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.
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.
(T. McCrie, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(A. M. Symington, B. A.)
(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.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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