On the third day, Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace across from the king's quarters. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing the entrance.
Prayer. These verses suggest thoughts on the sovereignty of man and of God, the suggestion being almost entirely one of contrast rather than comparison.
I. THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN MONARCH AND THAT OF THE DIVINE. "The king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house" (ver. 1). The words are suggestive of the exceeding pomp and state with which Persian majesty surrounded itself, of the power it wielded, of the obsequious reverence it claimed. We are reminded of -
1. Royal rank. We make much of the different degrees of dignity that exist amongst us; from the common walks of life we look up beyond the knight to the baronet, to the earl to the marquis, to the duke, to the king, to the emperor, and feel something approaching to awe in the presence of exalted human rank. But what are these hum an distinctions to that which separates the mightiest monarch on earth from him who is (what they call themselves) the "King of kings," who sits not "in the royal house," but on the throne of the universe? Merest bubbles on the surface! invisible specks in the air! small dust of the balance! (Isaiah 40:22-25).
2. Royal power. Some human sovereigns have "the power of life and death" - an awful prerogative for mortal man to wield. They can exalt or humiliate, enrich or impoverish. But they have "no more that they can do" (Luke 12:4). What is their power to his, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell"? (Matthew 10:28).
3. Royal will. The will of the human monarch is often exercised quite capriciously. Esther could not tell whether, when "she stood in the inner court of the king's house" (ver. 1), she would be graciously welcomed or instantaneously ordered for execution. All turned on the mood of the moment. God's will is sovereign, but never capricious. He doeth "according to his will," etc. (Daniel 4:35), but never wills to do that which is unwise, unjust, unkind. By everlasting and universal principles of righteousness-he decides what he will do toward the children of men.
II. THE ACCESSIBILITY AND TREATMENT OF THE HUMAN AND THE DIVINE SOVEREIGN. The subject wants to approach the sovereign; he has requests to make of him. Let us contrast the accessibility and treatment of the earthly with that of the heavenly monarch.
1. When he may be approval. Esther was not acting "according to law" (Esther 4:16) in now drawing near. She did it at the peril of her life. We picture her waiting for the king's notice with tearful eye and trembling heart, lest the "golden sceptre" (ver. 2) should not be held out to her. Our great and gracious King is accessible to the meanest of his subjects at any moment. There is indeed a Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) between him and us, but through him we may come ,6 at all times." His throne on which he sits is a throne of grace. His sceptre is one of boundless beneficence. We may touch it when we will (ver. 3). If he rebukes us, it is not for coming when he does not send; it is for not coming oftener than we do. "Men ought always to pray."
2. How he may be pleased. Queen Esther sought acceptance by attention to her personal appearance; she "put on her royal apparel." That which we are to wear to gain the favour of our Sovereign is other than this. We are to "be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5). He has respect unto the lowly" (Psalm 138:6). Of such as the poor in spirit is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). Another garment we must have on in our approach to the king is that of faith. Without that it is "impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6).
3. What it is he promises. The king of Persia made promise to Esther in very "royal" fashion; he offered her, in word, much more than he had any intention of granting. "It shall be given thee to the hall of the kingdom" (vers. 3, 6). To-day he promises superfluously; tomorrow he may virtually withdraw his word. There is no wisdom, carefulness, certainty about it. God's promises are righteous, wise, generous.
(1) Righteous, for he gives nothing to those who are deliberately vicious or impenitent, who "regard iniquity in their heart" (Psalm 66:18).
(3) Generous, for he gives abounding spiritual blessings to those who seek them in Christ Jesus (Luke 11:13; Romans 8:32). Not tremblingly to an earthly throne, like Esther, do we come, but "boldly to the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 3:12), to find grace for all our sin and help for all our need. - C.
And to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him.
(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)
(J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)
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