On the thirteenth day of the first month, the royal scribes were summoned and the order was written exactly as Haman commanded the royal satraps, the governors of each province, and the officials of each people, in the script of each province and the language of every people. It was written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the royal signet ring.
I. IT IS TO THE MATERIAL REWARDS OF OFFICE THAT SUCH MEN AS HAMAN TURN AN EAGER EYE. He well understood the ways of court, so as to secure the tangible results of favouritism. Conceptions of higher honour expand in proportion to elevation. A thought enters his mind to which if he gave utterance his immediate deposition and death would ensue. This thought will leak out by and by. It only needs a fitting opportunity. Nay, it will seize and make an opportunity out of the flimsiest pretext. Meanwhile he is as contented as an ambitious man ever can be. Under an outward calm he is hiding a flame of impatient expectancy. See him going forth from Shushan the palace. The gates are scarcely high enough for the proud-hearted man. Mark that smile on his countenance. Haman is "exceedingly glad of heart." Some further honour has been put upon him, and he goes to his home to reveal it to his friends. Why, may not a man of his calibre be proud? Can his honour ever be eclipsed? Can his glory ever be overshadowed? Can his name, handed down by his many children, ever die? Who can supplant him in the king's favour, seeing that he knows so well the arts of courtiers, and exercises his office apparently only with respect to the pleasure of the king? Do not all the rest of the courtiers and place-seekers look to him for advancement? Is not his favour, in turn, the sun that "gilds the noble troops waiting upon his smile"? "If ever man may flatter himself in the greatness and security of his glory," thinks Haman, "surely I may do so." Ah, Haman! thy pride is dangerous; it is like a high-heeled shoe, fitting thee only for a fall. Take care, the least stone may cause thee to stumble. Be not over-sure of thy position. Pitfalls are around. Ambition and pride are like heavy, widely-spread canvas on a ship, and need much ballast. Great is thy risk. Thou art like one standing on the narrow apex of a mountain. One false step will set thee rolling to the very abyss.
II. WORLDLY POSSESSIONS OR POSITIONS CAN NEVER GIVE FULL SATISFACTION. If they could, the result would have been injurious to man's moral nature. No thought of higher things entering man's mind, he would soon be degraded to the level of the brute creation. True pleasure arises from the attainment of some possession or object, but not full satisfaction. It is pleasant to have wealth wherewith to gratify desire, to be able to confer benefits on others; but if we make these things the one aim in life we are sure to reap but little joy. The drawbacks and counter-balancings are great. Much wealth, much furniture, many servants, a large house, and great popularity are only extra anxieties. The pleasure soon passes, the possession soon palls. Still, a man without any passion or aim is simply like "a speaking stone." Yet as a horse, too restive and fiery, puts his rider in danger, so do our passions. Ambition in moderation is an advantage, and few men become very useful who have none; but if give we the reins to our ambition we may be sure that such a fiery charger will dash-away over rocks or into floods to our great hazard. A man when at sea, cares neither for calm nor for a hurricane, but he enjoys a stiff breeze which helps the vessel along and braces his nerves. We suggest, therefore, not the banishment of all ambition, but its moderation; not the despising of all possessions, but that we should not be disappointed if we do not receive so much joy therefrom as we expected. Nay, we may thank God that we cannot live on stones, nor satisfy our hunger with husks; that in us has been cultivated the longing for those things which really afford satisfaction, viz., righteousness, peace, faith, and love. - H.
Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day.I. HERE IS UNSEEMLY HASTE.
II. HERE ARE INCONSISTENT PRECURSORY MEASURES. Wickedness renders a man inconsistent. Revenge impelled to action, but conscience still spoke in reproving tones. All must be done according to law. Obedience to the eternal law of right is the only method by which human lives can be rendered consistent and harmonious.
III. HERE IS A LOW ESTIMATE OF HUMAN LIFE, shown —
1. In the unmethodical nature of the slaughter designed.
2. In the indiscriminate nature of the slaughter designed.
3. In the rapacity after property. Life versus property. This decree is one of the unwritten decrees of modern civilisation.
IV. HERE IS WICKEDNESS BOLSTERED UP BY HUMAN AUTHORITY. Learn —
1. Great men should try to get a true idea of the importance of human life.
2. Statesmen should remember that the true wealth of a community is its men.
3. All ought to remember that life is ignoble when passion is allowed to rule.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
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