Esther 7:1

I. TARNISHED GILT. Haman would hardly go "merrily" to Esther's second banquet. His heart would be heavy with the day's disappointments, and his ears would be haunted with the gloomy vaticinations of his friends. The glory of the honour which had so inflated him was dimmed. Worldly delights that are ardently anticipated may be robbed of their promise even before they are touched.

II. WHETTED CURIOSITY. The king's desire to hear Esther's petition grew with delay. For a third time he asked her to speak, and encouraged her by the largest promise. Idle curiosity is a weakness and a snare. There may be a legitimate and even dutiful curiosity, and that too in connection with individual cases. A loving desire to give help will often justify even a seeming intrusion into the privacy of a friend's sorrow. A sympathetic word may cause a secretly-burdened heart to open and relieve itself, and thus give an opportunity of affording it the benefit of wise counsel and timely succour. Our Saviour has "a fellow-feeling with our infirmities," and desires the full confidence of his people, that he may help them in their "time of need."

III. UNBURDENED DESIRE. The queen knew that the time had come for her to speak. She could no longer delay without injuring her cause. If it is well to know when to be silent, it is also well to know when to speak. It is folly to expose a great matter to a heart that may be cold or hostile. Esther's matter was exceedingly great, and she could not subject it to any needless risk by a premature disclosure. But now the king was so favourable to herself, and so interested in her secret, as to make it plain that she must tell all. So she laid before the king the weighty burden she had been silently carrying. What a relief to open a secret sorrow to those who can feel for us and give us an effective solace! We can at all times speak to God. Whatever barriers of fear and distrust stand between us and him are of our own making. The Redeemer of men is ready to share our every burden and to exceed our largest desires.

IV. POWERFUL PLEADING. Much wisdom and much pathos mark the words in which Esther presented her petition. Observe -

1. How heroically she united herself with her people. It was for her own life and the life of her people that she prayed. That the queen was a Jewess would be startling news to the king and Haman, and would certainly quicken the fears of the latter. Esther calmly elected to be numbered with the Israelites, and to die with them if they were to die. She only cared to live if they were permitted to live. It was a strong way of putting the matter before the king. It is better to suffer with God's people than to share the splendours of their enemies. The example of Moses is suggested (Hebrews 11:24-26). That of Joshua too (Joshua 24:15). Especially that of Christ, who made himself one with us that he might redeem us from evil.

2. How energetically she described the doom contrived for her people. She used the very words of the royal proclamation - "To destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish" - showing the ruthless determination of the enemy. Then there was an indignant allusion to the bribe. "We are sold, I and my people," to be thus destroyed. A further sting to the listening Haman. Hatred of wrong and pity for the oppressed give force to the tongue of the advocate, when it is free to speak. Strong feeling can only express itself in strong words. Direct and plain are the utterances of a heart that is breaking with a desire to save the innocent. Happy are the victims of evil who have an advocate like Esther. She reminds us of the great Advocate, the one Mediator between God and man. Our elder Brother, the vanquisher of the giant oppressors of our race, ever works and pleads for his people (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).

3. How pathetically she pleaded the submissive spirit of herself and her race. If it bad been only bondage that was threatened she would have been silent. Her scattered people were used to hardships, and bad been trained to quiet submission. Yet, as she gently insinuated, even if the enemy had been content to reduce the Israelites to serfdom and poverty, he would not have saved the king' from damage. A free, orderly, and industrious people was of more value to the state than a race of slaves. This was a far-sighted truth much in advance of her day. Insubordination of peoples has generally been the result of oppressive rule. Nations have been wonderfully patient under all sorts of unjust exactions and crushing burdens; but there is a point beyond which the most patient submission cannot go. All are free in the kingdom of God. No oppressions there. Citizens are sons (John 1:12; Romans 8:14, 15, 21).

V. RESPONSIVE EMOTION.. The pleading of Esther. instantly roused within the king's mind a turbulence of feeling. "Who or where is the man who durst presume in his heart to do so?" Was he ignorant of the decree against the Jews? Had he sealed it in a careless or drunken moment? Or was he thinking of Haman and his presumption when he cried, "Who or where is the man?" We cannot say. All we know is that he yielded himself up to the power of Esther's words. We learn several things here.

1. That the worst men may retain a certain amount of good which only requires occasion to be inflamed into indignation against heartless sin. There is a point in every heart which the truth may peradventure reach. This should be encouragement to all workers for God.

