Our Attitude Toward God’s Word

Our Attitude Toward God's WordText: Nehemiah 8:1-3

The book of Nehemiah records the effort to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. After it was completed, the people gathered together to hear the law read to them. This is an important passage to consider. It shows how to listen to, to speak, and to respond to God’s word.

Attitude of the Listeners (v. 1-6)

  • They wanted to hear the word (v. 1) – “they asked” for the word; not forced or coerced into coming/listening; we should be eager to hear the word (Acts 17:11)
  • They paid attention (v. 3) – not just present, they “were attentive“; we should not allow other things to distract us from listening (Luke 8:11-15)
  • They were not in a hurry (v. 3) – listened “from early morning until midday” (dawn till noon); we need to remember what is truly important (Matthew 6:33-34); make time for it (Hebrews 10:25)
  • They respected the word (v. 5) – “when he opened [the book], all the people stood up“; sign of respect; respect for the word more than the speaker (1 Corinthians 3:5)
  • They were humble (v. 6) – “they bowed low and worshiped the Lord“; we must receive the word with humility (James 1:21); God’s wisdom is higher than ours (1 Corinthians 1:25)
  • All of these demonstrated that they viewed God’s word as important – we must view it this way as well

Presentation of the Speaker (v. 7-8)

  • They “explained the law to the people” (v. 7) – must teach God’s law, not our opinions; how did they do this? how must we explain God’s law today?
  • They read from the book” (v. 8) – “they read in the book of the law of God distinctly” (KJV); preaching must be based in the word of God (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 4:11); “book, chapter, verse”; this is so people can know we speak the truth (Acts 17:11)
  • They were “translating to give the sense” (v. 8) – explain the meaning of the passages being read; preachings involves explaining (Acts 8:30-35); however, this must be in context; not every explanation is right (cf. Matthew 4:6)
  • They “caused them to understand the reading” (v. 8, KJV) – God’s word can be understood (Ephesians 3:4); preaching must be done in such a way so as to cause people to understand (2 Corinthians 3:12)

Response to God’s Word (v. 9-18)

  • Mourning (v. 9) – “all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law“; why? … they had transgressed the law; people must understand their condition before they will change (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
  • Rejoicing (v. 12) – “all the people went away…to celebrate…because they understood the words“; they knew they could be accepted by God; we can have salvation from God regardless of what we have done in the past (1 Timothy 1:12-16); we deserve death for our sins, but we can receive eternal life by the grace of God (Romans 6:23)
  • Obedience to God’s instructions (v. 13-18) – hearing the word of God alone is not enough (James 1:22); sorrow over sin is not enough (Acts 9:9; 22:16); faith alone is not enough (James 2:24); “Blessed are they that do his commandments” (Revelation 22:14, KJV)


  • We need to have the same respect for God’s word that these people had – listen to it, respect it, humble ourselves, and obey what the word of God says
  • If we will do these things, we can be pleasing to God

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