Have you ever attended a wedding reception? It’s one of my favorite events. I love the food, the cake, and the smiles plastered on everyone’s faces. Most of all I love that it makes me think of my own marriage and all the joy, life, and hope wrapped up in that relationship. These few verses in Nehemiah recall a similar occasion, where God’s people were filled with overwhelming joy and hope for the future.
Ezra and his associates had just finished helping the people of God understand Scripture. The people, understandably, “had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law” (v. 9). They had likely realized all the ways in which they had failed to obey the Lord, and the Spirit was convicting them of sin. That is a good and right response, and I only wish that we would all more fully recognize our sin that we would respond with weeping at the Spirit’s conviction.
However, Nehemiah quickly tells the people that this was not the day for weeping and mourning. It was more like a wedding reception, a time of “choice food and sweet drinks” (v. 10). What’s more, the people were to “send some [food and drinks] to those who have nothing prepared.” They were not to keep the joy to themselves; instead they were to live out the command to love their neighbor by providing for those who did not have any with them.
What was the reason for all the rejoicing and feasting? “They now understood the words that had been made known to them” (v.12). There is great joy in understanding Scripture! Just like the feasts after weddings, understanding Scripture is a cause to rejoice and to share that joy with the people around us.
>> Does God’s Word bring you joy? When we let His truth sink into our heart, it can bring a deep sense of personal conviction and repentance. But it can also bring joy that goes beyond anything the world offers!
We rejoice in understanding Scripture, because to know Your Word is to know You! You are the source of all reason, hope, and justice in this life; because of You we can both endure suffering and embrace joy.