2. That it is a good thing to be susceptible to the accents of injured innocence. We should cherish sympathy with the weak suffering, and be ever ready to set our faces against injustice and violence.

3. That false friends are worse than avowed enemies. Flatterers like Haman, who use the power they acquire for selfish and pernicious ends, are more to be feared than rebels or conspirators. A smooth tongue may work greater evil than an unsheathed sword.

4. That we should be thankful for awakenings to unconscious peril, even though they cover us with shame. It is less disgraceful to confess our weakness and folly than by persistence in them to allow wickedness to run its course. It may be noble to welcome a light that condemns us, but it can only be despicable and ruinous to close our eyes against the truth in order to shield our pride.

VI. RESISTLESS ACCUSATION. Esther's opportunity had come at last. "Who is the man?" cried the excited king. There is the man, answered the queen, pointing her finger to her second guest. "The adversary and the enemy is this wicked Haman." The charge fell like a thunderbolt on the culprit; a deadly fear seized his heart. There he stood convicted, speechless and trembling. We think of David before God and his prophet Nathan: "Thou art the man" (2 Samuel 12:7). The avenger may wait, but his time will come. God is long-suffering, but even his patience may be exhausted. ? D.







What is thy petition, queen Esther?
1. When called to speak for God and His people, we must summon up our courage, and act with becoming confidence and decision. Had Esther held her peace, under the influence of timidity or false prudence, or spoken with reserve as to the designs against the Jews and their author, she would have been rejected as an instrument of Jacob's deliverance, and her name would not have stood at the head of one of the inspired books.

2. When persons resolve singly and conscientiously to discharge their duty in critical circumstances, they are often wonderfully helped. The manner in which Esther managed her cause was admirable, and showed that her heart and tongue were under a superior influence and management. How becoming her manner and the spirit with which she spoke!

3. It is possible to plead the most interesting of all causes, that of innocence and truth, with moderation and all due respect. The address of Esther was respectful to Ahasuerus as a king and a husband: "If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king." Esther was calm as well as courageous, respectful as well as resolute.

4. It argues no want of respect to those in authority to describe evil counsellors in their true colours in bringing an accusation against them, or in petitioning against their unjust and destructive measures. "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman."

5. It is horrible to think and hard to believe that there is such wickedness as is perpetrated in the world. "Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?" We might well ask, Who was he that betrayed his master, and where did they live who crucified the Lord of glory? Who or where is he that dares presume to say, even in his heart, "There is no God" — that denies a providence, profanes the name and day of God, turns the Bible into a jest-book, mocks at prayer and fasting, and scoffs at judgment to come? And yet such persons are to be found in our own time.

6. We sometimes startle at the mention of vices to which we ourselves have been accessory. "who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?" He is not unknown to thee, neither is he far from thee, O king. "Thou art the man!" And how seldom do we reflect on the degree in which we have been accessory to and participant in the sins of Others by our bad example, our criminal silence, and the neglect of those means which were in our power, and which we had a right to employ for checking them.

7. Persecution is not more unjust than it is impolitic.

(T. McCrie, D. D.)

I. We see THE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF CAPABLE AND PRUDENT MANAGEMENT OF THINGS. Esther's management of these great affairs is evidently consummate. There is an overruling providence, but there is also a teaching wisdom of God, and if we wish to be fully under the protection of the one, we must open all our faculties to receive the other.

II. We have in Esther's behaviour A VERY NOTABLE AND NOBLE INSTANCE OF CALM AND COURAGEOUS ACTION IN STRICT CONFORMITY WITH THE PREDETERMINED PLAN. How few women are born into the world who could go through these scenes as Esther does I How many would faint through fear I How many would be carried by excitement into a premature disclosure of the secret! How many would be under continual temptation to change the plan! Only a select few can be calm and strong in critical circumstances, patient and yet intense, prudent and yet resolved.

III. HER BOLDNESS TAKES HERE A FORM WHICH IT HAS NOT BEFORE ASSUAGED; IT IS SHOWN IN THE DENUNCIATION OF A PARTICULAR PERSON: "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Strong language; but, at any rate, it is open and honest and above-board — no whispering into the king's private ear; no secret plotting to supplant the Prime Minister. Every word is uttered in the man's hearing, and to his face. Let him deny, if he can; let him explain, if he can.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Let my life be given me at my petition
We have the very same cause for urgency of suit as she had. It behoveth us to say in the presence of another King, "Oh, let my life be given me at my petition." There is a royal law, and under that law our lives are forfeited. Life, in the narrative before us, was about to be taken away unjustly — by force of a most cruel mandate; but it is a holy law that dooms us to death.

