Read Nehemiah 5
How do we treat fellow believers? That is the subject of this chapter. As the people of Jerusalem were building the wall, a grievous problem arose within the city. The rich were financially oppressing the poor. This wrong was compounded by their situation. They were trying to rebuild the city out of the rubble left from its destruction, and there were enemies on the outside causing trouble for the church. How do we treat our fellow believers and even family members? God’s words in Deuteronomy and repeated by Christ to “love our neighbor as ourselves” come into play here. Are we obedient to the second great commandment? Sing Psalter 24.
Read Nehemiah 6
In fifty-two days the wall surrounding Jerusalem was finished. This was a work of giving. The inhabitants of Israel gave of their time, abilities, material goods, and of themselves to get this work finished. Nehemiah gave of himself in the same way as well. He also had to endure the attacks from enemies within and without the city. As we see in this chapter, Nehemiah did what was right in God’s eyes. He did not fall into Shemaiah’s trap and go into the temple. He knew that he could not go there, because he was not a priest. He led the people in a right way as the walls were rebuilt. People of God’s church and especially the leaders of the church must be doing things in a way that is proper and pleasing to God. Is this our goal? Sing Psalter 368.
Read Nehemiah 7
There is work for the people of God in his church. This was true in Nehemiah’s time, and it is true in this day as well. In verse 2 we read of the two men placed in charge of the gate. This was an important task in those days. The men who were chosen had good qualifications. There are important tasks in the church of God today. Faithful men and those who “fear God above many” must be chosen for those tasks. Each of us must work to have those qualifications placed by our name. Do we? Sing Psalter 419.
Read Nehemiah 8
As Judah was working to restore the life of the church with Nehemiah’s help, they asked Ezra to read from the book of the law. This was a big step. It was violation of the law that had caused their forefathers to be taken into captivity. As they heard the law read and as it was explained to them, they mourned until Nehemiah assured them that those sins had been paid for. He encourages them to keep an important feast as thanksgiving for the return God had ordained for them. We too must desire to read the law and have it read to us, for it is the way of thankfulness for the salvation wrought by Christ on the cross. Sing Psalter 42.
Read Nehemiah 9
After reading the law and realizing their sins, both personal and corporate, a fast was declared. Fasting was a way for the people to concentrate on that which was spiritual. They also were led in prayer by some of the Levites. Like other prayers in the Bible, we do well to read this one and receive instruction in how we must pray. Prayer and fasting go together. We too must exercise ourselves in things spiritual in order to draw closer to our God, who has given to us the way of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Sing Psalter 242.
Read Nehemiah 10
After fasting and prayer, many of the people signed a promise that they would do several things in order to show their thankfulness to God. Basically they said that they would keep God’s law. We hear God’s law read every sabbath day. It shows us our sins and the need for a Savior, but it also shows to us how we can be thankful for our salvation. The people pointed out specifically three laws that they believed were important. They were keeping the church pure by not allowing their sons and daughters to marry ungodly spouses, keeping the sabbath day holy, and caring for the ministers of God with their offerings. Do we do these things? Sing Psalter 191.
Read Nehemiah 11
There was a problem in Jerusalem. There were not enough people to inhabit the city. A solution was found. Some might find it a strange solution. It is a solution that we should consider. The people of the land drew lots with one-tenth of them going to live in Jerusalem. We read in verse 2 that the people willingly gave themselves to live in the city. Do we willingly give ourselves, our time, or our money in service to God and his church? Notice that word willingly. Paul says we must not give of ourselves grudgingly. Here is the opposite. How do we give of ourselves? Sing Psalter 354.
Read Nehemiah 12
As the walls were to be dedicated, once again we read a list of names. This is a list of those who were priests and Levites, who led the worship of Jehovah. These men had an important calling in Jerusalem, whose wall was a picture of God’s protection around his people. Judah was not dedicating just a building project; they were looking towards God’s protection that surrounded them at all times just as the wall did. We must worship him who protects us day and night. We must be thankful for those men whom God has appointed to lead us in that worship just as Judah did. Sing Psalter 256
Read Nehemiah 13
The book closes in a way that men of this world may think strange. Instead of ending “and the people lived happy ever after” the book ends with Nehemiah’s dealing with some of the problems that had crept into the church. We will never find a happy ending in this world. That ending will not come until we reach the heavenly city. Until then we must fight against the evils that Satan will set before us. Like Nehemiah, church leaders must be active against those evils in order to protect the church of God. Only in this way will the good of Zion shine forth. This is the way that his church will be prepared for the happy life in heaven. Sing Psalter 225.
Read Esther 1
The book of Esther can be a hard book for the child of God to figure out. Does what seems to be a nice story with an interesting plot and a happy ending have a place in the Bible? Unless the reader believes in the providence of God, that is all this book has. But as you trace God’s care for his people throughout the Old Testament and know that care will end in the birth of the Savior, then you will find the importance of this book. Even the wickedness of the people written about in this first chapter has a place in our salvation. Sing Psalter 213.
