121, etc.): – Belial, evil, naughty, ungodly (men), wicked.

complaint: śı̂yach


From H7878; a contemplation; by implication an utterance: – babbling, communication, complaint, meditation, prayer, talk.

1Sa 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.

the God of Israel: ‘Ä•lôhı̂ym


Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

1Sa 1:18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

1Sa 1:19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.

worshipped: shâchâh


A primitive root; to depress, that is, prostrate (especially reflexively in homage to royalty or God): – bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

1Sa 1:20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

Samuel: shemû’êl


heard of God; Shemuel, the name of three Israelites: – Samuel, Shemuel.

Vernon McGee: This book opens with a woman crying, and a nation crying for a King. God answers both.

Samuel Given to the Lord

1Sa 1:21 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.

offer: zâbach


A primitive root; to slaughter an animal (usually in sacrifice): – kill, offer, (do) sacrifice, slay.

1Sa 1:22 But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.

the Lord: yehôvâh


From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord.

1Sa 1:23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

1Sa 1:24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

three bullocks: The LXX, Syriac, and Arabic, read “a bullock of three years old;” which is probably correct, as we read (1Sa 1:25) that they sleweth happar, “the bullock.”

1Sa 1:25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.

1Sa 1:26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

1Sa 1:27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
1Sa 1:28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.

She kept her vow to God. She brought him to the Lord.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 — Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving is prophetic, as she mentions the Messiah for the first time (v. 10).

Eli’s sons are evil and not fit for the priests’ office.
An unnamed prophet warns Eli that his line will be cut off as high priest and that God will raise up a faithful priest (v. 35). Notice verse 26 — spoken only of Samuel and Jesus.

Hannah’s Prayer

1Sa 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

horn = strength. Something to hold on to!

1Sa 2:2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

rock: in the old testament, God is frequently referenced as a rock.

1Sa 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
1Sa 2:4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
1Sa 2:5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
1Sa 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

The whole thought here is that the Lord is the giver of life. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

1Sa 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
1Sa 2:8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.
1Sa 2:9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
1Sa 2:10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

anointed = The Hebrew word Messiah. This is the first mention of the word Messiah.

1Sa 2:11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.

LifeWay Explore the Bible: SUMMARIZE: Hannah shared her burden with the Lord. She acknowledged God when He answered her prayer, and she was faithful to her commitment to the Lord.

Eli’s Worthless Sons

1Sa 2:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

sons of Belial = sons of the devil, they were not saved.

1Sa 2:13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
1Sa 2:14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
1Sa 2:15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
1Sa 2:16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
1Sa 2:17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

These two men were not offering the sacrifice to the Lord. They were keeping it.

1Sa 2:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
1Sa 2:19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
1Sa 2:20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.
1Sa 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Eli Rebukes His Sons

1Sa 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
1Sa 2:23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
1Sa 2:24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress.
1Sa 2:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
1Sa 2:26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.

Chapter 3
Chapter 3 — The story of the call of Samuel as a prophet-priest is ordinarily reserved for children. It is not only for the junior, but for the senior. Bring it out of the nursery and into the adult department, for it is not only a beautiful story but marks one of the great transitional periods in Scripture — the change from theocracy to monarchy, from priest to king. God spoke to a king through prophets. Samuel was not a wee child. Josephus says he was 12 years old (2:18 gives the wrong impression). Solomon was a grown man when he prayed, “I am but a little child” (1 Kings 3:7). Jeremiah was called to prophetic office when he wrote, “I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6).

There were a total of 4 calls to Samuel: first and second were the call of God to salvation (v. 7); the last 2 calls were to service (v. 10).

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 — Israel, without consulting Samuel, goes out to battle against the Philistines — which leads to defeat. Then they bring the ark of the covenant into battle, thinking its presence will bring victory. This reveals the superstitious paganism of the people who thought there was some merit in an object. The merit was in the presence and person of God.

Verse 5 reveals gross idolatry.

Verses 6 through 8 show that the Philistines were both superstitious and ignorant.

Verse 10 tells Israel’s defeat again. The ark is captured.

Verse 18 — The capture of the ark causes Eli to collapse and fall backward, breaking his neck (he was a fat man).

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 — The captured ark is placed in the house of Dagon, idol of the Philistines. The idol falls over and breaks. In fear, they send the ark to Gath where it is then transferred to Ekron.

1 Samuel 5

The Philistines and the Ark

1Sa 5:1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
1Sa 5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
1Sa 5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
1Sa 5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
1Sa 5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

  • When the arc of the covenent had been taken by the Philistines, they had placed it “into the house of Dagon”. Dagon was the Philistine God.
  • The Lord “face-planted” Dagon first, then the next night, the Lord beheaded the Dagon symbol and also cut off it’s arm.
  • See Exodus 25:10-22 for the description of the Arc of the Covenant.
  • See Numbers 7:89

1Sa 5:6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
1Sa 5:7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
1Sa 5:8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
1Sa 5:9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
1Sa 5:10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
1Sa 5:11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
1Sa 5:12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

  • The hand of God was heavy against the Philistines.
  • If used in the proper manner, God’s GLORY can be awesome for us. If used in the improper manner, God’s GLORY can be bad, even hazardous to us.
  • In the Old Testament, the Glory of God was represented by the Arc of the Covenant. In the New Testament, the Glory of God has moved into the HEART of the believer.

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 — Philistines return the ark to Israel, carried on a cart, to the field of Joshua at Bethshemesh. The ark is transferred to Kirjath jearim.

The Ark Returned to Israel

1Sa 6:1 And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
1Sa 6:2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
1Sa 6:3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
1Sa 6:4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
1Sa 6:5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
1Sa 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
1Sa 6:7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
1Sa 6:8 And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
1Sa 6:9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.
1Sa 6:10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
1Sa 6:11 And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
1Sa 6:12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.
1Sa 6:13 And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
1Sa 6:14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
1Sa 6:15 And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.
1Sa 6:16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.

  • Notice the Jews did not take vengence upon the Philistines for taking the arc. In the New Testament, Paul tells us to not take vengence, and leave all vengence to God.

1Sa 6:16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

  • The Philistines saw how the Jews worshipped God. We should also set a good example for others to follow.

1Sa 6:17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
1Sa 6:18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
1Sa 6:19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
1Sa 6:20 And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
1Sa 6:21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 — After 20 years Israel prepares to receive the ark. Israel turns from Baalim and Ashtaroth to serve the Lord (v. 4).
After Israel’s victory over the Philistines, Samuel sets up a stone at Ebenezer, which means “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Verses 15 through 17 give Samuel’s extensive ministry as prophet, priest, and judge.

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 — Hosea 13:11 can be written over the remainder of 1 Samuel:
I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my
Samuel made the mistake of making his own sons judges to succeed him. They were wholly unworthy and incompetent (v. 3). Samuel was a failure as a father.
Israel demanded a king and rejected God and Samuel. Israel was influenced by surrounding nations.

Mark Dooley, 1 Samuel , Sunday School, Sunday June 26th, 2016.

Samuel was the last of the Judges. Hanna did something that we would think as odd. She couldn’t have children, she cried to God for a child, God gave her the child, then she gave the child to God. Later, Samuel became prophet and priest.

The request for a King, shows that the people do not trust God, they wanted an earthly King, a protector. This was prophesized earlier in the Old Testament. Deut 17, 14-20.

Deut 17:14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
Deu 17:15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
Deu 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Deu 17:20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

The people wanted a King, one of the reason was because they did NOT want Samuel’s two wicked sons to rule Israel.

Israel Demands a King

1Sa 8:1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
1Sa 8:2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

Both of Samuel’s sons names were significant. Both names were in reference to God, Jehova.

1Sa 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
1Sa 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
1Sa 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
1Sa 8:8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

The people rejected God, not Samuel. Think about that! However, we too reject God, just like Israre’s people did. Everytime we sin we reject God. We are no different. We are the rejector!

Slipping away from God is “gradual”, not immediate. One day we sleep in instead of going to church, or one day we don’t say prayers or have a quiet time. Eventually, things start to slip more and more, it make takes years, little by little. That is the nature of slipping. That is why we as a church body need to be concerned about each other. The bible says bear each others burdeons. There is noone who is exempt. Anyone can slip away. So, stay in the Word, stay close to the fellowship.

1Sa 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

Samuel’s Warning Against Kings

1Sa 8:10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
1Sa 8:11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
1Sa 8:12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
1Sa 8:13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
1Sa 8:14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
1Sa 8:15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
1Sa 8:16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
1Sa 8:18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

Samuel outlines what having a king will mean to the nation. It’s not going to be pretty, but if you want a kind, it’s going to happen.

The Lord Grants Israel’s Request

1Sa 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
1Sa 8:20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

Verse 20, there’s the REAL reason they want a king. “Then we will be like other nations.” At this time, remember, all the other nations were idolatrous.

