The couriers left, spurred on by the king's command, and the law was issued in the citadel of Susa. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was in confusion.
I. SOME UTTERLY CONCLUSIVE FACTS OF HUMAN LIFE.
1. A leading instance of the glaring disproportions of human fortune and circumstance. In closest juxtaposition are found, on the one hand, two men, sated with ease and all they can ask. On the other, a city, a whole city, throbbing with all the most various life, but - condensed into this brief description - "perplexed.") These are, as matter of fact, the two experiences of human life found in the same place) on the same day, at the same hour; and they are the result of what we should be generally content to call human fortune. Is it such contrarieties as these, that can subsist side by side; and is it not the irresistible conclusion that either human life is the sport of the arbitrary and the mockery of the malign; or that human fortune is but an earthly phrase for a Providence, at present most inscrutable, but with which all is to be trustfully left, for that it will ere long give account and require account? Once satisfied of this, a heathen poet has taught us the words, Permitte coetera Deo.
2. A leading instance of the disproportion of human rights and powers. One might almost be tempted to call it a violent instance of an intolerable anomaly. But in various ways, in more subdued form, by removes far more numerous, and the contrasts accordingly far less striking, we can see this violent case to be but a plain case of what permeates the structure of human society. Yet ponder the facts here. There are thousands upon thousands whose life, humanly speaking, is not in their own hands; and there are two in whose hands those lives are! This disproportion must dwarf every other. Compared with it, that of possession, of education) of brain, of opportunity, of genius, of position and birth must seem small matters. For life holds all the rest. Like a vessel, for the time it contains all The aggregate of humanity is the history to a tremendous extent of an aggregate of vicariousness. The tangle human fingers cannot undo. Out of the labyrinth human wisdom cannot guide itself. One hand alone holds the thread, one eye alone commands the bird's-eye position and view. But in all we must remember these two conclusions: first, that the vicariousness counts sometimes for unmeasured help, and advantage, and love; secondly) that it were better far to be of the "perplexed city" and the jeopardised Jews than to be either of those two men "who sat down to drink" after what they had done. Who would buy their position to pay the price of their responsibility? Who would accept all their possessions at the risk of using them as they did?
II. SOME UTTERLY CONDEMNING FACTS OF HUMAN NATURE.
1. A leading instance of the attitude in which a bad conscience will suffer a man to place himself; the exact opposite of that for which conscience was given, the exact opposite of that which a good conscience would tolerate. The very function of conscience may be impaired, may he a while ruined. See its glory departed now. Haman now is a leading instance of the satisfaction which a bad conscience shall have become able to yield, of the content a bad conscience will in the possibility of things provide. He has actually filled up the measure of his iniquities (as appears very plainly), and, worse by far than Judas, whose conscience sent him to hang himself, he "sits down to drink" with his king!
2. A leading instance of the destruction of the tenderest relic of perfect human nature. For in the last analysis we must read here, the extinction of sympathy! It is true there may have been left with the man who could do what Haman did sympathy with evil, and yet rather with the evil; sympathy with the gratuitous causing of woe and the causers of woe. But this is not what we dignify with the name sympathy. This sweet word, standing for a sweeter thing, has not two faces. Its face is one, and is aye turned to the light, to love, to the good. 'Tis a damning fact indeed among the possibilities and the crises of human nature, and of the "deceitful and desperately wicked" human heart, when sympathy haunts it no more, has forsaken it as its habitat, hovers over it no longer, fans the air for it with its beneficent pinion for the last, last time! Oh for the Stygian murkiness, the sepulchral hollowness, the pestilent contagion that succeeds, and is thenceforward the lot of that heart! The point of supreme selfishness is reached when all sympathy has died away. For those whose terrible woe himself had caused, it is Haman who has less than the least pity, and no fellow-feeling with them whatever! The lowest point of loss which our nature can touch here is surely when it has lost the calm energy of sympathy - to show it or to feel it. The proportion in which any one consciously, and as the highest achievement of his base skill and prostituted opportunity, either causes unnecessary woe or leaves it unpitied, unhelped, measures too faithfully the wounds and cruel injuries he has already inflicted on the tenderest of presences within him, the best friend to himself as well as to others. The wounds of sympathy are at any time of the deadly kind, and it only needs that they be one too many, when at last she will breathe out her long-suffering, stricken spirit! For him who is so forsaken it may well be that "he sits down to drink." For the knell is already heard, and "to-morrow he dies." - B.
I. THE INEQUALITIES OF HUMAN CONDITIONS.
And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.
(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)
1. The most striking instance of inequality is that which is illustrated between the condition of the oppressor and the oppressed.
2. This is further illustrated by the contrast between the jollity of the palace and the perplexity of the city.
3. The indifference of one class of the community towards another and seemingly less favoured class is brought to view in this passage.
4. This indifference has its root in and is the outcome of selfishness.
II. THE MYSTERIES OF HUMAN CONDITIONS. Haman feasting with the king, Mordecai mourning at the king's gate.
III. THE COMPENSATING FORCES OF HUMAN CONDITIONS. The pleasure of Ahasuerus was not a permanent stream. The glory of Haman was soon tarnished. The sorrow of Mordecai was turned into laughter.
IV. THE SYMPATHETIC ELEMENT IN HUMAN CONDITIONS. Sorrow draws men and women more closely together than joy. When one part of a city suffers, the whole of the city should be perplexed.
V. THE HARMONISING PRINCIPLE FOR HUMAN CONDITIONS. What principle is there that is to adjust in fit proportions the various parts and members of human society? The gospel rightly understood, broadly interpreted, and fully received. The gospel dethrones selfishness, and teaches the true brotherhood of humanity.
VI. THE TRUE SUSTAINING POWER FOR ALL HUMAN CONDITIONS: "Even our faith." The true help in life's difficulties is to go into the sanctuary of God. By faith and prayer the world's true heroes have ever conquered. Here learn —
1. To keep away from sensuality, which hardens the nature.
2. To cultivate sympathy, which ennobles the nature.
3. To foster firm faith in an overruling power, which brightens life.
4. To have respect unto the harmonies of heaven amid the discords of earth.
(W. Burrows, B. A.).
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