Ezra and the Levites caused the people to understand the Law by presenting it distinctly, giving its sense, and helping them comprehend its meaning. We do the same by opening up the spirituality of the Ten Commandments. We tell our hearers that God sees their thoughts, and that He requires truth in the inward parts. We make clear that God considers lust to be adultery and hatred to be murder, etc. We explain that God’s holy, perfect, just, and good Law is the measure against which they will be judged. Those who hear and understand will find a place of contrition before God (v. 9) and at that point will be receptive to the gospel of grace.
“How the people were wounded with the words of the Law that were read to them. The Law works death and speaks terror; shows men their sins and their misery and danger because of sin, and it thunders a curse against every one that continues not in every pact of his duty.
“Therefore, when they heard it they all wept. It was a good sign that their hearts were tender, like Josiah’s when he heard the words of the Law. They wept to think how they had offended God and exposed themselves, by their many violations of the Law; when some wept, all wept, for they all saw themselves guilty before God.” Matthew Henry
Nehemiah 8:9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.