"If it pleases the king," she said, "and if I have found favor in his sight, and the matter seems proper to the king, and I am pleasing in his sight, may an order be written to revoke the letters that the scheming Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king's provinces.
I. WHAT A LEGACY OF EVIL IS LEFT BY THE WICKED. e.g. By Voltaire, Paine, Napoleon I., and others.
II. WHAT EFFORTS ARE NECESSARY TO REPAIR EVIL ONCE WROUGHT. It is SO much easier to destroy than to build up.
III. GREAT EVILS MAY BE REMOVED, OR AT LEAST OVERRULED, BY PROVIDENCE. If this were not believed, the arm of the Christian would be paralysed. We have to beware of that phase of belief which would lead to the postponement of spiritual effort because Christ is to come again. We must not let it be supposed that the work of Christ, the word of God, and the gift of the Spirit are all failures. The mischief wrought by evil is to be repaired by Christ's gospel and healed by his love.
1. What are we doing to repair the mischief others have wrought? What are we doing to undo our own wrong-doing? - H.
I. ESTHER'S DEEP AFFECTION FOR HER KINDRED.
For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people.: —The world is full of changes. There are no elements of stability belonging to it. When all appears fair and promising, some unlooked-for event takes place, to darken the prospect, and to render it cheerless and gloomy. And, on the other hand, when the atmosphere forbodes great storms, a gale arises unexpectedly, to chase away the clouds, and to pour liveliness on all around us. We find these statements strikingly verified in this chapter.
1. Haman's prosperity vanished away suddenly, and the objects of his deadly enmity rose to power and happiness. "On that day" (in which Haman was executed) "did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman, the Jews' enemy, unto Esther the queen." Here she, who had been doomed to an untimely death by a wicked man, is enriched with his estates. How true the declaration of the psalmist, "Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them"!
2. Esther was not the only one that profited by Haman's doom. Mordecai also was advanced by it. How could he advance a more deserving character, one who had been more faithful in every duty? Were things properly conducted, such would always be the case. Worthlessness of character would ever act as an hindrance to power, and a life conducted on the principles of integrity and faithfulness would lead to preferment and honour. Such will be the case on a future day. The good and faithful servant shall enter into the joy of his Lord. Esther likewise behaved well on this occasion. She did not forget Mordecai's kindness to her when she was destitute and in trying circumstances. There is a perpetuity in holy affection and friendship which you look for in vain in the children of this world. These may for a season be loud in their professions of attachment; but when it suits their purpose they find it convenient to forget those professions, and allow their attachments to degenerate into neglect and oblivion. But Christian friendship, based on permanent principles, is permanent in duration. The sweet friendship between Jonathan and David nothing could extinguish, no reverse of fortune could even cool. But there is no friend equal to Jesus! the acts of His friendship are unceasing. He is, what every friend ought to be, "a friend that loveth at all times."
3. The Jews also derived great advantage from the death of Haman, for his edict contemplated their destruction. Esther interceded for them, and as far as circumstances permitted, prevailed. She approaches the king again, uncalled, in the humblest manner, and with abundant tears in his eyes. It is a good sign when we feel an interest in the welfare of those related to us, and when we can with importunity invoke the blessings of God upon them. Thus did Esther. She was not more earnest for herself than for her people. Thus felt Jesus. "When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it." Thus felt St. Paul. He poured out his very soul for his people, the Jews, though they persecuted him, and tried to effect his destruction. He tells us that he "had great heaviness, and continual sorrow in his heart" at their folly and wickedness in rejecting Christ, and that his "heart's desire and prayer unto God for them was, that they might be saved." Are we thus minded? Esther fell down at the king's feet for her people. Have you done so for your relatives and friends? "Oh that" my children "might live before Thee!"
