The couriers rode out in haste on their royal horses, pressed on by the command of the king. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.
I. WHAT TRUE PATRIOTISM IS.
1. It is evidently an original and ultimate principle. As soon as ever it was possible it showed its existence The fact of its presence, and operative presence, has been visible in all ages, traceable in all kinds and degrees of civilisation - among the barbarous, and among the most advanced and elevated nationalities.
2. It is a principle of a high moral kind. A form of love above the sympathy which is between individual and individual, above that which lies between those born of the same parents, and, on the other hand, falling short of that universal love of man, as such, which is one of the very highest teachings of Christianity.
3. It is a somewhat quickened regard for those united to us by community of race. A stronger interest in their welfare and advantage is marked by it, while divested as far as possible of any conscious reflex action or benefit to self. This affection was no doubt exceedingly strong in the Jewish race, was at Esther's time greatly intensified by adversity and persecution and natural causes, but owed its most determined hold to distinctly Divine purpose.
II. THE USE OF PATRIOTISM IN THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER.
1. It must be enlarging to the heart. It must expand the affections in their outlook, which then seek the various and the distant instead of ever keeping at home. It must give greater and freer exercise to the more important moral elements of our nature.
2. It must operate ever as a distinct corrective to some portion of the dangers of selfishness. There is much selfishness in our self-love; there is often not a little even in the family and domestic circle; sympathies may run round indeed, but in too narrow a circle. But the circle is immensely widened by this community of interest, while yet kept within a manageable area.
3. It is able to give enough natural motive to the awakening of moral energies, which without it would have found no sufficient appeal. In point of fact, some of the grandest displays of human force, and among them that of the present history, have been due to it.
III. ITS USEFULNESS TO PUBLIC SOCIETY. There will be a vast amount of this necessarily entailed indirectly and unconsciously, as arising from the previous considerations; but, in addition, manifest practical use on a large scale will also result.
1. It secures the prospect of bringing together to one point a great aggregate of force in emergency. It is like public opinion in action, seasoned by genuine affection.
2. It is equal also to the converse of this, spreading, as in Esther's example, the willing benefit, the critical advantage of opportunity, of one loving, praying heart, over a vast area.
3. Pervading the whole mass of mankind, it so divides it up and so allots it, that in place of unwieldiness a well-knit-together organisation is found. Thus it offers a strong and very traceable analogy to the body with its members.
IV. THAT IN PATRIOTISM WE HAVE ANOTHER EVIDENCE OF DIVINE DESIGN IN THE STRUCTURE OF HUMAN SOCIETY. For -
1. It cannot possibly be attributed to mere human arrangement or compact.
2. It does not at all really contravene either the descent of all from one head, or the fact that "God has made of one blood all nations of the earth."
3. Its operation is not malevolent, setting "nation against nation." It is beneficent, and is ever growing to show itself more and more so, leading up to mutual service, mutual dependence, and mutual love, to the attainment of which it were very hard to see any other way so compact, so sure. - B.
On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen.I. We see how, IN THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD, THE WEALTH WHICH WORLDLY MEN WOULD USE IN OPPOSITION TO THE INTERESTS OF GOD'S CAUSE AND PEOPLE MAY BE WRESTED FROM THEM, AND MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THESE INTERESTS. The conclusion which we draw from all this is, that the best and happiest arrangement which a man can make with respect to the good things which have been bestowed upon him is that in his lifetime he seek to be personally the dispenser of good to others. If he lives and acts in this spirit, then he will have the less anxiety as to the disposal of what he may be able to leave behind him.
II. The peculiar providence which we see exercised in the case of Mordecai teaches us THAT MEN MAY BE WELL CONTENT TO WAIT, WHILE THEY ARE IN THE WAY OF WELL-DOING, UNTIL THEY RECEIVE THEIR RECOMPENSE. Worth and faithfulness and humility, after they have been long neglected, are brought into the light, and are honoured in proportion to the neglect which they formerly experienced.
III. FROM ESTHER'S LOVE FOR HER PEOPLE WE TAKE A LESSON. Then should not this be an example to those among us, who themselves have had their souls gladdened by the grace of God, to be mindful of others who have not been visited so graciously?
IV. THE LESSON WHICH IS TO BE DRAWN FROM THE CONDUCT OF THE KING AS IT IS HERE EXHIBITED. If one man, for example, has injured another, and knows it, but is too proud to acknowledge it, then he is destitute of the true spirit of Christianity. If a man is engaged in a wrong course of action, and is sensible of it, but will put his soul in peril rather than yield to the remonstrances of his friends, then his pride will certainly prove the ruin of his soul. There is, perhaps, more real heroism in confessing and correcting errors and weaknesses than there is in boldly contending for truth, when we are conscious that we have it on our side. Many voices will cheer us onward in the defence of principles which we defend at some risk. The courage that suffers in a good cause will always get applause. But when I have done wrong, and make confession of the wrong, the men of the world do not sympathise.
(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)
And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai.
1. In his case we first see this fidelity for a period exceedingly tried and hopeless.
2. We see this faithfulness in duty brought to extreme danger. Not only was Mordecai unrewarded, but he was condemned to an appointed destruction.
3. We see this fidelity in duty completely rescued and delivered.
4. We see this fidelity in duty proportionably exalted.
5. We see this fidelity in duty abundantly rewarded in outward, earthly things.
6. We see this fidelity in duty not only rewarded in itself, and in the person and condition of the man who is distinguished by it, but crowned with eminent usefulness to others.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
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