Esther 6:3
The king inquired, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this act?" "Nothing has been done for him," replied the king's attendants.
A Resurrection of Good WorksJ. Parker, D. D.Esther 6:3
God's Time BestA. M. Symington, B. A.Esther 6:3
Ingratitude to GodT. Hughes.Esther 6:3
Merit OverlookedT. McCrie, D. D.Esther 6:3
Pacification of ConscienceJ. Parker, D. D.Esther 6:3
Reward and RetributionA. Raleigh, D. D.Esther 6:3
UnearthedT. McEwan.Esther 6:3
A Forgotten Service Brought to MindW. Dinwiddle Esther 6:1-4
The Honour that Cometh from ManW. Clarkson Esther 6:2-14
Unable to sleep, the king calls for something to beguile the weary hours; he has the chronicles of his reign read to him; he is struck with the fact of his own life having been saved by Mordecai, inquires what has been the reward given to this dutiful subject, discovers that nothing whatever has been done for him, and calls for Haman to ask his counsel. Haman is at hand, full of his murderous design against Mordecai. We picture to ourselves his impatience as the king broaches another subject; his secret exultation as Ahasuerus proposes to do honour to some favourite, and as he himself suggests that which would feed his own vanity. We see his astonishment and chagrin as he finds that it is none other than the hated Jew himself who is to be honoured. We mark his prolonged and intolerable vexation as he acts as the agent in carrying out the king's commandment. Concerning the honour that comes from man, we learn here -

I. THE RIGHTNESS OF PAYING THAT WHICH IS DUE AND OF ACCEPTING THAT WHICH IS EARNED (vers. 10, 11). Mordecai, who evidently and commendably made much of self-respect, did not think it wrong to accept the honour the king now laid upon him. He suffered himself to be arrayed in the "royal apparel," he mounted the "horse that the king rode upon," and was led with acclamation through the streets (vers. 8-11). He may have enjoyed it; it was in accordance with Eastern tastes and habits, and he had fairly earned it. It is lawful in God's sight to enter upon and enjoy the fruits of our own exertions; "the labourer is worthy of his hire." Among the rewards that men give their fellows is that of honour. And rightly so. Adulation or flattery is, on the part of those who pay it, simply contemptible, and on the part of those who receive it both childish and injurious; it is a thing to be unsparingly condemned in others, and religiously avoided in ourselves. But to congratulate on hard-won success, to praise the meritorious product of toil and skill, to pay honour to those who have lavished their energies or risked their lives to serve their fellows, this is right and good. And to receive such honours from the lips or the hands of men - if they be meekly and gratefully taken - this tea is right. "If there be any ... praise," we are to "think on" and to practise it. We should praise the praiseworthy as well as condemn the faulty. The approval of the wise and good has had much to do with building up fine characters, and bringing forth the best actions of noble lives.

II. THE VANITY OF RECKONING ON THE HONOUR OF THE GREAT (vers. 6, 10, 13). Haman had risen to high dignity; he enjoyed much of royal favour; he now felt that he might certainly reckon on being the chief recipient of the most signal honour the sovereign could pay. But God has said, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm;" "Put not your trust in man, nor in the son of man;" "Put not your trust in princes." Their favour is fickle; their countenance is changeful; their hand may caress to-day and crush to-morrow. To his unspeakable chagrin, Haman found that the royal hand was about to distribute favour to his bitterest foe, and thus pierce his soul by kindness to another. Covetousness of human honour is a sin and a mistake; it ends in disappointment, sooner or later, as the records of every kingdom, ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, will prove abundantly. It injures the soul also, for it begets a selfishness which finds a horrible satisfaction in others' humiliation, and keeps from a generous joy in others' preferment. Honour "from man only" is good in a low degree. It must not be eagerly coveted as the chief prize, or heavily leant upon as the chief staff of life. "Seek it not, nor shun it."

III. THE WISDOM OF SEEKING THE HONOUR THAT IS OF GOD (ver. 3). "What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?" "There is nothing done for him." Five years had passed, and Mordecai had found his reward in his own sense of doing his duty, and in the approval of the God be served. Apart from the praise and recompense of man, it is worth while to do right, to act faithfully; for there is one Sovereign that does not overlook, and is sure to bless in his own time and way. "Them that honour me I will honour," he says. This honouring of God may be either

(1) that which he causes men to give us, or

(2) his own Divine approval.

This latter is the better of the two, for it

(a) is intrinsically the more worth having;

(b) loads to no disappointment;

(c) "sanctifies and satisfies" the heart; and

(d) is consistent with the enjoyment of the same thing by every one else, and even prompts us to strive to make others possessors of it.