4. Esther interceded not in vain: for the king took immediate steps to avert, at least in some degree, the storm which had long been gathering over their heads. The unchangeableness of the Persian laws was deeply to be regretted, and caused much injustice and cruelty. The law of God is indeed unchangeable, and properly — necessarily so. His commands are based on immutable foundations, and therefore they must be eternally the same. How strangely was this kingdom managed! Here are two different and contrary laws — authorising civil war from the one end of the realm to the other — one decree authorising the Persians to attack the Jews, the other authorising the Jews to defend themselves, and to slay the Persians. Let us bless God for more rational and equitable enactments in our kingdom. We owe this altogether to Hie goodness in giving us the Scriptures; for our civil as well as religious light are derived from their sacred page.
5. If such anxiety was manifested for this newly-enacted law to be known throughout the empire, how much more anxious should we be to circulate the Word of God throughout the world! And if it was deemed of such moment that the decree should be "written unto every people, after their language," how should we rejoice that the great charter of salvation has been translated into so many of the languages of the earth, and that a copy of the Scriptures goeth forth into distant parts of the world for every moment that passeth away! The speed with which the decree in favour of the Jews was to be made known to them deserves our attention. "The posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment — that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies." Was preservation from temporal death of such consequence to the Jews that all this expedition was enjoined that they might obtain it? Of how much greater consequence is preservation from everlasting death.
6. Mordecai, being now chief minister of state, went forth arrayed, according to the dignity of his office, and the people rejoiced at beholding power conferred on one who would use it beneficially. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." Their weeping endured for a night, and there was joy in the morning. "A good day!" yes! a day of everlasting sunshine, awaits holy mourners, in a future world. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
I. THE SCENE THAT PRESENTED ITSELF TO ESTHER'S FEELING HEART. What patriotic Christian can contemplate the condition of large masses of our people without being moved to sympathy and confession?
1. Their poverty and privations.
2. Their want of moral and religious influence.
3. Their spiritual wants.
II. THE EFFORT SHE USED UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH SHE WAS PLACED.
1. She addressed herself in earnest prayer to the king in behalf of her countrymen. Let us arise and plead their cause with the King of kings who are the willing captives of sin and Satan.
2. She was active in the use of proper and legitimate means to accomplish her heart's desire. "Prayer without works is enthusiasm, and works without prayer presumption."
3. She did all in deep humility (ver. 5).
III. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO CHRISTIAN EXERTION.
1. The times are favourable.
2. The gospel is admirably adapted to meet the wants of people everywhere.
3. The example of pious characters in all ages from the time of Christ down to our own time, who have felt it their duty and privilege to propagate the gospel.
4. "The value of the soul."
II. THE CHARACTER OF HER INTERCESSION ON THEIR BEHALF. She had singular advantages and great opportunities, and she turned them to the best purpose.
III. SHE USED HER ADVANTAGES WITH EARNEST ANY PERSEVERING IMPORTUNITY. Conclusion: There are two points of difference between Esther's intercession with Ahasuerus and ours with the Lord Jesus.
1. She went into the king's presence uncalled and unbidden; we are urgently invited and commanded to make our requests known unto God.
2. Esther had reason to fear a repulse; we are positively assured of a welcome.
(R. Glover, D. D.)
(G. H. Smyth, D. D.)2 Samuel 18:33). A boy was once lost in a storm at sea. His mother went to learn the sad story from the captain of the vessel, who barely escaped with his life. Among other inquiries she asked, "Did you see my boy at the time he met his sad fate?" The captain replied, "Yes, he was clinging to a piece of broken spar that hung over the side of the ship a short time before she sank." "Did he speak to you or say anything about his father or me?" The captain said yes, and then a long pause was broken by the weeping mother impatiently saying, "Oh, tell me what he said, one word of my dear boy will bring me comfort." The captain still tried to avoid tolling her, but she insisted. "Well, then," replied the weather-beaten seaman, "your boy looked despairingly at me and said, ' My parents never prepared me for a moment like this!' Then a huge wave washed him from my sight."
(G. H. Smyth, D. D.)
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