The story of the resettling of Jerusalem and the surrounding territories continues in Nehemiah, as the people hear the law, celebrate the feast of booths, and are reminded that they are worshiping “a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love,” who will not abandon them.
Psalm 33 actually reinforces today’s reading in Nehemiah, with an emphasis on the joy of belonging to God and the wonder of His protection for those how fear Him. It ends with a reassuring statement about hope.
20 We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.
There is a contrast between the way the word “hope” is used in the scriptures and the way we use the same word in our culture. When we speak of hope, it is more like a wish, as in “I hope the Red Sox will win tonight,” or “I hope I can catch my plane on time.” In the scriptures, the same word carries with it the weight or faith or belief. In Psalm 33:20, we are encouraged to put our hope “in the Lord,” rather than on our wishes for a certain outcome. The hope is directed at a person rather than a specific upcoming event.