It is not the seed of selfishness, but the germ of generosity. - C.

There is nothing done for him.
Modest merit is overlooked, while the aspiring, the ambitious, and the time-serving rise to honour and riches. Nor is ingratitude confined to courts.

(T. McCrie, D. D.)

But if gratitude to man for his comparatively little kindness (for man cannot do much for his fellow) animate the believer's bosom, it glows with still more fervent gratitude to God, for the invaluable and merited blessing of salvation.

(T. Hughes.)

Things are done and forgotten, and men never suppose that they will come up again; yet after many days they are vivified, and history begins to take up the thread where it was dropped.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

But God is never surprised, and the end of all is to make us think of Him. Nothing entered in His "book of remembrance" is ever forgotten. His time for bringing the good deeds of His people to light may seldom be the time we would judge best, but it is always the most fit. Look to this ease. Had it been a day, an hour, half an hour sooner, would the effect have been as good for Mordecai or for his people? Would humility, prayer, patience, have been called into strengthening exercise?

(A. M. Symington, B. A.)

The loyalty and faithfulness of Mordecai had not been rewarded at the time. On the human side that might have been regarded as a piece of ingratitude, it not a reprehensible oversight; but on the Divine side it was a prepared cause, secreted and hidden for a long period, and yet waiting, and ready for the accomplishment, at the right time of a beneficent result. It was destined to come to the light. It was a seed-corn buried in the earth, which should bear fruit in due season. In an opposite direction there is the same particular providence often manifested in the unveiling of crime, and the bringing home of guilt to the hearts of those who have contracted it, as in the envy and malice of Joseph's brethren and the avaricious covetousness of Achan. As shells, deep in the sea, grope their way to the shore, or as hidden springs burst their way through to the surface, and form little rivulets, so is there in providence a great law, constantly in operation, for the disclosure of all that is either good or bad in human character or conduct. If bad, it is as though the avenger was tracking the steps of the transgressor, and at some turning in his path, and by some trivial accident, the evil is unearthed, and the doer of it brought to judgment. Or if good, it is as though the rewarder was following in the way of the righteous, and at the best time, and apparently by the most fortuitous combination of circumstances, the well-doing is made known, and meets with its recompense. Even now it is so. But the lines are drawn out far beyond the present, and converge in the transactions of a distant day.

(T. McEwan.)

I. IT TEACHES US HOW WELL A GOOD MAN CAN AFFORD TO WAIT FOR THE DUE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS UPRIGHTNESS, AND FOR ANY REWARD HE MAY NEED FOR THE GOOD HE HAS DONE. The conjecture is that six long years had gone by since Mordecai revealed the plot of the chamberlains and saved the king's life, and not even a word of acknowledgment had come to him during all that time. But what we most admire is his behaviour meantime. If he had been a self-seeking man, he could easily have found means to refresh the king's memory as to his services; but he kept silence. If he had been a malignant man, he might have sought what he would, in that case, have called a just revenge for the ungrateful neglect with which he had been treated, by hatching or falling in with some other plot. And then, how well all turns out in the end! How much better than if the reward had been given at the time! "He that believeth shall not make haste"; God's time is always the best. Righteousness is its own reward, and we are never righteous as God would have us be until we feel this deeply and act accordingly. He who, in God's strength, looks every day on the face of duty, and walks with her along whatever paths her sacred feet may tread, has in his own spirit, in his own character, what soon or late will blossom out into all beauty and grandeur; what will in the end become "glory, honour, and immortality."

II. The next lesson is just the opposite of this, viz., "HOW CERTAINLY A BAD MAN MUST BE OVERTAKEN AND PUNISHED!" We say "how certainly" because there is in his badness the root and element of the retribution, and often, without knowing it, he carefully develops and ripens by his own action the retribution that falls on his head.

III. FOR THERE IS AN INCRESCENT POWER IN EVIL (as indeed there is also in good), IN VIEW OF WHICH WE CANNOT BE TOO WATCHFUL AND ANXIOUS, LEST BY ANY MEANS WE SHOULD FALL UNDER THE POWER OF IT. The power of it, remember, is very silent and gentle, generally, in its operations.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The king was determined to rectify this matter, for he thought that by the pacification of conscience sleep might return. Many men are willing to purchase sleep on high terms. Could the murder but be undone; could the evil deed be but blotted out; could the stolen money be but safely returned; could the cruel word but be recalled; in short, could anything be done that sleep might once more come to the house, and fold all memories and anxieties within its healing robes!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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