Read Nehemiah 9:32-38. What is the focus of the conclusion of the prayer of confession?
Once again the prayer turns to praising God for who He is: great, mighty, and awesome, one who keeps the covenant and mercy. They seem sincere in their acknowledgment of God’s goodness to them.
They also bring a petition in the form of making a covenant with God, which is described in detail in chapter 10. What is their petition?
“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy: do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us” (Neh. 9:32, NKJV).
The community has to pay tribute to the kings who are over them. Oppression from every side is plaguing the small company of Israelites, and they are tired of it. They have had to endure one tyranny after another, and they are hoping for a reprieve.
Interestingly, they call themselves “servants”. After outlining the infidelity of their nation, they end by referring to themselves with that word. Servants, of course, obey those who are over them. The use of this term, then, implies that they realize they need to obey the Lord in ways that those who came before them didn’t. This is an expression of their desire to be faithful to the Lord and His commandments. And, as servants of God, they are asking Him to intervene in their behalf.
The community of Ezra and Nehemiah describe their current experience as being “in great distress” (Neh. 9:37), which can be compared to the affliction the Israelites experienced in Egypt (Neh. 9:9). Their prayer praises God for seeing their affliction in Egypt and not overlooking it. The community is now asking God to intervene just as He had in the past, even though they don’t deserve it, because no one — kings, princes, priests or prophets, or fathers — was faithful. Thus, they are relying only on God’s grace and mercy to them, and not on themselves or in their ancestors’ works, in hopes that the Lord will intervene in their behalf.