Esther had not yet showed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai…
A superficial view might lead to an unqualified admiration of Esther and Mordecai, the principal characters in the scene before us. And not without reason, for they exemplify in their conduct some of the nobler qualities of human nature. With regard to Esther, note -
1. That she remembered in her prosperity the associations of the past. This did credit both to her head and to her heart; it evinced her sound sense as well as her humble-mindedness. It is pitiable to witness sometimes the way in which those who have risen in the world forget their lowly origin; they look down with contempt upon those who are still in the position which they themselves once occupied; and nothing wounds their pride more keenly than the slightest allusion to the home of their childhood. But such a miserable display of weakness only degrades them in the estimation of all right-minded men. Esther was very different from this. Amidst the splendours of the royal palace she could not forget her former obscure lot. And this must have been an ennobling power in her soul, elevating her above the corrupt influences of a profligate court.
2. That she showed gratitude to the man who had befriended her in adversity. She had been left a helpless orphan; and must have been thrown upon the mercy of a heartless world, had it not been for the timely succour of her generous kinsman. But there are natures upon whom such services make no lasting impression. They are altogether absorbed in self. Affluence, luxury, ease, harden their hearts, and make them utterly insensible even to the claims of gratitude. But Mordecai's kindness to Esther embraced her entire being; it pervaded all the motives which fashioned her life. Whenever She hesitated how to act, she would put to herself the question, "What would Mordecai advise?" and upon the answer would depend her course of conduct. And this is the highest style of affection, which issues in obedience, self-renunciation, submission to another's will. With regard to Mordecai, note -
3. That he had made the greatest sacrifice for the sake of another. He must have loved Esther deeply, tenderly, devotedly. And no wonder. Her beautiful form, and still more beautiful soul, could not have developed themselves beneath his eye without stealing away his heart. But when the grand prospect of her being raised to the throne presented itself, he hesitated not to give her up. So far we are constrained to admire. But deeper reflection makes us pause. In this most important juncture they seem to have been too completely actuated by mere POLICY. That success crowned their efforts is no excuse for their conduct. On the same ground you might justify some of the most hideous stratagems ever devised by depraved ingenuity. Never let the dazzling glare of the prosperity sometimes attendant upon false moves make us blind to the beauty of eternal principles. Nor can they be excused on the ground that they were carrying out the designs of Providence. For in the same manner you might justify the conduct of Joseph's brethren in selling their brother, and even the conduct of the Jews in crucifying the Saviour. What is POLICY? It is the substitution of the expedient for the right. It is the spirit which constantly asks, What will best promote our own interests? instead of asking, What will best satisfy the immutable claims of justice, truth, and honour? Observe -
I. THAT POLICY HAS A WORLDLY AIM. What is worldliness? An inordinate love of the present, the sensual, the temporal, with corresponding' neglect of the future, the spiritual, the eternal. Any line of conduct that is prompted by this temper of the heart must be accounted worldly. Esther had set her mind upon the crown, and Mordecai supported her ambitious views. From a heathen standpoint it was a glorious prize, but to a Jew it was a forbidden acquisition. Probably they contrived to conceal from themselves their real aim by investing it with fictitious attributes.
1. Esther might have desired to elevate the religious tone of the court by gradually making known the God of Israel.
2. Mordecai might have hoped to serve his nation by placing at the seat of power one who would be willing to help them in time of need. But wrong can never be right. We may glorify it with fine names, forgetting that a change of name does not necessarily imply a change of nature. Let us consider how policy affects men's conduct in politics, in religion, and in private life.
(1) In politics. Wars are sometimes undertaken, with the professed aim of extending to benighted races the blessings of civilisation and Christianity, whose real object may be to flatter national vanity, and satisfy the greed of rulers. Thus base acts acquire a dignity from the halo cast around them by high-sounding names.
(2) In religion. Men will contend for the success of a religious party, with whose prosperity their own honour is bound up, under the mistaken notion that they are fighting the battles of religion itself. Like the idol-makers who defended the faith of their ancestors by crying out, "Great is the Diana of the Ephesians," while they thought of nothing so much as the gains of their own craft.
(3) In private life. Think of illegitimate trades. They are engaged in simply because they happen to be lucrative. A man opens a gin palace, and finds that his coffers are rapidly filling with gold. To allay any qualms of conscience which may occasionally disturb his peace, he pictures to himself the vast power for good which an accumulated fortune may place at his command; but in his heart of hearts he really worships wealth.
II. POLICY STOOPS TO QUESTIONABLE MEANS. Granted that the crown which Esther sought to secure was a lawful object of an Israelite's desire, how did she endeavour to accomplish her purpose?
1. By contracting an alliance with a heathen monarch, which the Jews, as God's chosen people, were expressly forbidden to do.
2. By becoming that monarch's concubine before she became his wife. The loose notions in reference to this amidst which she had been educated may explain her conduct, but cannot justify it. It may also be urged that she had no option in the matter, that the monarch's will would brook no opposition, that disobedience might bring death. The only reply is that death is better than dishonour.
3. By having recourse to duplicity. She never made known her people, for fear it might interfere with her chance of promotion. In all this it is evident that Esther - and Mordecai, her adviser, too - had thought more of what was expedient than what was right. Note -
(1) That the conduct of good people, even in the most important transactions, are not always to be imitated. Not only in small matters, but also in great matters, are they liable to err. Precedent is a poor standard to appeal to, for it may mislead us when the most momentous principles are at stake.
(2) That true heroism, consists in doing right, irrespective of the consequences. This heroism has its type in Daniel rather than in Esther; in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego rather than in Mordecai. If you want to see the highest heroism, you need not gaze upon the battle-field, where men, through the maddening excitement of the conflict, defy death at the cannon's mouth, for there it cannot be found. Rather let your wondering eyes be directed to the martyr dying at the stake, to the pioneer of truth braving the scorn of the world, to the patient worker for the common good who toils in obscurity, and seeks no higher reward than the approval of his own conscience. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.