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The Scriptorium

A Levitical Oversight

So, where are the Levites? Nehemiah 13.10-14

Return from Exile: Nehemiah 13 (3)

Pray Psalm 46.1-3.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

Sing Psalm 46.1-3.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee as We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea engulf the mountain range.
Waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.

Read Nehemiah 13.1-14; meditate on verses 10-14.

What were the Levites doing?

Why were they having to do this?


As he was cleaning out the storeroom where Tobiah had set up his man cave, Nehemiah noticed two things more. First, where were the Levites? And second, why were the other storerooms empty?


The people, who had vowed so publicly to bring all their tithes into the storeroom to meet the needs of the Levites who served them, had stopped doing so. And the rulers of the city did nothing to remind them of their commitment or help them keep it. Thus, the Levites, needing to support themselves and their families, had gone off to work the fields (v. 10). Were this to continue, the services at the temple—which kept the people connected to and growing in the LORD—would have been compromised, if not discontinued.

This oversight needed to be redressed. Nehemiah did not fault the Levites; rather, he put the rulers of Jerusalem on the hot seat (v. 11), demanding an explanation for the neglect of God’s house. That accomplished, the people “brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse” (v. 12). But they did so under compulsion, not because their hearts were in it.

Nehemiah next brought new management to the storerooms to make sure the Levites were provided for in a timely manner (v. 13). Fearing that all the good work he had done to restore order and decency to the worship of God, Nehemiah called on the Lord to preserve his work and remember him (v. 14). We need to understand Nehemiah’s cry, “Remember me…”, as being a plea for God to acknowledge and honor his faithfulness. His goal was never self-advancement, but that the house of God and its services might continue and flourish.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Nehemiah worked for an audience of One.
But he needed encouragement, and he sought it from God.
Nehemiah’s job was a thankless one—from humankind.
However a resounding “Well done” was his from the LORD.

During the work in Jerusalem, his cries to God were: “Remember me.”

“Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.”
“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 its services!”
“Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!”
“Remember me, O my God, for good!” (Neh. 5.19; 13.14; 13.22; 13.31)

No doubt, we all feel the need to cry to God for encouragement:
“Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people.
Oh, visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
that I may glory with Your inheritance” (Ps. 106.4, 5).

“Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
for they are from of old” (Ps. 25.6).

We are so thankful that God remembers us for good.

But we are also equally thankful that He does not remember our confessed and forgiven sins.
“Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
according to Your mercy remember me,
for Your goodness’ sake, O LORD” (Ps. 25.7).

“As for God, His way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Sam. 22.31).

God’s mercy brings a perfect balance to His remembering and forgetting.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou are mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
(Wm. R. Featherstone, 1862)

For reflection
1. What will you do today that you would dearly love for God to remember?

2. What have you done recently that you would dearly like for Him to forget?

3. What has God done especially for you of late that you will remember to praise Him for today?

The Levites had been wronged; their portions had not been given them. They were gone to get livelihoods for themselves and their families, for their profession would not maintain them. A maintenance not sufficient, makes a poor ministry. The work is neglected, because the workmen are. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Nehemiah 13.10-14

Pray Psalm 46.4-11.
Give thanks for those who minister the Word of God to you. Pray that they may be diligent and faithful in that calling, and that God will supply all their needs.

Sing Psalm 46.4-11.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee as We Ought)
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.

Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress.
Nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.

Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside.
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.

Rest in the LORD and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail.
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail; thus may our hope and joy increase!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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