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James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Esther 5

 

 

Verse 13

THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT

‘All this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.’

Esther 5:13

You can imagine how Haman’s heart would glow, as he stepped forth from the banqueting chamber of the queen. His sky was full of glory. He had reached the pinnacle of his desire. Then suddenly, at the king’s gate, he stumbled on his hated Mordecai. And there was no reverence here; no bowing or salaaming. It was intolerable to this intoxicated courtier. He hurries home, and unbosoms himself to his wife and to his friends; somehow, they must get rid of Mordecai. Lady Macbeth would have had him stabbed in the dark. But Lady Haman had a more politic way. Let them get ready a gallows (of twice the usual height), and then get the king’s permission for a hanging. And so the gallows was built, and the gallows was used; but whom it was used for, we shall see.

I. Now the first thing to impress us in this chapter is, how the lack of a very little may spoil all.—Haman would have been supremely happy but for this one Jew who sat in the king’s gate. When he went home from the banquet of Queen Esther, he talked to his friends of nothing but his glory. I have no doubt they had heard it all before. To crown all, there was this second banquet, to which the king and he had been summoned on the morrow. Yet whenever Haman caught a glimpse of Mordecai, his golden cup was filled with bitterness. Had Mordecai only done him reverence, the sun would have shone in its full glory on Haman. But Mordecai refused to do obeisance, and somehow that took the brightness out of all. I think that even the boys in Shushan envied Haman. If they had his horses and his chariots, would they not be happy? But as they grew older they would come to see that all the horses and chariots in the world, and all its feasts and all its gardens, might lose their charm through the lacking of one thing. Very often that one thing is love. The lack of love will take the glory from things, as certainly as Mordecai did. It is thus that in the new-found love of God a man finds everything becoming new.

II. Again this chapter teaches very clearly that nothing is so blind as vanity.—We have a proverb that tells us love is blind, but vanity is blinder still. In Waverley, when Captain Waverley goes to church for the first time in his regimentals, Scott remarks, ‘There is no better antidote against entertaining too high an opinion of others, than having an excellent one of ourselves at the very same time.’ He means that Captain Waverley was blind to the bewitching glances of Cecilia Stubbs, he was so taken up with his own new uniform. A blindness like that had fallen on the heart of Haman. He thought there was no one in the kingdom but himself. It never occurred to him that any one else than he could be the man whom the king delighted to honour. His vanity had made him very blind, and, being blind, he fell into the ditch. Will our girls especially keep that in mind? They will misread so much, if they are vain. The unutterable pity about conceited people is that they miss all that is best and worthiest in others. The eyes of self-forgetfulness are clear. They penetrate secrets wonderfully. Nothing is so blind as vanity.

III. Then, lastly, observe that the king’s honours most not keep us from our duty.—Mordecai was led in triumph through the streets; the horse he rode was royally caparisoned; he was robed in one of the king’s robes of state; he was proclaimed as the man whom the king delighteth to honour. Every roof was crowded, every window was thronged, from every lane and alley the folk came pouring, as Mordecai rode in state through Shushan. And then? ‘Mordecai came again to the king’s gate.’ He went right back to the place where his duty was. No crowds, or cheering, or pageantry, or show could keep this brave man from the post of duty. Now our King may honour us in many ways. He may give us great strength or very signal talents. Above all, He may so illuminate our hearts that we may say, ‘For us to live is Christ.’ But whatever the favours be, our post is still our post. Remember Mordecai and the gate. God in His love crowns us with glory and honour, but the honour must not keep us from our duty.

Illustration

‘One thing strikes us forcibly. It is the restriction that fenced in the Persian court. It was supremely difficult for an outsider to get near the sacred person of the king. Mordecai could get no admittance because of his mourning-garb. He was in sack-cloth, and they that live in kings’ houses wear soft clothing. And even the members of the royal family could not run when they pleased into the royal presence. They had to wait till the king summoned them. There was the terror of assassination in all this; there was the pride that must be fed in isolation; it may be there was a touch of shame, for there were countless deeds of darkness in the court. The Persian monarch styled himself “king of kings,” and because he was that his court was barred and guarded. But the King of kings whom we obey and worship has a door that stands wide open to the world. No one is barred because he is in mourning. He is doubly welcome in such garb. None are denied because they come unsummoned. The invitation is too wide for that.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Esther 5:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/esther-5.html. 1876.

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