1Sa 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
1Sa 8:22 And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

1 Timothy chapter 2: 1-4 1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Our Ultimate King is God. BUT, we are called to pray for our leaders. Could it be that sometimes our leaders do NOT make good decisions, because we are not praying for our leaders like the bible has commanded us to do? Are we reaping what we are sowing because we have not followed God’s Word?

II. SAUL: Satan’s man, Chapters 9 — 15

Chapter 9

Chapter 9 — The people chose Saul. He looked like a king (v. 2). God granted their request but sent leanness to their souls (v. 17). Is Saul (v. 21) genuinely humble?

Chapter 10

Chapter 10 — Samuel anoints Saul king (v. 1). Was Saul (v. 6) converted? This verse is not the final proof. The Spirit of God came upon Balaam also, but he was not converted. Succeeding events in Saul’s life indicate that he was not. Verse 9 does not mean he had a new heart, only another heart. God equipped him for the office of king.
The reception of Saul as king was their rejection of God (v. 19). Saul’s conduct (v. 22) is evidence of a false modesty. Verse 25 gives the message of 1 Samuel.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 — Saul began well, as he gained a victory over the Ammonites at Jabesh-gilead. All Israel accepted Saul as king (v. 15).

Chapter 12
Chapter 12 — Samuel transfers all authority to Saul and turns in his report as judge over Israel. Verse 3 is Samuel’s autobiography — he was a remarkable man. Although Saul was Israel’s choice (v. 13), God would still bless if the people would obey (v. 14). The people begin to see and acknowledge their mistake (v. 19). Verse 22 is the revelation of the marvelous grace of God.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 — The real nature of Saul begins to show. His son Jonathan got the victory at Michmash, but Saul blew the trumpet and took credit for it (vs. 3, 4). In presumption Saul intrudes into the priest’s office (vs. 8-10). Samuel rebukes and rejects Saul (vs. 13, 14). The disarmament of Israel is revealed (vs. 19, 22).

Samuel Chapter 13

Saul Fights the Philistines

1Sa 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

1Sa 13:2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.

1Sa 13:3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

1Sa 13:4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

1Sa 13:5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.

1Sa 13:6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
1Sa 13:7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

1Sa 13:8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

1Sa 13:9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

1Sa 13:10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

1Sa 13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

1Sa 13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

1Sa 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

1Sa 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

1Sa 13:15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

1Sa 13:16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

1Sa 13:17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:

1Sa 13:18 And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

1Sa 13:19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:

1Sa 13:20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.

1Sa 13:21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.

1Sa 13:22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

1Sa 13:23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Mishmash.

Chapter 14

Chapter 14 — Again Jonathan gains a victory, but Saul takes credit for it (vs. 14, 15). “Saul took credit for victory…modesty gone now” (Young). Saul’s jealousy is revealed (vs. 37-45). He actually would destroy his son if he stood in the way.

1 Samuel 14

Jonathan Defeats the Philistines

1Sa 14:1 Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.

1Sa 14:2 And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;

1Sa 14:3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.

1Sa 14:4 And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

1Sa 14:5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.

1Sa 14:6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.

1Sa 14:7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

1Sa 14:8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.

1Sa 14:9 If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.

1Sa 14:10 But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.

1Sa 14:11 And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.

1Sa 14:12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.

1Sa 14:13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.

1Sa 14:14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.

1Sa 14:15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.

1Sa 14:16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.

1Sa 14:17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.

1Sa 14:18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.

1Sa 14:19 And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.

1Sa 14:20 And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.

1Sa 14:21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.

1Sa 14:22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.

1Sa 14:23 So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.

Saul’s Rash Vow

1Sa 14:24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.

1Sa 14:25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.

1Sa 14:26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.

1Sa 14:27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.

1Sa 14:28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.

1Sa 14:29 Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.

my eyes have been enlightened: see how bright my eyes are now that I have had a little bit of this honey. Or see how much better I feel now that I have had a little of this honey.

1Sa 14:30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?

1Sa 14:31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.

1Sa 14:32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.

did eat them with the blood: they were starving, and when the oath was over, they quickly ate the food without doing the normal jewish routine that was normally performed.

1Sa 14:33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.

1Sa 14:34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.

1Sa 14:35 And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.

1Sa 14:36 And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God.

1Sa 14:37 And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.

1Sa 14:38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.

1Sa 14:39 For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.

1Sa 14:40 Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.

1Sa 14:41 Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.

1Sa 14:42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.

1Sa 14:43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.

1Sa 14:44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.

1Sa 14:45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.

1Sa 14:46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.

Saul Fights Israel’s Enemies

1Sa 14:47 So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.

1Sa 14:48 And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.

1Sa 14:49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:

1Sa 14:50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.

1Sa 14:51 And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

1Sa 14:52 And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.

Chapter 15

Chapter 15 — Saul’s glaring rebellion is revealed in his disobedience regarding Agag. He wants to cover up his sin before the people (v. 30). Saul is rejected now as king with no hope of recovery (v. 35). Samuel loved Saul for he mourned for him. Was he Samuel’s choice? A great spiritual principle is enunciated by Samuel (vs. 22, 23).

God has given Saul an opportunity to make good after his first failure, but he failed the second time. This is God’s method all the way through Scripture (cf. Jacob, Jonah, Peter, Mark, etc.). God did not need to wait for the result — He already knew. However, the individual needed to know, and we need to know (Psalm 51:4; Romans 3:19; Revelation 15:3). We shall be tested, and we need the help of the Holy Spirit (James 1:12).
Why the extreme surgery in slaying the Amalekites and Agag? Move ahead about 500 years. Haman was an Agagite (Esther 3:1). God was protecting multitudes of the future, as He did at the Flood.

1 Samuel Chapter 15

The Lord Rejects Saul

1Sa 15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

1Sa 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

1Sa 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

1Sa 15:4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

1Sa 15:5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

1Sa 15:6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

1Sa 15:7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.

1Sa 15:8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

1Sa 15:9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

1Sa 15:10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,

1Sa 15:11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

1Sa 15:12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

1Sa 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

1Sa 15:14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

1Sa 15:15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

1Sa 15:16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

1Sa 15:17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

1Sa 15:18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

1Sa 15:19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

1Sa 15:20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

1Sa 15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1Sa 15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

1Sa 15:25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.

1Sa 15:26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

1Sa 15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

1Sa 15:28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

1Sa 15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.

1Sa 15:31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

1Sa 15:32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

1Sa 15:33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

1Sa 15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.

1Sa 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

III. DAVID: Gods man, and SAUL: Satans man, Chapters 16 — 31
Chapter 16

Chapter 16 = God chooses David as king to succeed Saul and sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint him as king. Another great principle is enunciated (v. 7). This is Gods method of choosing men for a particular office and task. Because Saul is forsaken of God (v. 14), David is brought into court to play upon his harp to soothe the evil spir- it of Saul.

David Anointed King

1Sa 16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
1Sa 16:2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’

1Sa 16:3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”
1Sa 16:4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?”

Prophets so often brought bad news with them, messages of doom and judgment, and people preferred not to see them at all. When Elijah turned up at the court of Ahab, he received the greeting, “Is that you, you destroyer of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Also, remember that Samuel was a Judge over Isreael, not just a prophet.

1Sa 16:5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
1Sa 16:6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.”
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

1Sa 16:8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
1Sa 16:9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
1Sa 16:10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.”
1Sa 16:11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.”
1Sa 16:12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.”

ruddy = glowing, healthy, redish. Esau was also ruddy.

The main point here is this….”GOD” selected David, not Samuel. Samuel was merely an agent being used by God to identify the next King.

1Sa 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David = supernatural evidence of God’s will being accomplished.

In earlier times, the Spirit came upon various judges, including Othniel (Judg. 3:10), Gideon (Judg. 6:34), Jephthah (Judg. 11:29), and Samson (Judg. 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14). In every case, the Spirit enabled the judge to overcome his enemies or some immediate danger.

Apart from Saul and David, the Bible never says that the Spirit came upon any king of Israel or Judah. In other places in the historical narrative, the Spirit of God comes upon prophets (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; 2 Chron. 15:1; 20:13-15; 24:20).

David in Saul’s Service

1Sa 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.

Immediately after Samuel anointed David and the Spirit came upon him, the Spirit abandoned Saul (see 1 Sam. 16:14). Later, however, Saul prophesied again by the power of the Spirit (19:23). David, after his sin involving Bathsheba, was fearful that God would take away His Spirit (Ps. 51:11). us, it appears that the Spirit could come and go in the lives of kings. is is analogous to what we see in Samson, whom the Lord abandoned (Judg. 16:20), but later strengthened (Judg. 16:28-30).

