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Day of Delight

Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV) … “Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The people were told, Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. While the reading of the law produced genuine remorse, sacred days were meant as celebrations of God’s benevolence. Ezra instructed the people to enjoy a feast and to eat the best they had. In addition, they were to share with others. Both of these instructions come from the Deuteronomic writings (see Deut. 26).

The commemoration of God’s goodness was to result in joyous festivities, and no sacred food was to be eaten while in mourning. It was a day to delight in being part of God’s covenantal people. Once again we see that this assembly was not a spontaneous get-together but a planned event since the people had already prepared their foods. The instruction to share with those who had nothing prepared probably refers to the poor and the foreigners among them.

Ezra concluded, Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. The emphasis was on God’s grace. Although they had sinned and had not fulfilled the law, God was celebrated as the gracious Sovereign who “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him” (Ps. 103:10–11). Their protection came from God’s grace.

Like backup singers for a soloist, the Levites moved throughout the crowd and calmed all the people, saying “Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.”[1]

[1] Larson, K., & Dahlen, K. (2005). Holman Old Testament Commentary - Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (M. Anders, Ed.; pp. 218–219). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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