A Type of Universal Joy
Esther 8:15-17
And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold…

This passage tells the tale of great joy. The question of the prophet Isaiah, "Shall a nation be born at once?" asked now nearly two centuries ago, is answered in an unexpected way, and in something superior to mere literal sense. New life is a great thing, and the sensations of young life have much joy in them. But in the same kind of sense in which the father rejoiced over the prodigal son on his return with livelier and more demonstrative joy than over the obedient son who never went astray, and in the same kind of sense in which it is said that "there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance," is it true that there is more joy in life rescued from the doom of death than in life just fresh, though it be fresh from the Creator's hand. Yes, there is more joy therein, both for those who are chiefly concerned, and for those who look on. And was it not thus in the best sense that a nation was now "born at once" when darkness, exceeding distress, and the anguish of apparent helplessness all dropped off in a moment, and "the Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour,... and a feast and a good day in every province, and in every city"? Evidently some special stress is laid upon the description of the gladness of the Jews. We cannot for a moment wonder at their gladness, that is one thing. But the detailed and full announcement of it on an inspired page is another thing, and leads us to expect that there are some facts about it which should invite notice and will reward more careful thought.

I. IT WAS THE GLADNESS OF A VAST NUMBER OF PEOPLE. A great philosopher of British name and reputation has remarked two things, and very truly, on this subject. First, how much less disposed, comparatively speaking, men are to sympathise with the manifestations of joy than with those of genuine sorrow. To the best of human nature it is easier to weep with those who weep than to laugh with those who laugh. This is a just discernment, and gives the balance of goodness to the intrinsic quality of unfallen human nature, where it may get a possibility of betraying its native worth. Secondly, that this is especially true when it is the joy of an individual that is ostentatiously paraded. Here the case is the opposite. The joy is the joy of all and of each. Gratitude and thankfulness were the spring of it, and there was no need to moderate either itself or its expression, because it was general and universal. There were none (at all events none entitled to consideration) on whom it would jar, or whose finer susceptibilities would suffer. On the contrary, the only discordant element would be produced by him who made himself the exception or offered to stand aloof. Note, that such real general joy is a very rare phenomenon on earth.

II. IT WAS THE GLADNESS OF EVERY CLASS AND KIND OF THE PEOPLE. Old men "little children and women" (Esther 3:13), young men and maidens, rich and poor, strong and weak, all these could participate in it. Our human joys are often spoilt, are often much diminished to the best of persons, by the inevitable memory of those who are without what gladdens us. Think how a victorious army may rejoice, and generals and leaders be glad; but what of the hundreds of families of every class over the kingdom who have lost husbands, brothers, sons? Or think how the great body of a nation may rejoice because of the victories of its armies; but at what havoc of untold sorrow and misery of numberless others belonging to conquering or the conquered. Think how rare is the occasion of any national joy which really reaches and touches the heart of all kinds and ages of the people.

III. IT WAS A GLADNESS WHICH HAD SEVERAL ELEMENTS IN ITS COMPOSITION. The fourfold analysis of it cannot be condemned for mere surplusage of language as it lies on the page of Scripture. And these are the four elements - "light," "gladness," deep "joy," "honour." Each of these elements is a good one. The first and last speak for themselves. Let us interpret the second as the gladness of the young hearts and of manifestation, and the third as the deeper-sinking joy of the old, and those who felt and thought more than they showed or spoke.

IV. IT WAS THE GLADNESS OF A REACTION. The reaction was just. It would have argued callousness, an insensate heart indeed, if it were not felt, and very powerfully felt. To have great mercies is a common thing, to respond to them far too uncommon. The contrast of "the horrible pit and the miry clay" with the "rock and the established going" of the pilgrim is one which should waken deepest joy. It is light, joy, honour all in one.

V. IT WAS GLADNESS IN ANSWER TO A DELIVERANCE WHICH WAS NOT ONLY VERY GREAT AND VERY UNEXPECTED, BUT WHICH WAS THE RESULT OF A MARVELLOUS INTERPOSITION OF PROVIDENCE, wrought by one feeble woman, and prepared for by a most extraordinary series of precisely-adapted events. And all this was "prepared for God's people." Through much tribulation, indeed, through darkness, cruel oppression, patient endurance on the very border of despair, they had been wonderfully brought out to the light, joy, honour of that time.

VI. IT WAS A GLADNESS WHICH MAKES US THINK OF ANOTHER. It makes us feel for another, long for another. That was of a nature that must be rare in occurrence, nor would we wish it other. And, after all, the duration of it could only be temporary. But it may well bear our thought onward and upward. The gladness of the people of God in heaven will fill out every part of the description of this gladness. It will fill out every part of it worthily. There all will be glad. There all varieties of purified spirits will be glad. There the light and gladness and joy and honour will all be to perfection. How glorious the reaction that will then be felt for us, with the doom, and the law's decree, and the despair, and the sorrow, and the tear all and for ever gone. And when we shall all admit to what it is owing - to the most marvellous interposition of all; and to whom it is owing - to him who "with strong groaning and tears" pleaded for us and saved us. - B.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.

WEB: Mordecai went out of the presence of the king in royal clothing of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and was glad.

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