(J. Hughes.)

For we are sold
We also ought to sue both for our fives and our liberties. By nature we are the bondmen and bondwomen of sin and Satan.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
I. A wicked heart INDUCES FOOLHARDINESS. "Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?" Haman's daring presumption. A wicked heart is both deceitful and deceiving.

II. A wicked heart sooner or later MEETS WITH OPEN CONDEMNATION.

III. A wicked heart LEADS TO FEARFULNESS.

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

being commonly sudden and intense in uttering itself, furnishes strong testimony in favour of the universal principles of God's moral law; but we have need to be careful how we indulge in expression of virtuous wrath. It is safe and wholesome for us to pause and ask whether there is no risk that in judging others we may be condemning ourselves. Ahasuerus will feel ere long that he has uttered his own condemnation.

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

The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman
"The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." This is the best way of dealing with every enemy. Definite statements are manageable, but vague charges are never to be entertained. No man makes progress who deals in generalities. The sermon is in the application. The prayer is in the amen. Let us apply this teaching.

I. IN THE MATTER OF OUR OWN PERSONAL CHARACTER.

1. Put your finger upon the weak point of your character, and say, "Thy name is Self-indulgence." Tell yourself that you are allowing your life to ooze away through self-gratification. You never say no to an appetite, you never smite a desire in the face.

2. Take it another direction. "The adversary and enemy is this infernal jealousy." Your disease, say to yourself, is jealousy. Speak in this fashion when you have entered your closet and shut your door; say, "I am a jealous man, and therefore I am an unjust man; I cannot bear that that man should be advancing; I hate him; the recollection of his name interferes with my prayers; would God I could lay hold of something I could publish against him, I would run him to death." Yes, this is the reality of the case, God never casts out this devil, this all-devil; only thou canst exorcise this legion.

3. Or take it in some other aspect and say, "The adversary and enemy is this eternal worldliness, that will not let me get near my God."

II. WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC ACCUSATIONS.

1. Take it in the matter of public decay.(1) Who in looking abroad upon the country will say, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked liquor traffic"?(2) Or, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked official self-seeking"?

2. Apply the same law to the decline of spiritual power. It is an easy thing to read a paper on this subject, but who names the Haman? What keeps us back?(1) Fear of offending the world. The world ought to be offended. No worldling should ever have one moment's comfort in the house of God. He should feel that unless he is prepared to change his disposition, he is altogether in the wrong place.(2) Sometimes the enemy is doubt in the heart of the preacher himself. The man is divided. His axe is split across the very edge. There is no power in his right arm. When he speaks he keeps back the emphasis.

III. WE MIGHT APPLY THE SAME DOCTRINE TO HINDRANCES IN THE CHURCH. The adversary and enemy is this wicked, cold-hearted man. Whenever he comes into the church the preacher cannot preach; he cannot do many mighty works because that man is there, cold, icy, critical. We are afraid to name the adversary in church; we confine ourselves to "proper" words, to "decent" expressions, to euphemisms that have neither beginning nor ending as to practical vitality and force. We are the victims of circumlocution, we go round and round the object of our attack, and never strike it in the face. What we want is a definite, tremendous, final stroke. Esther succeeded. Her spirit can never fail.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen
Haman was now left alone with his righteous accuser. Innocence is courageous, but guilt is cowardly. Men, with the consciousness of having truth and justice on their side, have risen superior to the fear of death, and stood undaunted before wrathful kings. But this man, haughty and hardened in view of the sufferings of others, no sooner sees that evil is determined against himself than he becomes a poor, unnerved trembling suppliant at the feet of her whom he had most grievously wronged.

(T. McEwan.)

Very cruel people are sometimes very cowardly. Judge Jeffreys could go through his black assize in the West of England, the terror of the land, manifesting the fury of a wild beast; but when the tide turned, and he saw nothing before him but ignominy and disgrace, he sank into a state of abject fear which was pitiable to see. "Haman was afraid before the king and the queen." As he well may be.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

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