In the New Testament, the Spirit dwells within believers primarily for their sanctification (Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Gal. 5:22). Even the gifts of the Spirit are primarily for the edification of the church, and they were given to all rather than to a select few (1 Cor. 12:8-13). Paul indicated that believers can grieve the Spirit (Eph. 4:30), but he does not say that the Spirit might abandon us.

1Sa 16:15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you.
1Sa 16:16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.”
1Sa 16:17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.”
1Sa 16:18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”

Not a coincidence. God had things in control and was accomplishing his ultimate will. David is now in the throne room where he will learn, and the people will learn about David.

1Sa 16:19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.”
1Sa 16:20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul.
1Sa 16:21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.
1Sa 16:22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”
1Sa 16:23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

Chapter 17

Chapter 17 — This chapter contains the familiar episode of David slaying Goliath with a slingshot. Why did David take 5 smooth stones to slay Goliath (v. 40)? Did he expect to miss? No, Goliath had 4 sons, and David expected them to come out also. In fact, he did slay them (2 Samuel 21:22); David did not expect to miss (Judges 20:16).

David and Goliath

1Sa 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.
1Sa 17:2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines.
1Sa 17:3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.
1Sa 17:4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
1Sa 17:5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze.
1Sa 17:6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders.
1Sa 17:7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.
1Sa 17:8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.
1Sa 17:9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”
1Sa 17:10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”
1Sa 17:11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
1Sa 17:12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.
1Sa 17:13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.
1Sa 17:14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul,
1Sa 17:15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
1Sa 17:16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.
1Sa 17:17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers.
1Sa 17:18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”
1Sa 17:19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
1Sa 17:20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry.
1Sa 17:21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army.
1Sa 17:22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers.
1Sa 17:23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
1Sa 17:24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.
1Sa 17:25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.”
1Sa 17:26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
1Sa 17:27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”
1Sa 17:28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
1Sa 17:29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?”
1Sa 17:30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.
1Sa 17:31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him.

1Sa 17:32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
1Sa 17:33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
1Sa 17:34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock,
1Sa 17:35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
1Sa 17:36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
1Sa 17:37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

David had learned that God would use David’s life experiences to help deliver him from the Philistine. Also, David knew that Samuel had anointed him as the future King of Israel. David knew that God had plans for him, and David knew that God is in control of all.

1Sa 17:38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail,
1Sa 17:39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off.
1Sa 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.
1Sa 17:41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.
1Sa 17:42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.
1Sa 17:43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
1Sa 17:44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
1Sa 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
1Sa 17:46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
1Sa 17:47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
1Sa 17:48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
1Sa 17:49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
1Sa 17:50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.
1Sa 17:51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
1Sa 17:52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.
1Sa 17:53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp.
1Sa 17:54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.
1Sa 17:55 As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.”
1Sa 17:56 And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.”
1Sa 17:57 And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.
1Sa 17:58 And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Chapter 18

Chapter 18 — David and Jonathan become fast friends, and they make a covenant for life. Saul becomes jealous of David because of the people’s applause (vs. 8, 9) and twice attempts to slay him. David becomes the favorite of the people (v. 16). Saul gives his daughter Michal to David as wife in order to trap David.


Chapter 19 — Saul openly attempts to have David slain; he personally attempts to slay him with a javelin as David plays upon his harp (vs. 9, 10). David escapes and becomes as a hunted animal.

Chapter 20

Chapter 20 — Jonathan proves his love for David by protecting him (vs. 16, 17). Jonathan communicates with David the intentions of Saul by means of the shooting of arrows. Saul determines to kill David,
and David flees.

Chapter 21

Chapter 21 — David flees to Ahimelech the priest and feeds his young men with the showbread from the holy place. Then David flees to Achish, king of Gath, in Philistine country.

Chapter 22

Chapter 22 — David begins to gather his mighty men. Those who came to him were in dire need — in distress, in debt, and discontented. David is hunted as a criminal. Saul slays Ahimelech and the other priests for helping David (vs. 16-23).

David at the Cave of Adullam

1Sa 22:1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
1Sa 22:2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
1Sa 22:3 And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.

Moab: Saul was fighting with the Moabites. David took his parents to Moab because David’s grandmother was RUTH, who was in Moab.

1Sa 22:4 And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.
1Sa 22:5 And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.

Saul Kills the Priests at Nob

1Sa 22:6 When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)
1Sa 22:7 Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;
1Sa 22:8 That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?

Saul is whining here; he is having a pity-party. But notice, David also has pity-parties. But the difference is quite noticable. When Saul whines, he takes it out on his people. But when David has a pity-party, he cries out to the Lord. Just read the Psalms, you will see how differently David reacts and how Saul reacts. See Psalm 34 and 57.

1Sa 22:9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.
1Sa 22:10 And he enquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
1Sa 22:11 Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.
1Sa 22:12 And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord.
1Sa 22:13 And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast enquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
1Sa 22:14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?
1Sa 22:15 Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
1Sa 22:16 And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father’s house.
1Sa 22:17 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.
1Sa 22:18 And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.

This priest was a grandson of Eli. Remember in 1 Samuel 4, it was prophesized that Eli and his family line would be removed.

1Sa 22:19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
1Sa 22:20 And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
1Sa 22:21 And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD’S priests.
1Sa 22:22 And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house.
1Sa 22:23 Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.

Chapter 23

Chapter 23 — David continues to flee with 600 men (v. 13). Jonathan contacts David and recognizes that David will be the next king (vs. 16, 17). Jonathan is a great man, and his attitude and action remind us of John the Baptist.

Chapter 24

Chapter 24 — David spares Saul’s life at Engedi because he honors his office, not the man (v. 6).

Chapter 25

Chapter 25 — Death of Samuel in his retirement. David encoun- ters Nabal and Abigail. David in anger is prevented from the rash act of murdering Nabal and his servants by the presence and diplomacy of Abigail, Nabal’s beautiful wife. Nabal dies after a night of drunkenness, and David takes Abigail as wife. She was a good influence in the life of David (vs. 29, 32-34).

Chapter 26

Chapter 26 — David again spares Saul in the wilderness of Ziph. Note the contrast between Saul and David. Obviously, Saul knows that David is God’s choice, but he seeks to slay him (v. 25). David recognizes that Saul is the anointed king, and he spares him. God must deal with Saul (vs. 9-11). Is David being sarcastic with Abner (v. 15)?

Chapter 27

Chapter 27 — David in fear retreats to Philistia (v. 1). Achish of Gath gives David and his men the city of Ziklag.

Chapter 28

Chapter 28 — Saul’s interview with the witch of Endor poses and provokes many questions. The primary one relates to Samuel. Did she bring Samuel back from the dead? If so, this is the only instance in Scripture. Scripture positively condemns such practices of necromancy (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). The New Testament account of Lazarus and a rich man indicates there can be no return (Luke 16:19-31). Paul was silenced about his experience of being caught up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Scripture warns of these practices and predicts a future outbreak (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Revelation 16:13, 14).
Saul was abandoned of God (vs. 6, 15). Because heaven was silent, Saul turned to hell. We maintain that Samuel did not appear. There are 2 possible explanations: (1) It was a fraud, the witch was a ventriloquist (this is the position of G. Campbell Morgan); (2) an overweening desire to communicate with dead loved ones makes people victims of deceit. We believe a false spirit appeared — not Samuel. Even the witch was deceived and frightened (vs. 12-15). The false spirit communicated nothing that was not previously revealed.

Chapter 29

Chapter 29 — The Philistines do not trust David to fight against Israel.

Chapter 30

Chapter 30 — David fights against the Amalekites because of destruction of Ziklag. Note David’s refuge (v. 6).

Chapter 31

Chapter 31 — Saul, mortally wounded in battle, tries to commit suicide. See 2 Samuel, chapter 1, for the answer to the question: “Who killed King Saul?”

Saul failed in ruling God’s property.
The end is self-destruction.
God and His authority are rejected.
Saul spared the Amalekites; Saul was killed by Amalekites.