Read Esther 2
Sometimes there are members of God’s church who fail to obey him and seek themselves in life. Such, I believe, are Mordecai and Esther. While Ezra and Nehemiah and the rest of the returned captives were struggling to establish Jerusalem, these two were enjoying the ease of life in Babylon. Mordecai seems to have procured for himself a life around the palace, and when he commands Esther to enter the king’s beauty pageant, she is willing to do so. In all of this, they hide their true identity as members of the Jewish nation. Do the people around us know who we are? Young people, do you hide the fact that you are Bible-believing Christians? Let us be careful that we live all of our lives to God’s glory and honor. Sing Psalter 204.
Read Esther 3
Satan hates God’s church. This is very evident from this chapter of the Bible. We see that Haman not only desired to kill Mordecai and the Jews that he saw every day, but he also desired to kill every Jew in the world. This was Satan’s plan to eradicate those people out of whom the seed of the woman would be born with the purpose of crushing his head. Even though Satan is bound today, he seeks to wreak havoc in Christ’s church. He does not often use the extreme measure of Haman’s day, but he quite often uses more insidious ways. Are we fighting the fight of faith against Satan and his minions daily? Sing Psalter 71.
Read Esther 4
There are two evidences of a lack of faith on Esther and Mordecai’s part in this chapter. There is also more evidence of the providence of God. First, look at verse 14. There is no expression of dependence upon the mercies of God in this horrible time. God had proved himself faithful many times in Israel’s past history. Mordecai does not call upon God for help, but he makes the wishy-washy statement of this verse. Second, we see the traditional signs of mourning because of a calamity: torn clothes, sackcloth and ashes, wailing, and a proclamation of a fast. But where is prayer? When we read of true spiritual fasting in the Bible, it is accompanied by prayer. Do we give ourselves over to daily prayers so that we can pray in times of distress? Sing Psalter 87.
Read Esther 5
God’s providence shines forth in this dark story of lack of faith. Esther’s words in the last chapter (“I perish, I perish”) show that lack of faith. As the story unfolds—after all, it is “His story”—we see God’s care for his people borne out. We must not focus on Esther and Mordecai, but must focus rather on God’s plan for salvation for his people. Satan and evil kings may rage, but it is God who sits in heaven who holds all things in his hand. Sing Psalter 95.
Read Esther 6
In Proverbs we read that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” Here is visible proof of that truth. Ahasuerus’ sleeplessness was not from anything he had done; rather, it was God’s doing. We must see that God sovereignly controls every act of every man with the purpose that his name is glorified and that his church is preserved. Let us note Zeresh’s comment to her husband. She must have known of the Jews’ history, and she sees that the Jews’ God causes all things to work out for their advantage and their enemies’ ruin. This is the purpose of this book: to show forth God in all his majesty and power. Sing Psalter 4.
Read Esther 7
During the second banquet of wine, Esther reveals Haman’s devilish plot. The king becomes incensed and orders Haman’s death. We might be quick to say that he got what he deserved. We would be missing the point if that is all that we gain from this portion of Holy Scripture. We miss the sovereignty of God and the work of his providence in caring for his people. As we have seen before, this care was not just the immediate care of those Jews at that time. That care extends to all of the church as the line of Christ was preserved, as well as the way of salvation. We also must not wonder if that way is in doubt throughout history. Christ will be prevail and has opened the seven seals, preparing the way for his return. Sing Psalter 184.
Read Esther 8
Read verse 16 again. Does this sound like the attitude of those thankful to God for delivering them from death? Does this sound like the attitude of those thankful to God for preserving the way of the salvation of their souls? Yes, they had won a victory. But just as they had not prayed while fasting, we do not read that they prayed prayers of thanksgiving. How do we react when events, by God’s providence, turn out for our good? Do we lift our voices and hearts up to him who sits on the throne in heaven? We should and we must. Prayer is the chief means of thankfulness. Let us always use it for all that God has given to us, but especially for the salvation given to us through Christ’s death. Sing Psalter 181.
Read Esther 9
Through the instrumentality of the king’s new decree, the Jews were able to preserve their lives. However, it appears that they did not just defend themselves, but took the offensive and killed many of the subjects of the kings. It also appears that they killed defenseless people. After the two days of carnage were over, they decided to initiate a feast to remember the two-day slaughter. This was not a feast commanded by God in the Mosaic law; this was a feast added to the church calendar. This God’s people must not do. The regulative principle of worship, given by God in his word, is all we must use in our worship of him. Sing Psalter 152.
Read Esther 10
This curious book ends with a record of a tax laid upon the people of Ahasurerus’s kingdom, as well as an advancement given to Mordecai. What can we learn from this? First, this again shows the character of the book. We have two men who do not bow to God’s sovereignty. As prophesied by Daniel, the Greeks would overthrow the Persians and take away their power. Mordecai, too, would lose his position as decreed by God. Second, we once again are reminded that in his providence, God uses wicked men to fulfill his purposes. His people would remain until Christ would be born of Mary. We can be assured that the church will remain by God’s sovereignty and providence until Christ returns on the clouds of heaven. Sing Psalter 96.
