I. THAT IN TIMES OF TRIAL THE SYMPATHY OF THOSE WHOM WE LOVE IS A PRECIOUS THING. When Esther sent robes to Mordecai to replace his sackcloth, and loving messages with them, she would pour a real solace into his sorely-tried heart. She did not know at first the cause of his anguish, but she did her best to put her own loving heart beside his, and by the sweet contact to comfort and strengthen him in his mysterious sorrow. In many cases of suffering we can do little more than pour into the ear a breath of sympathy. That often is the best blessing that can be given or received. We should all cherish and freely exhibit" a fellow-feeling" with those of our friends who are "in any distress."
II. THAT A TRUE SYMPATHY IS EAGER TO EXPRESS ITSELF IN BENEFICIAL ACTION. Esther's first attempt to comfort Mordecai having failed, she sent a trusted servant to him to ascertain what his so loudly-pronounced manifestations of sorrow really meant. She could not live in peace while he was in such visible unrest. She longed to know all, that she might do all that she could. It is not good to indulge in idle sentiment. Many are content if they feel well, or surrender themselves for a time to tender emotions. No practical good results from their sensibility, nor is any intended. There is a good feeling which is satisfied with itself. Such was not Esther's. Let us beware of it (see Matthew 7:21; Matthew 21:28-31; Luke 10:33-35).
III. THAT THE MOST EAGER SYMPATHY MAY SEEM HELPLESS IN PRESENCE OF THE OBJECTS THAT ATTRACT IT. When Esther learned through Hatach the cause of Mordecai's distress, and received the copy of the royal decree, her sorrow and sympathy would be greatly intensified. They were now extended to all her people. Yet, queen as she was, she felt unable to do anything to give help. There are troubles before which the most powerful have to confess themselves powerless. Few griefs are so keen as that which springs from a conscious inability to satisfy the heart's compassionate yearnings. In connection with Esther's difficulties let us notice here -
1. Mordecai's charge. It was that, after reading the royal decree, Esther should go to the king and make supplication before him for her people (ver. 8). This he laid upon her as a solemn duty. The obligations of duty are increased by high position and influence.
2. Esther's strait. However willing to obey Mordecai, Esther was aware of a twofold obstacle to her following his guidance in this instance. It was a universally known law of the Persian court that no one, man or woman, should approach the king uninvited under the penalty of death (ver. 11). The life of any intruder, on whatever mission, could only be saved by the king's holding out to him or her his golden sceptre. In ordinary circumstances the unbidden entrance of the queen would be most likely to receive the royal sign of safety and welcome. But Esther had a special fact to communicate to Mordecai on this point. For thirty days, or a month, the king had never sought her company, and she had no hope that he might now give her an opportunity of speaking to him. This forgetfulness of Esther on the part of the king may perhaps have been owing to the vicious influence of Haman.
IV. THAT TESTING OCCASIONS ARISE IN THE HISTORY OF EVERY LIFE. No position, however exalted, is free from them. Many fail to meet them honestly and heroically, and therefore suffer more than they gain by them. Happy are those who, under the power of faith and a sense of duty, withstand and conquer them to good ends (1 Peter 1:6, 7). - D.
Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment.
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