I. SAMUEL: God’s prophet, priest, and judge, Chapters 1 — 8
A. Birth of Samuel, Chapters 1, 2
1. Hannah’s prayer and answer, 1
2. Hannah’s prophetic prayer; boy Samuel in temple, 2
B. Call of Samuel, Chapter 3
C. Lastjudgeandfirstprophet(propheticoffice),Chapters4—8
1. Ark captured by Philistines; Word of God to Samuel fulfilled;
Eli dies and his sons slain, 4
2. God judged Philistines because of the ark; ark returned to
Bethshemesh, 5, 6
3. Samuel leads in revival (put away idols and turn to Jehovah);
victory at Ebenezer, 7
4. Israel rejects God and demands a king; Samuel warns
nation but promises a king, 8

II. SAUL: Satan’s man, Chapters 9 — 15
A. Saul received, Chapters 9, 10 1. Saul chosen as king, 9
2. Saul anointed as king, 10
B. Saul reigning, Chapters 11, 12
1. Saul’s victory over Ammonites, 11
2. Transfer of authority from Samuel to Saul, 12
C. Saul rejected, Chapters 13 — 15
1. Saul’s rebellion against God, 13
2. Jonathan responsible for victory over Philistines; Saul
took credit, 14
3. Saul’s glaring rebellion and disobedience regarding
Agag, 15

III. DAVID: God’s man, and SAUL: Satan’s man, Chapters 16 — 31
A. David anointed, Chapter 16
B. Davidtrained,Chapters17,18
1. David slays Goliath, giant of Gath, 17
2. JonathanandDavidmakecovenant;Saulgivesdaughter
Michal to David, 18
C. David disciplined, Chapters 19 — 30
1. Saul attempts to kill David again, 19
2. Jonathan helps David escape, 20
3. David escapes to Nob and Gath, 21
4. David gathers his men; Saul slays priests of God, 22
5. David fights Philistines; Saul pursues David; Jonathan
and David make covenant, 23
6. David spares Saul’s life at En-gedi, 24
7. Samuel dies; David and Abigail, 25
8. David again spares Saul’s life in wilderness of Ziph, 26
9. David retreats to land of Philistia (Ziklag), 27
10. Saul goes to witch of Endor, 28
11. Philistines do not trust David in battle, 29
12. David fights Amalekites because of destruction of
Ziklag, 30
D. Saul, mortally wounded in battle, commits suicide,
Chapter 31

January 2, 2006

Ecclesiastes – updated 4.14.2016

Filed under: Bible Studies,Old Testament — Adam Osborne @ 8:35 pm

A Bible Study by Adam Osborne, Jr.

Chapter 6

Taught on 16 October 2005

Leonardtown Baptist Church

This chapter concludes Solomon’s pursuit and enjoyment of wealth in his search for satisfaction.

INTRO: From Ray Stedman’s commentary.

… We are all facing to one degree or another some sort of hard times ahead. That makes everyone’s heart sink a little; we tend to react emotionally to these circumstances.

Yet our view of life may be so distorted that if hard times actually do come to us they may be the best years of our lives. That is what the Searcher (Solomon) tells us this morning in the passage in Ecclesiastes 6, where he declares that things are not what they seem to be. We think life is one way and it turns out to be something quite different. The thesis of our passage this morning is that we may be reading everything that is happening to us entirely wrong.

In Chapter 6, the Searcher of Israel, says that prosperity may not always be good; and in the first fourteen verses of Chapter 7 he takes up the opposite and accompanying truth — that adversity may not always be bad. What we need, of course, is a true view of good and evil: how to tell good when it is good, and how to recognize evil for what it is. We would save ourselves much heartache if we could do that. The wonderful thing about Scripture is that it does just that. The Searcher here gives us the true view of good and evil.

SHEPHERD NOTES: In verses 1 through 6, the Teacher described a hypothetical person who is superrich by the standards of the ancient world. He had money, things, honor among people, and a hundred children. More than that, he lived 2000 years! For the ancient Israelite, wealth, children and long life were the STANDARDS for JUDGING whether a person was rich. The Teacher contrasted this man with a fetus who is stillborn. Thus, the ultimate “have” (the superrich person) is contrasted with the ultimate “have not” (a stillborn fetus).


Adam’s comments: It is important to remember here what we are talking about in this chapter. We are not talking about us, about us Christian saved men and women. This chapter is talking about the man or woman who doesn’t know the saving grace of God. A person who does not recognize that all good things are from God.

1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men:

God causes his sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the good

Matt 5:44-45 (NIV) But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

QUESTION: Why does God cause his sun to shine upon the EVIL as well as upon the good?

Matthew Henry: “Common” mercies sent from God, more proof of God’s goodness to all.

It is given to the just as well as the unjust, so that so that we cannot know love and hatred by what is before us, but by what is within us; not by the shining of the sun on our heads, but by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in our hearts.

The gifts of God’s bounty to wicked men that are in rebellion against him, teach us to do good to those that hate us; especially considering, that though there is in us a carnal mind which is enmity to God, yet we share in his bounty.

Those only will be accepted as the children of God, who study to resemble him, particularly in his goodness.

2 God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.

Verses 1 and 2: Immediately, Solomon recognizes that to have abundance and possessions — all that money can buy — and yet lack the power to enjoy them is a very heavy burden to bear.

To make matters even worse, the Searcher says, material wealth and abundance can be frustrating: imagine a stranger enjoying what you cannot enjoy.

That would make one very frustrated, even resentful: “Why couldn’t I enjoy it?” he would be entitled to ask.

The key to all of this is in the words, “God does not give him power to enjoy.”

WHY WOULD GOD NOT GIVE US THE ABILITY TO HAVE PLEASURE? The answer has already been given. Look at Ecclesiastes 2: 25-26.

25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.

Ray Stedman….”To the man who pleases him.” Again, I am afraid many people read that as though it means that some level of religious performance, some standard of morality, like joining a church or coming to meetings, is what pleases God. We must understand that the Scriptures never say that. Faith is what pleases God, believing him, taking him at his word and acting upon that word. This is what pleases God: obedience based upon faith. To such a man or woman God gives the gift of enjoying whatever he or she has. How little or how much it may be, is a gift poured out and taken from his hand. That is why gratitude, to be grateful for what you get, is the most important element of our lives.

3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

Why did Solomon say “a hundred children”?

Represents a long life, a lot of children and grandchildren…things that would normally make us very happy.

Then to make it even more grand he will live for MANY years, which should even make him happier.

The “reference” referring that a stillborn child is better off than he:

Matthew Henry says: “Better is the fruit that drops from the tree before it is ripe than that which is left to hang on till it is rotten.”

Job also thought of this…that it would have been better to have never been born….

Job 3:16 (NIV) Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?

4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.

In other words, the stillborn child is very sad, never knowing the light of day, knowing only darkness, with no name.

Note: Solomon was not trying to teach us anything about the eternal destiny of a stillborn child. He was just saying that the child had never seen the sun.

5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man–

Those that live in willful ignorance are no better than an untimely birth that has not seen the sun nor known any thing.

6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?

This man will meet the same fate as the stillborn child and will ultimately die.

7 All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.

Adam Clarke’s commentary: “When a man learns to provide for his soul as he does for his body, then he will begin to be happy.

Worldly sinful desires are insatiable.

Still focusing on “wealth” here.

8 What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others?

Conversation now shifts to WISDOM. Solomon says, “What advantage has the wise man over the fool?”

Adam Clarke’s commentary: “They must both labor for the same end. Both depend upon the labor for of themselves or others for the necessities of life. Both must eat and drink in order to live. The necessities of life are the same to both and their condition in life is nearly similar….liable to the same diseases and death.

You may be wise in your investments, careful with your money, you may pursue pleasure moderately, but it is still not going to work; if that is all you have you are no different than the fool.

“who knows how to conduct himself before the living”

Even a poor man who learns how to attract others to himself by means of his charming personality is still left empty, lonely and miserable inside.

9 Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Now we have moved from “wealth”, then “wisdom”, to a roving dreamer who wants more and more.

Better to take pleasure in what you have (what the eyes see), than to daydream about pursuing something more.

SUMMARY SO FAR: (Shepherd Notes) The intellectual seeks knowledge with the same zeal by which the miser seeks money. Both are driven by the “appetites.” Their motives are not really all that different. Both seek permanence and significance in the face of death and a tumble into meaningless.


And here is the answer, here is the “reason” why you can not be happy without God…verse 10

10 Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known; no man can contend with one who is stronger than he.

Stedman: – The Searcher (Solomon) is telling us here that God has decreed that enjoyment cannot be found by effort, by work, and by the pursuit of pleasure. Enjoyment must be taken as a gift from God’s hand; that decree is as unalterable as the law of gravity. You may not agree with God about it, you may not like it, but there it is; it cannot be changed.

OUR study book said: “Solomon says we should celebrate and enjoy life for what it is–a precious gift from God. God made life to be enjoyed, not to be collected.

The Searcher points out three things about this:

First, God decreed it before man was ever created Whatever exists has already been named ” — before it happened. Even man did not come to be before he was named in the mind and thought of God; and God created this strange law of life before man ever appeared on earth.

Secondly, it was decreed in view of what man is: ” what man is has been known.” God made us. He knows what we are like, how we function, what will satisfy and what will not. In view of that, he set up this decree that enjoyment cannot be found from the possession of things. Jesus stated that very plainly: “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things which he possesses.”

Then, thirdly, the Searcher says that it was decreed in spite of man: ” no man can contend with one who is stronger than he.” How are you going to change the laws of God? They govern your life whether you like it or not. Though this may appear to be very much against us, nevertheless there is nothing we can do about it.

” no man can contend with one who is stronger than he”. When Job was discussing his dilemma with his “friends”, he said this….

Job 33:12 (NIV) “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man.

