"Keep your money," said the king to Haman. "These people are given to you to do with them as you please."
I. IT IS TO THE MATERIAL REWARDS OF OFFICE THAT SUCH MEN AS HAMAN TURN AN EAGER EYE. He well understood the ways of court, so as to secure the tangible results of favouritism. Conceptions of higher honour expand in proportion to elevation. A thought enters his mind to which if he gave utterance his immediate deposition and death would ensue. This thought will leak out by and by. It only needs a fitting opportunity. Nay, it will seize and make an opportunity out of the flimsiest pretext. Meanwhile he is as contented as an ambitious man ever can be. Under an outward calm he is hiding a flame of impatient expectancy. See him going forth from Shushan the palace. The gates are scarcely high enough for the proud-hearted man. Mark that smile on his countenance. Haman is "exceedingly glad of heart." Some further honour has been put upon him, and he goes to his home to reveal it to his friends. Why, may not a man of his calibre be proud? Can his honour ever be eclipsed? Can his glory ever be overshadowed? Can his name, handed down by his many children, ever die? Who can supplant him in the king's favour, seeing that he knows so well the arts of courtiers, and exercises his office apparently only with respect to the pleasure of the king? Do not all the rest of the courtiers and place-seekers look to him for advancement? Is not his favour, in turn, the sun that "gilds the noble troops waiting upon his smile"? "If ever man may flatter himself in the greatness and security of his glory," thinks Haman, "surely I may do so." Ah, Haman! thy pride is dangerous; it is like a high-heeled shoe, fitting thee only for a fall. Take care, the least stone may cause thee to stumble. Be not over-sure of thy position. Pitfalls are around. Ambition and pride are like heavy, widely-spread canvas on a ship, and need much ballast. Great is thy risk. Thou art like one standing on the narrow apex of a mountain. One false step will set thee rolling to the very abyss.
II. WORLDLY POSSESSIONS OR POSITIONS CAN NEVER GIVE FULL SATISFACTION. If they could, the result would have been injurious to man's moral nature. No thought of higher things entering man's mind, he would soon be degraded to the level of the brute creation. True pleasure arises from the attainment of some possession or object, but not full satisfaction. It is pleasant to have wealth wherewith to gratify desire, to be able to confer benefits on others; but if we make these things the one aim in life we are sure to reap but little joy. The drawbacks and counter-balancings are great. Much wealth, much furniture, many servants, a large house, and great popularity are only extra anxieties. The pleasure soon passes, the possession soon palls. Still, a man without any passion or aim is simply like "a speaking stone." Yet as a horse, too restive and fiery, puts his rider in danger, so do our passions. Ambition in moderation is an advantage, and few men become very useful who have none; but if give we the reins to our ambition we may be sure that such a fiery charger will dash-away over rocks or into floods to our great hazard. A man when at sea, cares neither for calm nor for a hurricane, but he enjoys a stiff breeze which helps the vessel along and braces his nerves. We suggest, therefore, not the banishment of all ambition, but its moderation; not the despising of all possessions, but that we should not be disappointed if we do not receive so much joy therefrom as we expected. Nay, we may thank God that we cannot live on stones, nor satisfy our hunger with husks; that in us has been cultivated the longing for those things which really afford satisfaction, viz., righteousness, peace, faith, and love. - H.
I. This history is an illustration of the danger of a one-man power — OF AN ABSOLUTE DESPOTISM. The liberty that rests on the selfishness, or the inclination of one man, or of a hundred men, is suspended despotism, and if we must choose between the rule of one man, or of thirty, without a written constitution and laws, we should greatly prefer the one. In either case, our property and personal liberty are at the will of human caprice or passion.
To do with them as it seemeth good to thee.
I. MANY HAVE NOT DULY DISTINGUISHED BETWEEN AN EASY AND A GOOD TEMPER. An easy temper is a very dangerous one, when it is not under the powerful restraints of wisdom. It is vain to boast of a ready compliance with every good motion suggested to us if we are equally ready to comply with bad motions. If we surrender our selves to the direction of our friends, we may soon find that we have given up ourselves to our enemies. He is not our friend who desires to be oar lord.
II. PLEASE MEN FOR THEIR GOOD TO EDIFICATION. Be always ready to grant reasonable requests, and to follow good counsels. But you must judge for your selves, by the light which God has given you, what requests are lawful to be granted, and what counsels are worthy to be followed.
II. We see HOW GREATLY WE ARE BLEST, IN HAVING A GOVERNMENT, NOT OF MEN, BUT OF JUST, MILD, ENLIGHTENED AND EQUITABLE WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED LAWS, guaranteeing to us liberty in the worship of God, and in the pursuits of life and the enjoyment of our institutions. The King of Persia, in some instances, seems to have been surrounded by the restraints of precedents, yet, in other cases, he could do what he pleased with the lives and property of his subjects. There was no written constitution.
III. WE ARE NEVER TO DESPAIR OF THE ARK, EVEN WHEN IT FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES. God will never forsake His people. It is no new thing for the godly to have to suffer persecution. The Jews were misrepresented. Even what Haman said of them that was true was so said as to give a fresh colouring to the whole picture. There is no proof that the Jews were factious under the Persian rule. On the contrary, from the lives of Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah we should infer just the opposite. It is an old aspersion of God's people, to charge them with singularity. Would to God there was more cause for the imputation than there is t The very thing, therefore, that constituted their glory was made their offence. But it is better always to fall into the hands of God than of men. This was David's choice, and observation approves of it. The very reasons Haman gave for destroying the Hebrews are among the very reasons why God will not let them perish out of the earth. That which whets the sword of men moves the pity of the Almighty. God sometimes leaves His people to come into the greatest peril, that His power may be the more easily seen in their deliverance. Pharaoh was raised up to show His power, and so was Haman. "God taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and ensnares the wicked in the works of their own hands." In the darkest hour it is our duty and our highest happiness still to trust in God.
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
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