5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
6 [a] “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
Today’s reading from the Old Testament gives new meaning to “standing up.” Most of us have experience “standing up” for ourselves. It’s a phrase we hear frequently today . . . standing up for someone’s rights, standing up against injustice, stand up and be counted, etc. The list is really endless. In these cases, “standing up” implies that one is confronting some negative force or action. However, in Nehemiah 9:5, the Levites say, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting.” In this situation, we are told to stand up in a jubilant, joyful, declaration of praise to our God and to always do so. This is all positive, without even a hint of negativity.
I’m struck by this passage and it’s rather obvious insistence on blessing the Lord, our God. Previous passages in this chapter discuss the Levites first hearing God’s Word and confessing their sins, as well as the offenses of their ancestors. They read the law and were repentant. It is at that point that they are told to “Stand up!”
Our loving and gracious God has forgiven our sins. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, and through his death, we have been saved. We don’t need to hide in shame because of our sins. Are we timid in our proclamation of faith? Or are we bold? We are forgiven! Let’s stand up in joyful proclamation of God’s grace.
Loving God, we confess our sins and you forgive us. Lead us in your light, your limitless love and constant guidance as we joyfully proclaim, “You are the Lord, our God!” In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.