11 The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?

Arguing does not help.

C.S. Lewis said: “To argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all.”

Shepherd Notes: Now that we have fallen, and now that the knowledge of good and evil has enslaved us in death, we realize that an excess of words (knowledge) will not save us.

Our study books said ” Solomon is basically saying that we can talk back to God allwe want, but we will just end up frustrated.” God says “Life is to know me.”


Before reading verse 12: QUESTION: How many times in life do we think “WE” know what is good or bad for us? How many times have you really wanted (or even prayed) for something only to find out later that it would have not been good if that would have happened?

What are some of the times when “we” are making decisions based on what WE think is good or bad for us?

job hunting



12 For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

Verse 12:

First he asks “Who knows true value in life?” Where is the man who understands everything, who knows what in life is good and what is bad?

“Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone”?

In other words, “Who can what the results of our present choices will be?” In other words, we don’t even know what we should wish for.

QUESTIONS from the study book:

1) What are some lessons you have learned that have had a “high tuition.” Are there things you did not learn except from experience? What was the process like?

“high tuition”…. When you walk away from God, God does not walk away from you. I forfeited many years of joy and peace while trying to run my own life apart from God.

Are there things I did not learn except from experience? I learned about how “hard” life can be apart from God. My rough times eventually drove me back to God, but I don’t feel any better because I have experienced those times. I only experienced those times because I was outside the will of God. God never intended those hard times for me, I caused them because of my sinful behavior. I didn’t have to go through those hard times.

2) What are some of the things you do just to enjoy life?

Pray. Get close to God. Enjoy the peacefulness of his STRENGTH and his love.

Eat dinner as a family. Sit, talk, laugh, smile, cry, etc. Get to really know them, how they think, how they act, what their friends are like. Sometimes I use these conversations to “shape” their thinking, to teach them Christian principles.

Reading the bible…sometimes it can be a real comfort. A calmness in the storm.

3) You can be miserable or you can be happy. Think back to times when you have made that choice. What factors influenced your attitude? How do we make the choice to be happy?

Factors influencing my attitude: The more I read the bible, and the closer I get to God, the more I know when I am sinning by my ungodly attitude. When I get angry at my wife, or my co-worker, God’s holy spirit convicts me of that sin much more than in the past.

I have actually thought in my mind…. you can make a choice here… you can just walk away from this anger or you can chose to be sinful and angry…..

4) Why is it so hard sometimes to chose to be happy, rather than choosing to be angry or sad?

Our pride. Sometimes choosing to be happy means forgiving others of something they have done to us. Our pride wants to pay them back or to get angry.

5) Talk about a time when God used “hard times” to drive you back to the throne of Grace.


Stedman: If prosperity is not always good, as he has clearly shown in Chapter SIX, then it is equally true that adversity is not always bad. Suppose the hard times do come? Many good and even great things can come out of that.


1) A Life Well Lived, A Study of Ecclesiastes. 2005. Tommy Nelson. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

2) Shepherd’s Notes. Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon. 1995. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

3) Adam Clarke’s Commentaries. First release in England in 1810. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.

4) Ray C. Stedman, Title: Why does God allow This? Series: Things that Don’t Work: Ecclesiastes
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:20 Message No: 4 Catalog No: 3809 Date: October 10, 1982

5) Matthew Henry’s Study bible, World Bibles, 1994.

6) Thru the Bible with Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson INC, Nashville, TN. 1983.

Last edited for HTML content on 1.22.2016… God’s blessings upon you all!

Contact Adam




To be taught on 23 October 2005

Leonardtown Baptist Church

Vernon McGee’s comments: This is the last experiment that Solomon tries. He has made experiments in everything under the sun to see if any of it would bring satisfaction and enjoyment to him. He tried science, the study of the natural laws of the universe, which made some contribution but did not satisfy him. Then he went into the study of philosophy and psychology. They didn’t satisfy. He went the limit on pleasure and materialism. He tried fatalism, which is such a popular philosophy of life today. He tried egoism, living for self. Then he tried religion — no religion can satisfy because only Christ can satisfy the heart. Wealth was another thing which Solomon tried. He was the wealthiest man in the world, but he found that wealth did not bring satisfaction in and of itself.

Now we will see him try the last experiment: morality. Today we would call him a “do-gooder.” I would say that this is the place to which the majority of the people in America are moving. (I think the majority would still be classified as do-gooders.) They are going down the middle of the road on the freeway of life. This group can be described as the Babbitts, doing business in the Big City, under a neon sign, living out in suburbia, in a sedate, secluded, exclusive neighborhood, and taking it easy. Their children go to the best schools. They move with the best crowds. They go to the best church, the richest church in the neighborhood, the one with the tallest steeple, the loudest chimes, and the most educated preacher, who knows everything that man can possibly know, except the Bible (of course, if he did know and preach the Bible, he would lose his job). This is the kind of do-good society Solomon now tries.


QUESTION for the group: The study book says that “trials, such as cancer, have a very beneficial purpose, they purify you.” What do you think that means? Give examples:

Trials show you what you are.

They put your faith to test.

Whatever comes out of you when you are hit, shows who you really are.

Trials perfect you. It will bring you to the end of your physical, intellectual rope.

Trials make you pray and go to the bible.

Trials make you trust.

Trials make you go to Christ.

Trials prove you.

Trials humanize you, they can make you sweet and sensitive.

QUESTION for the group: How does the group feel about this quote from A.W. Tozer: “God cannot use a man until He has hurt him deeply.”

Certainly is true in my case. God had to drive me to my knees before I would listen….. (1) Mary’s illnesses and (2) crisis at work

QUESTION for the group: What would you do if you only had ONE MORE DAY to live?

Go around the room, ask for answers. Discuss.

Discuss how that day would be different than the way we are actually going to live out the rest of this week, month, year.


1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.

“A good name” = God is committed to our character, not our “ointments or perfume”.

What does “fine perfume” represent in this text?

That is how people during this era got ready for a party. They would dress up for the occasion and put on their best perfume.

What is Solomon saying when he says “and the day of death better than the day of birth”?

Our study book says, “If you want character and a good name, sometimes death is better than life.” Sometimes a funeral is better than a party because pain makes you real. Pain can get you thinking straight.”

2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Why does Solomon say that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting?

Because in a house of mourning you see the end of every man. The wise person will take it to heart. The house of mourning will change you.

I REALLY liked the point that Tommy Nelson (author of our books) said here….”I can go preach a sermon at the bar, but people don’t want to listen because they are too busy laughing. But whenever I conduct a funeral, I have the audience’s full attention. Funerals are a reminder that one day you are going to die.”

3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.

Why does Solomon say that “sorrow better than laughter”?

A person who is laughing is not facing reality. He’s not learning anything about the nature of life; he’s just pretending that happiness will make him whole. But man’s highest purpose is not simply to enjoy life, but rather to know God.

OK, at this point, it is important to remember what Solomon is trying to teach us here. Here’s trying to teach us that hard times are useful, they serve a purpose, they force us to reach out to God. I think Solomon is just like one of those old time, southern Baptist evangelists like my dad was (is), he restates things, time and time again, sometimes over exaggerating the point, just to drive the point home.


4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

SUMMARY OF 1-4: Knowledge alone will not save us or allow us to escape the fact of our mortality. In fact the wisest thing we can do is face death and reckon with the issue of how we ought to spend our days.

QUESTION for the group: Is the point of all of these scriptures so far that we should be MISERABLE? If not, what is the point?

We should face facts soberly and make good decisions about how to spend our limited time.

QUESTION for the group: Has anyone here ever had a near death experience? Something that really shook you up and forced you to face your mortality?

struck by lightning, a bad car wreck where other people died, etc.

Did it actually change your opinions about life?

5 It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.

How many of you can honestly say that you respond “favorably” when someone rebukes you? What is our natural tendency?

Can someone give an example of when a wise man’s “rebuke” led you in the right direction?

Pastor John Fields took me aside for quite a few discussions after I first became a deacon. Sometimes I came on a little strong, or I said things that might offend the other deacons….his counsel was wise and timely and CORRECT! God used John to help me relate to the other deacons.

Prov 9:8 (NIV) Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.

Prov 15:31 (NIV) He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.

What is this “crackling of thorns under the pot” stuff? What’s that all about?

Study book: Thorns are great to start a fire with because they burn bright and hot. But the also burn quickly and then they are gone. While they are burning they crackle and pop like laughter.

Solomon is saying that a fool’s laughter is like burning thorns. It sounds great and makes a lot of noise, but it’s gone in a flash.

7 Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

OK, so where are we going here? Why would a wise man even consider extortion, or why would a wise man consider a bribe?

Power, more and more power. Being surrounded by godless people, who seek power and position, can tempt you. In order to keep up with them, if you are “power” driven, you might be tempted to these type of things in order to succeed.

Summary of this verse….be just and live with integrity.

