After the wall was completed and the people rejoiced and gave thanks, Ezra reentered the picture: “So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (8:2-3).
How did the people respond? “All the people wept as they heard the words of the Law” (8:9). They studied the words of the Law (8:13). “They made confession and worshiped the Lord their God” (9:3). They rehearsed God’s great acts on behalf of his people (chapter 9). They rejoiced in God’s mercies (9:28-29), acknowledging before God, “You have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly” (9:33). And they made “an oath to walk in God’s Law” (10:29). That is, they did just as they ought and as we ought when hearing the Word of God. Hand in hand with the people before Ezra, let our prayer, today and every day, be:
Let me never from thee stray,
keep me in the narrow way;
fill my soul with joy divine,
keep me, Lord, forever thine. -- John Stocker (1777)