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Book of Nehemiah: Rebuilding Our Faith

The Bible Teacher's Commentary

Paul J. Bucknell

Handling Our Failures
Nehemiah 9:16-31

Guidance Neh 9:1-38 | Intersections Neh 9:1-8 | Cry Out 9:9-15 |
God Guides Neh 9:19-25 | Warnings Neh 9:26-31 | Preparations 9:32-38 | Video

Nehemiah Theme | Nehemiah Outline and Index| Nehemiah Historical Background

Purpose: Handling Our Failures, an exposition of Nehemiah 9:16-18 and 26-31, reminds us the purpose of warnings is not to discourage us into more failure but to show us that God knows we can make the right decisions.

Handling our failures (Nehemiah 9:16-18, 26-31)

We would like to stop there, but we need two other parts of this prayer to gain the full perspective that we need to consistently make those right choices bringing us closer to God and fulfilling His good purposes through our lives. We have spoken on the three events where God intervened and brought grace into this world. These lay the framework for Jesus to come and bring His grace into our lives.

This prayer, however, also gives us further insight into the nature of man and what is needed for us to come to a full and proper grip on the perspective we ought to have of life.

If we are honest, we can learn much from our forefathers. If we are foolish, we will ignore their mistakes, think we are beyond them and fall headlong in worse errors. Both of these sections begin in the same way.

I have heard a number of people, maybe even myself saying, “I’ll never be like them.” What is so interesting is to see that we tend to repeat the problems that we vow not to replicate.

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Notice how these two sections have a similar beginning.

16 “But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Thy commandments. 17 “And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; And Thou didst not forsake them. 18 “Even when they made for themselves A calf of molten metal And said, ‘This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,’ And committed great blasphemies.

26 “But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, And cast Thy law behind their backs And killed Thy prophets who had admonished them So that they might return to Thee, And they committed great blasphemies. 27 “Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. 28 “But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before Thee; Therefore Thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to Thee, Thou didst hear from heaven, And many times Thou didst rescue them according to Thy compassion" (Nehemiah 9:16-18, 26-31).

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Both of these sections start with the word ‘but’ indicating that the expected response of God’s goodness was not realized but rejected. Their behaviors are a bit different.

They acted arrogantly in 9:16 while they became disobedient and rebelled in 9:26. What is it that had so poisoned their lives. They no doubt like us professed to know God but they turned aside from Him. Here are a few tests as seen in these passages.

The Real Test of our Lives

The real test of our soul is whether we are honest about our lives and willing to turn in repentance. Otherwise we will fall into a pattern of response that parallels the hardened heart of this people. God wants to further bless us, but our hearts are so unresponsive, minds forgetful, spirits hardened, that we turn away holding a wrong concept of life.

We need to be careful of our response to such examples. Some professing faith in the Lord see these failures listed here and just assume they can’t be someone special that God can work in. This is the wrong conclusion. The evil one is trying to blind you as to how God can forgive your sins through Christ, mightily fill and use you.

Watch out!

The failures are pointed out to warn us. God is trying to say that if one is not careful, we can and will go that way. Many are turning to immorality, drinking, parties, greed, gossip and justifying it, “That is the way I am.” God wants to show you the end of this path. But He is gently rebuking us to help us choose the better path that He has provided.


This is the time to awaken to how Satan gains access into our lives and poisons us with a false understanding. This is the time to open our lives completely to God’s purposes in our lives.

Let’s now turn to the final key to open our perspective of life.

=> Continue Reading the third perspective needed to make right decisions: Commitment to God’s Will (Nehemiah 9:32-38)

Other BFF Articles related to building strong life foundations:

Titus 3:9-11 : Discerning Convversations - The Bible Teacher's Commentary
Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (9-11) ...

Acts 13:13-50 Paul's First Missionary Journey - Antioch of Psidia
It is interesting that this warning is often not given in today's gospel message . ... Perhaps we need to add a real warning of great danger and peril. ...

Caught in Distraction Hebrews 12:1-2
The warning is for us who are running. The Lord is not warning those who have given up or have fallen. The warning is for us to avoid these snares. ...

2 Samuel 23-24 Handling Success and Failure - Living Commentary on ...
2 Samuel 23-24, Handling Success and Failure, shows the importance of seeking success and avoiding failure. At the end of David's life, these two chapters ...

2 Samuel 24:1-9 records David's great failure in inappropriately taking a census . Attention is given to how Satan used David's pride, reason the consequence ...

Joshua 7:1-5 'Falling into failure' is part '2/5' of the Life Commentary series entitled 'Joshua 7:1-15 Properly Dealing with Defeat & Despair.