8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Relating verse 8 to verse 7….verse 7 talks about extortion, and verse 8 talks about the “end of a matter”. So, what he’s saying here is just be patient, be true, don’t get ahead by extortion or bribery. If you do things the right way, the Godly way, then the “end” will be better than the beginning.

9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Tommy Nelson discussed that this text was actually talking about getting mad at God Himself. Getting angry for a death of a loved one, your sickness, etc.

Have patience with God, his ways are better than our ways.

You are a fool if you choose to become angry at God.

SUMMARY OF 8 & 9. Cynics and fools laugh at the “stupidity” of trying to maintain righteousness in a world where corruption is the norm and where money rules everything. But a person should patiently wait to see how things turn out. Wisdom is justified in the long run.

10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Do not complain to God asking Him why he isn’t doing what he used to do…complaining that your life used to be good but now it’s hard.

Remember, God knows what is good for you….you do not.

11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.

QUESTION: How do we obtain “wisdom” or knowledge? Can we get it from just reading about it?

No, usually you have to “experience” it before you can understand it and help someone else through it. That’s why God will let us suffer some times. To give us wisdom.

12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.

The wisdom that God gives you is meant to protect you, or mold you, in your daily lives.

There is a family that goes to this church, I will keep their name anonymous. This is a true story. A father, a mother, a son in his early teens, and a daughter approaching her teen age years. The son is in the youth group. Before his mother was diagnosed with a life threatening disease, this boy was an unbelievable problem child. One of the most challenging I have ever had the displeasure of trying to teach. But then, we all got news about his mother being gravely ill…. the kind of illness that can easily result in death. Over the last year I have seen this boy change, I mean totally change. Now, that same boy, is one of the most pleasant boys in the youth group. I truly enjoy being around him. He is now kind, and courteous, and helpful.

That’s how God works. This news did not have to change this kid for the better, actually things could have gotten worse. But the father and the mother never faltered in their worship. They came week after week, praying and serving and worshipping God. I believe GOD Himself gave the son “wisdom.” God used this scary experience to reverse this young man’s negative behavior.

13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?

QUESTION: Do we sometimes want to change what God has done, or is doing in our lives? Do we sometimes want to take matters in to our own hands and run it ourselves?

Solomon reminds us that we can not change God’s ultimate plan. Embrace God’s plan for your life.

14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.

How many of us, when good stuff happens to us, wait for the other shoe to drop?

Remember that song, back in the mid 80’s….”Don’t worry, be happy.” When God send you His blessings, rejoice in it!

When times turn back, stay with God and remember that He is probably trying to teach you something. Have faith in God, continue to rejoice, and persevere.

Prov 3:6 (KJV) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I like what Tommy Nelson said about this scripture: “If you are in a time of pain and adversity right now, be patient. A day of prosperity is coming. And if you are in a time of prosperity, in which everything is great, start preparing. A day of pain and prosperity and adversity is just around the corner.

SUMMARY OF THE LAST FEW VERSES: Although neither wealth nor wisdom can save us from the limitations of our mortality, both have their place in life. We should accept our limitations, fear God, and live balanced lives.


VERSES 15 TO 29: Solomon is going to remind us that we need to have a correct perspective on not only “adversity” but also ourselves. A person who hasn’t learned humility will always have a problem with God.


So far in this chapter we have discussed (1) prosperity isn’t always good and (2) adversity isn’t always bad. Now we will discuss trusting God even when things don’t add up.

15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.

Off the top of your heads, what “righteous people” do you know of died for righteousness sake?

Jesus Christ

All but one of the apostles


On the other side of the coin, what “wicked” men (women) have you seen living long is his/her wickedness?

Madona…corrupted millions of children, starting the MTV craze.

Larry Flint – Hustler magazine. Pornography is a proven home wrecker and corrupter of minds.

Hugh Hefner – Playboy magazine. This guy is so bad, he even passed his pornography business to his DAUGHTER!

16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise– why destroy yourself?

What is this saying? Is this saying that we should just be mediocre Christians? Is this saying that if we work hard to be righteous and wise that we will destroy ourselves?

Our study guide points out that this scripture is saying that we shouldn’t think we are smart enough or wise enough to understand what God is doing.

However, isn’t this also saying to not be a “holier than though” kind of person…. a person who “knows it all” type? God doesn’t want a show off either. A “know it all” or an overly righteous person can actually bring damage to the kingdom of God.

Off the top of your heads, can anyone give me a few scriptures that says we are to keep growing, we are to keep striving, we are to get wiser?

2 Cor 13:11 (NIV) Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Matt 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Peter 1:16 (NIV) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

17 Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool– why die before your time?

How many of us have done wicked or STUPID things? Before you were Christians, did you ever drink and drive? Did you ever intentionally go out of your way to hurt or damage someone in a wicked moment?

18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes].

Grasp one = verse 17…do not be overwicked and don’t be a fool.

let go of the other = verse 16.. do not be overrighteous or overwise. Remember, you are just a sinner saved by grace. Not of works, you can not earn it.

Fearing God will put you in the right perspective.

19 Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.

OK, so we’ve talked about how we gain “wisdom” from the lessons that God teaches us. Now, how many of you have heard the saying “be careful what you ask for?”

James 1:5 (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

So….chew on that for a little while. How many of you have asked for wisdom but then moaned and groaned when life became hard? God is answering your prayers but you complain about it.

Yes, it is good to ask God for wisdom, we should constantly strive for wisdom from God. But, just so you know, wisdom might come from a few of life’s school of hard knocks too. Wisdom is just not being able to understand that scripture, or remember the scriptures, wisdom also comes from the experiences in life.

I like what Tommy Nelson said here ” You can surround yourself with the greatest men, but if you know and fear God, you’re ahead of the pack.

More scriptures on wisdom:

Prov 24:5 (NIV) A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength;

Prov 8:11 (NIV) for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

20 There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.

Romans 3:10 (NIV) As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you–

Look at verse 20 first, then look at this verse.

So, let me ask you…. as Christian men and women, have you ever done or said anything that would make a person NOT like you?

Of course, everyone has. We all make mistakes.

In other words…what is this saying?

Don’t be surprised or hurt when you hear that people don’t like you because of your sin. And, don’t be surprised when, because of your sin, people have a reason to NOT like you.

And why did this verse particularly say “you may hear your servant cursing you”? Why “servant”?

Because your employees know the “true” you. You can fool some people that you don’t see routinely, but your employees see the real you.

Now, how do we react when we hear bad things about us? Do we turn inward and evaluate ourselves? Or, do we become angry and strike back? What’s our natural response?

22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.

You reap what you sow? What goes around comes around.

Shepherd Notes: Verses 19-22….we need to learn how to get along with people, lead people, and get the best from people, even though they are all sinners. Another way of saying this is that we need to understand what agape love is all about.

What is “agape” love? Dictionary: Love as revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.

23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”– but this was beyond me.

I tried as hard as I could, I tried to get wiser, but I couldn’t. Man can only obtain “so” much on his own. There is a limit even for the richest king, the wisest king, that ever walked our planet.

24 Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound– who can discover it?

25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

NOTE: The Shepherd’s Notes says this about verses 26 to 29. “The key to interpreting verses 26 to 29 is to recognize that it builds upon Genesis 3:15 – a text that teaches that because of sin, family life will be filled with grief.”

It also says…” The Teacher’s point is not that marriage is a bad thing or that righteous people should avoid it. Rather, those who fear God can have a marriage that is characterized by love instead of strife. but just as sin has corrupted the political realm, so it has also corrupted marriage.”

26 I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.

27 “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things–

28 while I was still searching but not finding– I found one [upright] man among a thousand, but not one [upright] woman among them all.

29 This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.”

Shepherd’s notes: Summary of verses 15 to 29: ” The teacher here took a serious look at human virtue and sin. He concluded that we should fear God but not be driven by religious scruples, that we should be forbearing in the face of the fact that all people are sinners, and that it is only through the fear of God that we can have a happy domestic life.”


1) Why do you think it is so easy for us to have a higher opinion of ourselves than we should? What are some of the motivations that lie behind this?

2) Has there been a time in your life when you were overwhelmed by someone’s sin against you? Does it help to remember that you have also sinned against others? Why or why not?


1) A Life Well Lived, A Study of Ecclesiastes. 2005. Tommy Nelson. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

2) Shepherd’s Notes. Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon. 1995. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

3) Adam Clarke’s Commentaries. First release in England in 1810. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.

4) Ray C. Stedman, Title: Why does God allow This? Series: Things that Don’t Work: Ecclesiastes
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:20 Message No: 4 Catalog No: 3809 Date: October 10, 1982

5) Matthew Henry’s Study bible, World Bibles, 1994.

6) Thru the Bible with Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson INC, Nashville, TN. 1983.

