In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the King's Gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two eunuchs who guarded the king's entrance, grew angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
I. THE INSECURITY OF ANY POSITION THAT IS NOT WELL FOUNDED. The throne of a despot is like a house built on the sand, or like a city under which smoulder volcanic fires. There is no darker page in history than that which records the doings and sufferings of despotic rulers. It is in the nature of an autocratic rule, which subjects the liberty of multitudes to the will of one man, to breed discontents and plottings. When truth and justice are outraged, time only is required to vindicate and avenge them. The first and third Napoleons may be taken as illustrations in modern times. The present Czar of Russia is a just and merciful man, but, occupying a false position, ruling a vast empire not through free institutions, but by personal will, his reign is troubled by the dark conspiracies which now create such fear and horror. The government of that country alone is secure where law and liberty go hand in hand together; where reverence for the throne is maintained by a strict regard for the rights of the people, and where the national constitution and the national life are based on principles that lie deep in the word of God.
II. THE INSECURITY OF LIFE GENERALLY. The king of Persia's life hung by a very slender thread when the two traitors were conspiring. One blow, and all his grandeur would have faded under the dark shadows of death. But all life is insecure. Death has a myriad forms. None are free from it. A cold, a slip of the foot, a breath of unseen vapour may put out the living spark, and quench every earthly hope. A thought so solemn should lead all to take earnest care that their life-building is well founded - built into that foundation of Christian truth and grace which cannot be moved. Christ in the heart conquers the fear of death, and turns the "last enemy" into a friend (John 11:25, 26).
III. THE VIRTUE OF FIDELITY. We cannot tell how Mordecai discovered the design of the conspirators. He may have been asked to join them, or he may have heard or seen enough to awaken suspicion and make him watchful. In any case, he was faithful to his trust, he was loyal to the king whom he served. In all the relationships of life there are attached responsibilities and duties to which we are bound before God and man to be faithful. Fidelity is due, for example, to our sovereign, our government, our country; to our parents, our masters, our associates; to our Church, our brethren in the faith, our God and Saviour. Treachery is a vile sin against God and man, and a grievous enemy to the heart that cherishes it.
IV. FIDELITY HAS A GOOD ALLY IN WISDOM. It is a delicate and dangerous matter to interfere with the dark plottings of unscrupulous men. One needs to be sure of his ground before he charges others with unfaithfulness of any kind. But Mordecai was as prudent as he was loyal; a man of experience, of resource, and of self-reliance. He first made himself sure of the facts, and then by means of Esther secured that the plot should be quietly divulged, and that the two traitors should be seized before they had time to conceal evidence, or concoct a defence which might deceive the king, and cover with shame their bold accuser. Charges against the virtue of men should never be lightly made. A rash and impulsive fidelity may do more harm than good. A wise head works well with a true heart. It is noteworthy that Esther showed at once her confidence in Mordecai's prudence, and her desire to gain for him the credit of his fidelity, in her "certifying the king (of the plot) in Mordecai's name."
V. FIDELITY BRINGS OPENINGS FOR GOOD SERVICE IN ALL RANKS OR POSITIONS. Mordecai was a humble man, yet, being faithful to present duty, a time came when he could do, and therefore did, important service. It is wrong and foolish to despise any position, however lowly. A young man may at first occupy a post that is not encouraging either in its duties or in its rewards, but persevering fidelity will in duo time make its mark and attract attention and respect; and when that occurs the way to success lies open. So also in the field of Christian labour. The service of Christ is confined to no station. Loyalty to the Saviour's truth and name is all that is required to make any man fruitful in good works. The very lowliest may be, in his own circle of influence, as a light shining in the darkness, as a living epistle of Christ, known and read of men. There are endless ways of serving Christ. Opportunities are never wanting to the faithful. God never fails to use and honour those who live in the truth of his word.
VI. THE WANT OF FIDELITY IS A HIGHWAY TO DISGRACE AND RUIN. The plotters against the king of Persia were no doubt very secret and very clever; yet they were found out and doomed to death. Such crimes oftener fail than succeed. It is one of the striking features of historical crime that it has so generally failed, and that the projectors of it have so uniformly met with just retribution. In almost every criminal plan there is some weak point or person; some oversight, or over-confidence, or miscalculation, or unexpected contingency. Righteousness is the real law of God's universe, and when violated it always, in some time and way, exacts a just penalty. Nor are the issues of evil confined to the present life. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."
