July 8, 2011

Saturday after the Second Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 73, Josh. 23:1-3,11-16, Lk. 6:27-38
Evening - Ps 66, Neh. 4:6, Acts 13:26-43

Commentary

The Lectionary passes from the second to the fourth chapter of Nehemiah. Chapter 3 recounts the beginning of the work on the wall of Jerusalem. The first 5 verse of chapter 4 tell of more mocking and opposition from Sanballat and others. Tonight's reading starts in 4:6, an able summary of these events; "So we built the wall: and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof; for the people had a mind to work." This means the wall was half finished at this point in the book. The enemies here have moved from ridiculing the work to planning actual violence against the Jews (4:8). The apparent vulnerability of the Jews is shown in verses 10-12. They were tired. They were so spread out along the wall that an attacking force could breach their line before the soldiers were able to move in to battle them. Due to the rubble and other conditions, invaders could sneak in close to the wall and launch a surprise attack on the already vulnerable Jews. The solution, everyone builds, and everyone soldiers. They worked in shifts, spending part of the time building and part of the time at ready arms (4:21). Those building kept their weapons at the ready. They were so prepared that those working as builders worked with one hand and carried their weapon with the other (4:16-18). A signal was decided upon. If an attack came at one point, the sentries would sound a trumpet, and all would take their weapons to meet the enemy at the point of attack. They did not retire to their homes at night. They slept at their places on the wall. They did not stop this routine until the wall was completed.

These people have returned to the Covenant. They are possessing the land, and they are doing the work necessary to dwell in the land God had given them.

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