Contact Adam





Taught on 30 October 2005

Leonardtown Baptist Church

Our study book says that this chapter discusses “How Should I Act When There Doesn’t Seem Any Way To Win In Life?”

This chapter discusses being courageous in Life and being bold in doing right even if you are not rewarded.

1 Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.

In other words, “What authority is intelligent enough to be compared with a person who has a Bible in his hand and who knows God’s will?

Solomon is saying that the wise person is illuminated and has so much joy that you can see it on his face.

Our study book talks a lot in this chapter about “Poise”. Can someone define poise for us?

Poise means that you do not “shift” due to outside circumstances.

I really liked what our study book discussed for this verse: “that there is no greater privilege than understanding where we came from, who we are, where we are going, how sin is removed, and what the will of God is.”

We’ve briefly mentioned this before…but for us born again Christians the “wisdom” that we have of God should give us a bright face and we shouldn’t walk around with a “hard appearance” as mentioned in verse one.

Solomon is saying that in a world full of questions, it’s wonderful to know the absolutes of life. We know and understand that God is in control of our life and that the creator of our universe is with us and on our side.


Wisdom “brightens a man’s face”: Can anyone remember times in the bible when a man’s face was brightened?

Moses when he came down from the mountain.

Ex 34:30 (NIV) When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.

Jesus when he was transfigured when he was with Peter, James and John.

Matt 17:1-3 (NIV) After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Stephen…when he was in the Sanhedrin and the Jews were plotting against him.

Acts 6:15 (NIV) All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Obey the King

2 Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.

OK, that’s not too hard to understand.

Ezra 7:26 (NIV) Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.

Prov 24:21 (NIV) Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious,

Romans 13:1 (NIV) Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

So, how many of you have heard your friends, or even “Pastors” of churches talk “bad” about a certain “PRESIDENT” of our country…. President Clinton, or President Bush, etc.

What does the bible say about talking “bad” about your President? Would God approve of such talk?

Romans 13:1 says, as we discussed a few chapters ago, that the authorities that exist have been established by God….so…. if we talk bad about a government, are we really out of God’s will?

FIRST reason to obey government: because you are a citizen of that government. Remember this…”I pledge allegiance, to the flag..”. When you said that as a child, or as an adult, you made a pledge, or a commitment to obey the laws of the land.

Obedience is not always based on convenience. Getting called to jury duty as you are leaving for vacation is not convenient.

I liked what Will Rogers said about government: “We should be glad that we don’t have as much government as we’ve paid for!”

3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.

Do not be in a hurry: (Be patient)

Prov 14:29 (NIV) A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

Do not stand up for a bad cause: (Use your head…before you lose it)

Prov 16:14 (NIV) A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man will appease it.

4 Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

SECOND reason why we should obey government (v 3 & 4): Because it has power to compel us to do so.

5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.

THIRD reason to obey government: because if we do, no harm can come to us from the government.

Verses 2 through 5: Our study book makes the following points:

These verses remind us that we are called to obey authority. Don’t abandon that position.

Even if you have an evil King, don’t panic.

Every time a person in the Old Testament rebelled against the king, he ended up being killed.

Nobody can challenge the king, he will do what he pleases.

It takes patience and trust in God to submit to frail, human authority (the King).

Our study book also used the story of David and Saul. David, who could have killed King Saul many times, did not kill him. He maintained his “poise” and obeyed God.

Does anyone remember a New Testament book that says almost the exact same thing as verses 2 through 5?

Romans 13, verses 1 through 7. Someone read that for us please.

6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.

Proper Time = voting day…. vote the evil king out! There will also be times when you are “asked” for your input (polls, election meetings, letters, etc.), those are the proper times to face the political agendas.

though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.

It is HARD for us to remain quiet. We all have the natural tendency to try to fix things. But, these scriptures remind us to have patience. A time and a place will eventually be revealed so that you can correctly voice your opinion and take the necessary actions.

Don’t we believe that God can take an evil man “out” at any time? Anytime he wants to, can’t God turn a government upside down? What recent world events prove this?

The overthrow of IRAQ.

Though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him“… so, this is just saying that even though we suffer because of an evil or misguided King, God is still in control. AND, here we go again, God is not making it easy on us is He. Once again we are to occasionally suffer from injustice.

I liked this statement (question) out of our study books: “If you are going through great struggles right now, how much of your difficulties involve things you can’t change and how much involves things you can change? Verse 6 indicates that you need not worry about the things you can not change. Rest in the sovereignty of God. The things you can change, you need to change.”



7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?

Since no man knows the future”: Obviously, God has gotten you here in our church somehow. How many of you had to make “choices” that affected you being here right now? For example, I had prayed and prayed to God to lead me to a good Church after I retired from active duty. I got this job offer in Maryland, and I lived in Florida at the time. I didn’t know about LBC, but I trusted that God was leading me in the right direction. After 3 years of prayer, I felt God was answering my prayers, so I listened and I followed. And, here I am today. In the best church I’ve ever had the pleasure of worshipping God in. I could not foresee all that!

Are there any other examples from the group here today?

We can look at this in lots of ways when we are talking about the “FUTURE”.

We can look at this pertaining to our personal future, or our governments future, our church future, etc.

How many of you here today have been praying, and praying, and praying about something but it doesn’t seem like God is answering your prayer about something?

Why? What are some of the things that might be preventing God from answering your prayers right now?

Right now I have a MAJOR prayer. I’ve been praying that my oldest son get saved. Out of my six children, he’s the only one that hasn’t accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior.

This too is out of my control. I can pray, and pray, and pray. After that, I’m just called to let God handle the rest. God hears my prayers and will answer them in his own time.

Our study book reminds us that we are not supposed to keep a stopwatch on God. We are to remain POISED. Keep going to church, keep singing, and keep listening.

8 No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

The Stedman commentaries say that this verse discusses the possibility of losing your life when obeying the government, like when you go to war.

Looking at this verse it makes three statements: (1) death is wholly in God’s hands. You can go through a combat zone, people will die next to you, left and right of you, but for some reason, you live. God is totally in control, not you. (2) It states that there is no discharge in time of war. War involves a total commitment to your government to try and preserve the integrity and values of our government. As such it requires the wholehearted commitment of it’s citizens. (3) And lastly it says that war does not justify wickedness. A soldier who disobeys the laws of justice while he is wearing the uniform can be guilty of murder just like any private citizen. Wicked violence is not justified.


9 All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.

Governments come from God right? Both the old and new testaments tell us that.

BUT, evil in government arises from the evil in fallen man, living in a fallen world. “There are none righteous, no not one.”

Does “evil” usually win?

They might, maybe, win in this world. They don’t usually win for their entire life. Their time of ruling is usually brief.

But, there is a judgment day a coming….and we all know that they won’t win in heaven, and that lasts for an ETERNITY.

10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried–those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

Any idea what this means: “come and go from the holy place”?

The sacred office which they held. Annointed as either kings or priests to God.

receive praise” : some Hebrew manuscripts show this scripture as reading “receive praise and are forgotten”

Once again, good or bad, the end is the same. Men are eventually forgotten and we can’t control the sovereignty of God.

11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.

“Sentence for a crime: Why does God not immediately punish us for our crimes?

God’s longsuffering is meant to give us time to repent of our sinful ways. If he punished us immediately, every time, he’d be constantly punishing us.

Since God doesn’t punish us immediately, what do we do? What do we think?

Since God doesn’t punish us immediately we think that he disregards evil acts; and therefore we are tempted to sin even more because of our sinful nature.

Does anyone here know the significance of the usage of the word “heart” in this scripture?

According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably. So, this is actually an extremely powerful statement.

12 Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.

If God is so merciful to the unrepentant sinner as to delay their punishment, surely he will be peculiarly kind to them that fear him and endeavor to walk uprightly before him.

I know that it will go better with God-fearing men: Anyone know of any scriptures that tell us this:

Deut 4:40 (NIV) Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

Isaiah 3:10 (NIV) Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.

13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them : God will judge the wrong in his own time. God will preserve the innocent.

QUESTION: Do evil men get away with evil things indefinitely on this earth? Don’t we believe that for the most part, evil men will be found out one day and will be punished for their deeds?

Job 20:5 (NIV) that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.

Once again, as in previous chapters, Solomon is telling us to not be surprised by injustice. Just know that it is out there and God is still in control.

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

QUESTION: If we were sad every time we saw an injustice in this world, would there ever be a time when we could be happy?

1 Tim 6:17 (NIV) Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth–his eyes not seeing sleep day or night–

When I applied my mind to know wisdom = Adam Clarke’s commentary:

This is the reply of the wise man, “I have also considered these seeming contradictions. God governs the world; but we can not see the reasons of his conduct, nor know why he does this, omits that, or permits a third thing. We may study night and day, and deprive ourselves of rest and sleep, but we shall never fathom the depths that are in the Divine government; but all is right and just. But eternity is at hand; and then shall every man receive according to his works.”