VII. FIDELITY HAS A SURE REWARD.
1. It is always its own reward. The consciousness of having resisted and overcome evil, of having been faithful to duty at all risks, is better to the heart than any gain of gold.
2. Though not always recognised at once, it is sure in time to be duly seen and honoured. In the long run even the world seems to get light, and to do justice, with regard to noble acts which at the time of their performance were allowed to pass unheeded. Mordecai's loyalty and its result were recorded in the king's chronicle only to be forgotten. Yet a time came when the record met the king's eye, and touched his heart, and brought a power to the faithful Jew which enabled him to foil the project of the would-be destroyer of his race.
3. Man may forget, but God remembers. It was in the line of God's providence that the fidelity which saved the king's life should be brought into prominence, and receive its reward, at the proper time. Whether our faithfulness to duty be recognised or overlooked by men, it should be enough for us that God knows it, and records it in his book of remembrance - to be brought to light in his own great day.
VIII. FIDELITY TO GOD EMBRACES AND SANCTIFIES THE DUTIES OF EVERY SPHERE. To be true to God is to be true to men. Every sin against man is a sin against God. Every failure of duty to those above or about us in the world is a breach of fidelity to God's holy and gracious will. Treachery on earth is viewed as treachery in heaven. A solemn fact! The more fully we submit to God, the more heartily we love and follow Jesus, the better shall we be and do as parents and children, as masters and servants, as rulers and ruled, as friends and fellow-workers, and as members of a Christian Church. Loyalty to God means a true and holy life. - D.
Two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh ... sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
(A. M. Symington.)
II. III. (J. Hughes.)
III. (J. Hughes.)
1. In the first place, we cannot read this narrative without drawing from it a lesson as to the uncertainty of life. The destroying sword may be hanging as by a single hair over the head of the ruler of a vast empire, making his life as contingent as that of the mariner when the storm suddenly bursts forth upon him, or of the soldier when he is under the thick fire of the enemy. Humanly speaking, those who occupy the middle class of society, whose wants are supplied without any danger or painful toil, and who have nothing to dread from the envy and enmity of others, live in greatest security, and have least occasion to fear what is usually called accident, as affecting their life. And the practical use which we should make of the uncertainty of the present life is to have a sure interest in Christ, which will render the life to come all certainty and blessedness to us.
2. In the second place, the narrative before us teaches us that whatever station in providence men are called to fill, they may be instrumental in conferring important benefits on others. Mordecai, a man of humble rank, saved the life of the king. But the remark which we have just made may be transposed to services more important than those which have reference to the present life and its concerns. What an immense power, for instance, is possessed by the nurse to whose care the children of a family are committed, and who, by the faithful execution of her trust, may implant the seeds of truth in the youthful heart so deeply that no worldly influence will afterwards efface them. There is something higher here than the mere saving of life. Every follower of Christ, in whatever sphere he moves, may do incalculable good to those around him, even to those who are placed high above him. If you cannot do so much as you would, a consistent and faithful life, spent in all the unobtrusiveness of true humility, will be a lesson to some that may be productive of vast benefit.
3. In the third place, from the narrative under review we are led to think of a record of unrequited deeds. Mordecai's information saved the life of the king, and was duly noticed in the annals of the kingdom; but it lay there for a considerable time, apparently as a dead letter. There is evidently a twofold application that may be made of this particular. The acts of wicked men are all recorded, and will be brought into judgment. The hand of justice does not always follow the perpetration of the evil act. Yet the retribution, if it be slow, is certain. But it is not so much this aspect of the question that is presented to us in the text as the more pleasing one, that the services of God's people are recorded, and are not suffered to pass unrewarded in the end. The reward, indeed, may not come in the present life. The faithful disciples of Christ have often been left to contend with the world's opposition, and to fall victims to the world's enmity, just on account of their steadfast attachment to the truth. But they are all recorded, and the record will be produced hereafter. The Scripture teaches us this very plainly. "God is not unrighteous," says the apostle, writing to the Hebrews, "to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister."
(A. B. Davidson, D. D.).
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