Esther 3:4, 5
Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he listened not to them, that they told Haman…
Mordecai's conduct was indeed striking. All the circumstances added to its impressiveness. The influences that ruled him must have been powerful. Why did he refuse to give homage to Haman? Why was he willing to disobey the king's command?
I. WAS HIS DISOBEDIENCE TO THE ROYAL WILL THE RESULT OF A DISLOYAL SPIRIT? That could not be; for he had recently given a most signal proof of his loyalty in discovering the plot of the conspirators against the king's life. He was true to the king even when he disobeyed him.
II. WAS HIS DISOBEDIENCE THE RESULT OF A VIRTUOUS DISLIKE OF THE WICKED FAVOURITE? Any amount of aversion for so worthless a creature would have been justified. But such an antipathy would hardly account for his disregard of the king's command. Here duty would have stepped in and saved at once his conscience and his self-respect. It must be remembered that he braved the king as well as Haman.
III. WAS HIS DISOBEDIENCE TO THE KING A RESULT AND EXPRESSION OF HIS OBEDIENCE TO THE KING OF KINGS? We now get near to the springs of his singular conduct. Nothing but this loyalty to the God of Israel will account for his calm and persistent daring. The unworthy character and the false eminence of Haman would no doubt have their effect on his mind. But it is only by considering the religious faith and principle of Mordecai that we can reach the true motive that actuated him. And here let us learn some things from the example of the heroic Jew.
1. A wise concession. So long as we can work honourably with those who differ from us in faith and opinion we should gladly co-operate with them. Religious differences should not interfere with civil duties ornational obligations. It is laid on both Jews and Gentiles to be loyal to the throne or government under which they live. A wise conduct is especially required in the followers of God whose lot is cast in heathen lands. While true to their faith in all things, they should avoid an inconsiderate and irritating obtrusiveness. Their aim should be to win by a holy guile, i.e. by "the meekness of wisdom" (James 3:13), rather than to repel by a crude and unsympathetic assumption of superior light. There are such things as casting pearls before swine, and swine turning and rending the foolish spendthrift.
2. A good confession. Whenever a time comes when silence as to our faith would be a sin, we should speak, and speak plainly. There should be no hesitation in naming God, or in witnessing for Christ, when occasion demands a clear testimony. When Mordecai saw that his silence was misinterpreted he declared his Jewish origin and faith. He was an Israelite and a worshipper of the Jehovah of Israel, and as such he could not give worship to any creature of God, even though it should be a Haman. There is a time to be silent, and there is a time to speak.
3. An enduring steadfastness. It is often easier to begin than to continue a faithful witnessing for God. Some who readily acknowledge the truth begin to waver and lose steadfastness in presence of difficulty or danger. They cannot endure. But Mordecai, having once taken his stand on religious principle, remained firm against all temptations. He reminds us of the words of Luther in presence of Charles V.: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me. Amen" (Matthew 24:13; James 1:12).
4. A noble courage. It was not without sober calculation that Mordecai refused homage to Haman. He knew how much he risked. He had "the courage of his convictions." He was
(1) willing to stand alone amongst his companions in service. He could bear their sneers and threats. A hard thing in any position! He
(2) faced the probable anger of the king, to whom he had proved himself loyal. He
(3) braved the malignant wrath of the favourite, from whom he could expect no mercy. He
(4) put in peril the happiness and future guidance of his beloved Esther. He
(5) laid his own life on the altar of righteousness. He
(6) sacrificed every earthly interest to his allegiance to God. We think of Paul's heroism of faith (Philippians 3:8). Then we think of the words of Paul's Master (Matthew 19:29). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.