And once again, Esther addressed the king. She fell at his feet weeping and begged him to revoke the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.
I. THE MANIFOLDNESS OF HUMAN CONSECRATION. "And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears," etc. (ver. 3). Emboldened by her first success, Esther goes in again to the king, again endangering her own position, and, indeed, her own life, on behalf of her people. The former time she may have been influenced by Mordecai's reminder that her own death was determined by the king's decree. Now, however, she had no reason to be apprehensive on that ground. Her second act of intercession was purely unselfish. It is a beautiful instance of goodness. The lovely queen risking her dignity, her wealth, her happiness, her very life on behalf of others; pleading with the capricious and uncertain sovereign; shedding for others, as she had not for herself, tears of tender compassion; bringing her beauty and her charms wherewith to insure the safety of the people of God. In how many ways may we serve the cause of goodness and of God. What varied offerings may we lay on the altar of the Lord! Each man must consecrate his best: the learned man can bring his knowledge, the wise his sagacity, the rich his wealth, the titled his rank, the fearless his courage, the energetic his vigour; the engaging woman can bring her charms, the loving her affection, the beautiful her beauty. Our God "has commanded our strength" (Psalm 68:28). It is true that he requires of us "according to that we have, not according to that we have not" (2 Corinthians 8:12); but he asks of each of us the best we have to bring, and of what he has given us freely to give him and his.
II. THE SPECIAL LOVE WE OWE TO OUR OWN PEOPLE. "How can I endure to see the evil that shall come upon my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?" (ver. 6). Our Lord had on more than one occasion to teach that the affection of ordinary human friendship toward himself must give place to a purely spiritual attachment. In him we form and cultivate and magnify these spiritual affinities and relationships. Yet they are not inconsistent with special interest in those to whom the bonds of nature bind us. We know how intensely strong was the feeling of the Apostle Paul toward "his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:1-3). If we do not wish to endure the intolerable pain of witnessing the "evil" and destruction of our own kindred, but wish for the joy of seeing them "walking in the truth," we must bring all our influence to bear on their hearts in the time when we can teach them, touch them, lead them.
III. THE FRAILITY OF HUMAN LAW, and, we might add, the presumption of human legislators. The decree which this great "king of kings" had just issued was no sooner published than he wanted to reverse it. He and his brother kings, indeed, professed that the law of the Medes and Persians altered not (Esther 1:19), and when Esther came with her petition, Ahasuerus declared that what was "written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse" (ver. 8). Technically and formally it was so; in part it was so truly. But in substance this was but a vain pretence. Measures were instantly taken to reduce the former decree to a nullity. Much of the most beneficent legislation of later years has been the undoing of what former acts had done, the repealing of old and evil laws. Solemnly and with all the forms of state we enact, and then, a few years on, with the same solemnity we repeal. Such are the laws of man.
IV. THE IRREPARABLENESS OF HUMAN FOLLY (vers. 9-14). King Ahasuerus might hang Haman with great promptitude; a word from him, and the executioners were ready with willing hands; but he could not easily undo the evil work of his favourite. That bad man's work left dark shadows behind. He himself was disposed of, but what of the decree he had been the means of passing? That could not be quickly reversed, or its effects removed. The custom, if not the constitution, admitted of no formal repeal. Consequently the most energetic measures had to be taken to prevent a general massacre. The king's scribes had to be called together (ver. 9); letters had to be written in every language and sent to every province in the empire (ver. 9); horses had to be pressed into the service (ver. 10); and then all that could be done was to sanction and encourage a stout resistance on the part of the Jews when they were attacked: they were "to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay," etc. (ver. 11). This, no doubt, led to severe and fatal strife in some, if not in many, places. In truth, the king could not wholly undo what his thoughtless folly and excessive confidence had done. We never can wholly wipe out the evil consequences of our folly and our sin. We may do much to counteract, but we cannot wholly remove. Godlessness, selfishness, worldliness, vice, error, in former years, these have left their traces on our hearts and lives, and on those of others also, and all the waters of all the seas cannot wash them out. Sin may be forgiven, folly may be pardoned, but their miserable consequences flow on - who shall say how far? - in a polluting stream. It does not take a royal hand to do what is irreparable. The hand of a little child is strong enough for that. - C.
I. EVIL OUTLIVES ITS FIRST CONTRIVERS.
Besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman.
1. Haman is dead, but the mischief he devised still hangs over the Jews. A passing stranger may loosen a stone in an embankment, and go on his way; but a whole province will bewail his folly. An infidel father trains most carefully an infidel son; the son becomes an eminent writer and spreads through a whole generation the poison he imbibed on his father's knee. An English colonist, filled with pity for the Caribbaeans, introduces slavery into the West Indies — doing evil that good may come — and for centuries those fair islands are cursed by his device.
2. Evil tends to permanency.
(1) (2) II. EVIL YIELDS BEFORE HOLY SELF-SACRIFICE. Esther was — 1. Intensely solicitous. 2. Persistent. 3. Boldly self-sacrificing. 4. Successful. III. EVIL CRUSHED BUT NOT KILLED. IV. PRACTICAL LESSONS. 1. The folly of infallibility. 2. The power of intercession. 3. The awful nature of sin. (W. Burrows, B. A.)
(2) II. EVIL YIELDS BEFORE HOLY SELF-SACRIFICE. Esther was — 1. Intensely solicitous. 2. Persistent. 3. Boldly self-sacrificing. 4. Successful. III. EVIL CRUSHED BUT NOT KILLED. IV. PRACTICAL LESSONS. 1. The folly of infallibility. 2. The power of intercession. 3. The awful nature of sin. (W. Burrows, B. A.)
II. EVIL YIELDS BEFORE HOLY SELF-SACRIFICE. Esther was —
1. Intensely solicitous.
3. Boldly self-sacrificing.
III. EVIL CRUSHED BUT NOT KILLED.
IV. PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. The folly of infallibility.
2. The power of intercession.
3. The awful nature of sin.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
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