The Honour that Cometh from Man
Esther 6:2-14
And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door…

Unable to sleep, the king calls for something to beguile the weary hours; he has the chronicles of his reign read to him; he is struck with the fact of his own life having been saved by Mordecai, inquires what has been the reward given to this dutiful subject, discovers that nothing whatever has been done for him, and calls for Haman to ask his counsel. Haman is at hand, full of his murderous design against Mordecai. We picture to ourselves his impatience as the king broaches another subject; his secret exultation as Ahasuerus proposes to do honour to some favourite, and as he himself suggests that which would feed his own vanity. We see his astonishment and chagrin as he finds that it is none other than the hated Jew himself who is to be honoured. We mark his prolonged and intolerable vexation as he acts as the agent in carrying out the king's commandment. Concerning the honour that comes from man, we learn here -

I. THE RIGHTNESS OF PAYING THAT WHICH IS DUE AND OF ACCEPTING THAT WHICH IS EARNED (vers. 10, 11). Mordecai, who evidently and commendably made much of self-respect, did not think it wrong to accept the honour the king now laid upon him. He suffered himself to be arrayed in the "royal apparel," he mounted the "horse that the king rode upon," and was led with acclamation through the streets (vers. 8-11). He may have enjoyed it; it was in accordance with Eastern tastes and habits, and he had fairly earned it. It is lawful in God's sight to enter upon and enjoy the fruits of our own exertions; "the labourer is worthy of his hire." Among the rewards that men give their fellows is that of honour. And rightly so. Adulation or flattery is, on the part of those who pay it, simply contemptible, and on the part of those who receive it both childish and injurious; it is a thing to be unsparingly condemned in others, and religiously avoided in ourselves. But to congratulate on hard-won success, to praise the meritorious product of toil and skill, to pay honour to those who have lavished their energies or risked their lives to serve their fellows, this is right and good. And to receive such honours from the lips or the hands of men - if they be meekly and gratefully taken - this tea is right. "If there be any ... praise," we are to "think on" and to practise it. We should praise the praiseworthy as well as condemn the faulty. The approval of the wise and good has had much to do with building up fine characters, and bringing forth the best actions of noble lives.

II. THE VANITY OF RECKONING ON THE HONOUR OF THE GREAT (vers. 6, 10, 13). Haman had risen to high dignity; he enjoyed much of royal favour; he now felt that he might certainly reckon on being the chief recipient of the most signal honour the sovereign could pay. But God has said, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm;" "Put not your trust in man, nor in the son of man;" "Put not your trust in princes." Their favour is fickle; their countenance is changeful; their hand may caress to-day and crush to-morrow. To his unspeakable chagrin, Haman found that the royal hand was about to distribute favour to his bitterest foe, and thus pierce his soul by kindness to another. Covetousness of human honour is a sin and a mistake; it ends in disappointment, sooner or later, as the records of every kingdom, ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, will prove abundantly. It injures the soul also, for it begets a selfishness which finds a horrible satisfaction in others' humiliation, and keeps from a generous joy in others' preferment. Honour "from man only" is good in a low degree. It must not be eagerly coveted as the chief prize, or heavily leant upon as the chief staff of life. "Seek it not, nor shun it."

III. THE WISDOM OF SEEKING THE HONOUR THAT IS OF GOD (ver. 3). "What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?" "There is nothing done for him." Five years had passed, and Mordecai had found his reward in his own sense of doing his duty, and in the approval of the God be served. Apart from the praise and recompense of man, it is worth while to do right, to act faithfully; for there is one Sovereign that does not overlook, and is sure to bless in his own time and way. "Them that honour me I will honour," he says. This honouring of God may be either

(1) that which he causes men to give us, or

(2) his own Divine approval.

This latter is the better of the two, for it

(a) is intrinsically the more worth having;

(b) loads to no disappointment;

(c) "sanctifies and satisfies" the heart; and

(d) is consistent with the enjoyment of the same thing by every one else, and even prompts us to strive to make others possessors of it.

It is not the seed of selfishness, but the germ of generosity. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.

WEB: It was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who were doorkeepers, who had tried to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus.

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