17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

God’s nature is such that (1) That a man cannot find it out and (2) that if he does labor to find it out he shall not succeed and (3) it is beyond our abilities.

S/N = “When wisdom fails, we must simply trust God and realize that we are in His hands. It is more important that we yield to Him than that we know how to master life itself.


1) A Life Well Lived, A Study of Ecclesiastes. 2005. Tommy Nelson. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

2) Shepherd’s Notes. Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon. 1995. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

3) Adam Clarke’s Commentaries. First release in England in 1810. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.

4) Ray C. Stedman, Title: Can we Trust Government ? Series: Things that Don’t Work: Ecclesiastes Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:20 Message No: 4 Catalog No: 3809 Date: November 21, 1982

5) Matthew Henry’s Study bible, World Bibles, 1994.

6) Thru the Bible with Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson INC, Nashville, TN. 1983.



Taught on 20 November 2005

Leonardtown Baptist Church

“How Should A Christian Deal With An Uncertain Future and Growing Old?”

OUTLINE for our upcoming study:

Be courageous in Life = Eccl 8:1 to 12:8

Be bold in doing right even if you are not rewarded = Eccl 8:1 to 10:12

Be bold in enjoying life, although death will come.

Can someone share with the group a time in your life when you had something planned perfectly, every “t” was crossed and every “i” was dotted, but your plans fell apart?

Another question for the group. Have many of you are “what if” people?

Well, I can’t do that, what if this should happen….or…what if that should happen?

How many of you know people like that?

Another question for the group. Before I ask you this question about yourselves, I’ll tell you in advance that I AM one of these people. This fear still controls me in certain circumstances

How many of you would do “more” but you are afraid of failure? Example: How many of you have thought that you wouldn’t mind teaching a class, but the thought of public speaking scares you so much that you don’t do it?

In this chapter Solomon will explain to us that life is full of unexpected contingencies. Solomon says we can live boldly even though life is unpredictable.

Bread Upon the Waters

1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.

Our study book explained the “cast your bread upon the waters” line. It refers to doing business in grain by putting it on a ship and having to set sail to be traded…casting it on the waters.

The only way to get that financial return on your investment was to take the “some” risk.

Isaiah 32:8 (NIV) But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.

Ray Stedman’s commentaries point out that this verse is also referring to “giving” generously. Cast your bread out generously upon the waters, for after many days, when you might need help too, it will come back to you. In other words, “What goes around, comes around.”

SUMMARY: Don’t be afraid of doing good, even though the reward might be late in coming…at least in this world…

2 Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.

OK, let me ask you. Where do we hear this advice in today’s society all the time? Dividing your portions? Diversifying?

Stock market. Your portfolio manager will constantly tell you that you should not have all your eggs in one basket.

Speaking of “Portions”….where should some of our “portions” go? What does the bible say?

We should give some of our portions to the less fortunate:

Neh 8:10 (NIV) Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

1 Tim 6:18 (NIV) Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Luke 6:30 (NIV) Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

In keeping with Stedman’s comments above about giving generously, Stedman goes on to say that this verse also means to give as generously as you possibly can, and then some more.

for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land = Well, don’t take this the wrong way, but this verse makes good political sense. This verse tells you to give good and hard, as much as you can, because you might have problems one day and the more people you have helped, the more you might have that want to help you in return when you really need it.

3 If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.

One of the commentaries said that this verse was a pair of proverbs on misfortune: “If clouds are full (that is to say….if it looks like a storm is coming) they pour out rain upon the earth”. In other words, we should try to read economic conditions and act accordingly. Which way a tree will fall basically means “Which ever way the cookie crumbles” type of thing, in other words, what will happen will happen.

Adam Clarke’s commentary: We should act as the clouds; when they are full they pour out their water indifferently on the field and on the desert. Give charity indiscriminately. He goes on to explain even if you occasionally give it to the unworthy that is better than trying to discriminate and then not giving it to the real needy.

Other commentaries said that this confusing verse was actually referring to God’s continued blessings upon us. Sometimes we get them, sometimes our neighbor gets them:

Clouds full of water: God sends the rain for our crops,

Tree falling: Wood for fires. Sometimes for us, sometimes for our neighbors.

Psalms 65:9-10 (NIV) You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. 10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV) As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

LET US ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING WE HAVE IS PROVIDED BY GOD, OUR PROVIDER AND REEDEMER. All he would need to do is make a whisper and our clouds would dry up and our farms would become desert.

Now, let’s talk about the last verse that we just read, Isaiah 55:11….. 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it…….Someone explain to me what this verse just told us! This is a BEAUTIFUL, awesome, stand-up-and-shout kind of promise!

God’s Word, the Holy Bible, can NOT return empty. God will accomplish what He wants for His purpose.

When God inspires you share a scripture with someone, when God leads you to give someone a bible, God’s Word can not, will not, return void.

4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

watches the wind = How many of you have “delayed” life while trying to figure out what to do? Trying to figure out which way the wind will blow type of thing.

looks at the clouds = How many of you have procrastinated and didn’t act on something, kind of looking at the clouds type of thing….then you procrastinated so long that you didn’t reap?

College / education

Scholarship applications

Finding a new job

Buying that new house

Stedman, in terms of giving says: “watches the wind will not plant” means that do not wait until the perfect time to give (until you have more money than you need) because the perfect time will never come. Give while the need is present.

In other words, verse four tells us to not be so cautious that we never act.

5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

In other words…. Don’t let what you don’t know, disturb what you do know.

Life is unpredictable and mysterious, but God is the Maker (and controller) of all things. Have faith, rest in the knowledge that God, our Father, loves us and will provide for us.

John 3:8 (NIV) The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Sow your seed in the morning. Obviously this was making a reference the “farming”, but what other “sowing” could Solomon be referring to here?

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

2 Cor 9:6 (NIV) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

This is with everything…. tithing…giving to others…your time in bible study… love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.

Be ready at all times to show mercy, to give generously. Start sowing in the morning, continuing to evening.

ALSO, this verse is saying to attempt to try a lot of things, not just a few things. In church, try singing in the Choir, or teaching a Sunday School class, or helping with the Home School ministry. Try lots of things and find out which ones God will bless.

let not your hands be idle = once again, another scriptural reference to “work”. (Steve Vellines knows his stuff!)

Remember Your Creator While Young

7 Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.

Life is good…. OK, we have time for one more verse….”Don’t worry, be happy.”

8 However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.

days of darkness = when you get old and start to slow down.

Everything to come is meaningless…everything to come on THIS EARTH is meaningless. We were not created just for this earth, to just “be here” and now. We were created to have a relationship with God, for all eternity.

9 Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.

How many of you, like ME, wasted so many days of your strong youth on the wrong pursuits? Pursuits of the “flesh.” How many of you have thought, “Man, if I just would have followed God for all those years, how much more he could have used me for His purposes!

Question….is this something that we just all have to go through, do we all need to sow our wild oats before we start listening to God and following his will?

As parents, what role do we have to play in this? Can we teach or train our children so that they do not waste their youthful lives in childish, youthful pursuits?

“Young Man”…..As in the book of Proverbs, Solomon addresses the “Young Man” group so that they may receive special attention in Wisdom Literature because they represented the leadership for the future.

Whoa…OK, this makes the most sense. Be happy, youth is great, enjoy your life, but be careful. Play within the rules. Don’t sow wild oats because judgment time is around the bend.

How many of you think that the secular world thinks that we Christians are just plain old unhappy people? Do we Christians usually look like we are happy? On TV, when they talk about Christians, is it synonymous with happiness?

10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.

So, here’s how to live:

FIRST: Remove anxiety from your mind/heart. The King James uses “Vexation” which combines anger and resentment. Don’t let things gnaw at you that are ungodly.

SECOND: Cast off the troubles of your body.


wrong use of sexual powers

things that are bad for you like excessive drinking, smoking, any kind of things that are bad for your body.

THIRDLY and lastly: Recognize that being “Young and having vigor” was NOT the reason why you were created. That type of thinking is meaningless. Being young will not satisfy. Recognize that the only meaningful thing in life is recognizing WHO God is! Having a full time, meaningful RELATIONSHIP with God. Life finds its fulfillment, its meaning, its significance, only as you develop a relationship with the living God daily. ETERNITY ALONE IS PERMANENT, LIVE FOR ETERNITY.


1) A Life Well Lived, A Study of Ecclesiastes. 2005. Tommy Nelson. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

2) Shepherd’s Notes. Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon. 1995. Broadman & Holdman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

3) Adam Clarke’s Commentaries. First release in England in 1810. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.

4) Ray C. Stedman – Title: How, then, Should we Live? Series: Things that Don’t Work: Ecclesiastes

5) Matthew Henry’s Study bible, World Bibles, 1994.

6) Thru the Bible with Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson INC, Nashville, TN. 1983.

Powered by WordPress