To appreciate the incredible compassion of God, we must recognize who He is, what we have done, and how He has responded. In Nehemiah 12, as God’s people are returning to Him in a spiritual sense, we can see these three steps.
From the beginning of the text, the people make it clear that God is far superior to them. They praise Him, saying, “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens…You give life…You are the Lord God” (Nehemiah 9:6-7). The distance between man and God is one of the things that makes His compassion so incredible.
The people also confess their long history of arrogance and pride. They continue their praise, saying, “Our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments” (Nehemiah 9:16-17). Recognizing our weaknesses and failures is necessary to appreciate God’s incredible love, patience, and mercy.
Finally, the people describe God’s continually loving reaction. “But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness” (Nehemiah 9:17).
We should all be thankful for the blessing of God’s incredible compassion. To appreciate it fully, we must recognize who He is, acknowledge what we have done, and remember how He has responded.