hree and ½ weeks had elapsed since the nation first met together to request spiritual instruction from Ezra (Nehemiah 8:2 & 9:1). There were several good things that had happened because of the people's exposure to God's revelations. In addition to the items which we looked at from Nehemiah 8, we find a few more here in Nehemiah 9. After the initial gladness that God caused in the hearts of the people, there was a somber spirit that settled over the city as more and more truth was expounded. Now, perhaps there isn't any point in commending the heavy atmosphere, but we can certainly commend the people for what they did in their sadness. They repented, admitted their guilt, separated from evil and worshiped the Lord continually from day to day... spending time in both prayer and Bible reading (Nehemiah 9:3).
Much of this chapter is devoted to the prayer of the Levites which they prayed in the ears of the people. The prayer is remarkable in that it is a restatement of the history of God's interactions with His people. The prayer began with a reference to Creation and then picking up with Abraham covered major points in Israeli history including the Egyptian bondage, the ministry of Moses, and the conquest of Canaan and so on. The narrative went all the way through the captivity of the people to their then current condition as God's humble servants back at home again in their own land. There was much worship, confession and humility which was threaded into the historical prayer.
This prayer wasn't just about the past. It was a covenant or a commitment concerning the future of the Jews (Nehemiah 9:38). The clergymen of Nehemiah's day stood on the stairs and prayed aloud in front of the congregation on the 24th day of the 7th month of the year that year. And, they apparently did so while sincerely intending to avoid the failures of their past (Nehemiah 9:33… see also the spirit of Ezra 9:13).