A summation of Israel’s history in a prayer

Old Testament: Neh 9.28–31

To read the Bible in a year, read Nehemiah 9–11 on June 19, In the year of our Lord Christ 2021

By Don Ruhl 

When you read of Israel’s journey in the wilderness, and when you read the Books of Judges, the Books of the Kings and the Chronicles, and the prophets, what do you see? The men who spoke the prayer found in Nehemiah 9 summarized their history, speaking it to God, showing him that they realized how they had often failed him and how merciful he had been toward them: 

“But after they had rest,
They again did evil before You.
Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies,
So that they had dominion over them;
Yet when they returned and cried out to You,
You heard from heaven;
And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,
And testified against them,
That You might bring them back to Your law.
Yet they acted proudly,
And did not heed Your commandments,
But sinned against Your judgments,
‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’
And they shrugged their shoulders,
Stiffened their necks,
And would not hear.
Yet for many years You had patience with them,
And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets.
Yet they would not listen;
Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.
Nevertheless in Your great mercy
You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them;
For You are God, gracious and merciful.

– Nehemiah 9.28–31 

It was a continual cycle of Israel sinning, God oppressing them through a foreign power for Israel’s sin, Israel repenting, God delivering Israel, Israel having rest, Israel going back into sin, and so on. Man’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness played out many times over the centuries. 


  • When you scan church history, is the church different than ancient Israel? 
  • Have you ever fallen away? 

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