Read Job 1
Job was a real, historical person, as evidenced by mention of him in other Bible passages. While some of the book of Job is historical in nature, the book of Job is found in the poetical section of the Old Testament. Much of it contains long discourses by Job in answer to his friends as well as to God. The last verses of this first chapter have important instruction for us and our lives. In any and all calamities that God brings upon us, we must say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Do we do this daily, or must we be driven to such a confession? Sing Psalter 88.
Read Job 2
In the first two chapters of Job, we get a peek into how things went in heaven in the days of the Old Testament. Satan had not been bound and had entrance before God. God permits Satan to afflict Job to bring forth his faith and patience for the instruction of the church of all ages. This was a trying of Job’s faith. Initially that faith remained strong. We have evidence of that in his answer to his wife. Was Job without sin? The answer to that is no, but yet he was a redeemed child of God. May we daily pray for such patience and faith to endure all the trials and temptations brought upon us. Sing Psalter 202.
Read Job 3
We see in the beginning of this chapter that Job was not sinless. He curses his conception and birth. We might sympathize with him because of the extreme plight in which he finds himself. He has lost goods, all his children, and now his health. Where he once said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” we now find him cursing God’s work in him. There is no excuse for Job in this, just as there is no excuse for us when we fall into similar sins. Job had to be brought to the cross just as we must. Sing Psalter 83.
Read Job 4
Job’s friends have come to comfort him in his affliction. In all there are four, but only three speak at first. From now until chapter 31 we have a cycle of speeches. The friends speak, and then Job answers them. Eliphaz begins by acknowledging Job’s goodness and good works throughout his life. But then he charges Job with some unknown serious sin that has caused God to afflict him in this way. As we read through the discourses we will find many truths that will give us cause to think. Let us look at them for our profit as we walk in this life. Sing Psalter 350.
Read Job 5
Eliphaz continues his discourse about the greatness of God, and reiterates the fact that Job must have sinned. Notice how in verse 10 he speaks of God’s controlling even the rain. In verse 17 we have a statement that we would all do well to heed. God does chastise his people. He does that because he loves them. We need to listen to the chastening of Jehovah and know that it is for our good. Sing Psalter 386.
Read Job 6
Now it is Job’s turn to speak. The pattern through these chapters is that the friends speak and try to show Job what his wrong is, and then Job answers them. Job is not moved by Eliphaz’s speech. He does not think that he has done anything that should cause such drastic ills to come upon him. We find that he still would choose death over life at this point. We need to consider our own ways. Do we, like Job, justify ourselves over the good way of Jehovah? Sing Psalter 362.
Read Job 7
In this chapter Job recounts the sleepless nights that he has endured because of his afflictions. He goes to bed to try to escape the pain and suffering that he is enduring. He finds no comfort there. In this section of his discourse, Job turns his attention from Eliphaz’s speech to asking God, “Why is all this coming upon me?” In the end of the chapter, he seems to be asking for forgiveness of sin, but as we will discover, he continues to justify himself over against God. Sing Psalter 363
Read Job 8
Now Bildad takes up the discourse against Job. He reproves him for his speech, which Bildad says is a strong wind. He asks the question, “Does God pervert judgment?” Then throughout the rest of the chapter he seeks to convince Job that he, like his children, has done a wicked thing. He also points back to days of old where such iniquity has been punished in like manner. He ends up by saying that God will forgive the repentant sinner. As we read through these speeches, we see truth, but misapplied truth. Sing Psalter 291.
Read Job 9
Once more Job takes a turn in speaking. He does not attempt to answer Bildad directly, but speaks rather about God’s judgment and justice. He speaks honorably about God. He also says that God brings judgement upon the wicked and the righteous alike. Notice his allusions to the greatness of God in nature. Job believed in “God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.” Of that there is no doubt. In this chapter he finishes by wishing that he could more directly speak with God. Sing Psalter 364.
Read Job 10
As Job continues his rambling, confused discourse, he states several truths that we should consider. First, he still knows that his trials are at God’s hands, just as he confessed to his wife very early in his afflictions. He also states that he knows not only that God has made him, but that he can also deliver him out of his troubles. Because Job has no answers on this earth, he sees death as the only way of deliverance. We must consider Job and his talk, but we must consider the whole of the book to know how to lead our lives. May we have grace to go to God each day for help in our times of trouble. Sing Psalter 365.
Read Job 11
Now it is Job’s third friend, Zophar, who speaks. He too says many true things about God and his workings. He too charges Job with gross sin and brings no comfort to him. He calls Job wicked and even a hypocrite. As we read these speeches, let us use the truths found in them as good means of instruction. Let us also learn from them how not to approach our friends in their distress. Sing Psalter 25.
Read Job 12
Once again Job answers. We find two parts to this answer. First, Job tells his friends that they do not have all the answers about God. He looks at God’s providence in the world of the created beasts, and tells his friends to learn from them. Then from verse 12 to the end of the chapter he makes a wonderful discourse about God and his sovereignty. Sometimes we forget that God is sovereign and rules all things in our lives. Let us bow before that power every day, trusting in God to lead us in all our way. Sing Psalter 72.