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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Esther 7

 

 

Verse 10

THE BITER BIT

‘So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.’

Esther 7:10

I. Though Haman was punished, the royal decree still stood; and when the day came, the Jews would still be massacred. Esther had been signally successful so far; but her work for her nation was not accomplished yet. Emboldened by her victory, she approached her lord again, urging him to countermand the sad decree. But what could be done? Xerxes himself was powerless. The word of a Persian king once passed was passed for ever. Darius had been helpless to effect the release of Daniel, and now Xerxes was as impotent as he. It was then that a device suggested itself. There are few laws that cannot be somehow evaded. Let Mordecai be made grand-vizier, with full powers. Could he not possibly devise some counter-movement? The king’s word could not be broken, that was clear; but its execution might have unlooked-for issues. So once again the couriers went galloping. The clatter of hoofs was heard in the still night, and wakened the sleepers in many a lonely hamlet. Riders covered with dust and spent with travel spurred into distant market-places as the sun was setting. In an incredibly short space of time there was not a Jewish colony in the kingdom but had got news of how the tide had turned. They were not to let themselves be massacred like sheep; they were to gird on their armour and defend themselves. The moment that a blow was struck at them they were to combine and strike a counter-blow. That was the tenor of the royal mandate. But I have no doubt that the courtiers eked it out. They told how Haman was hanged and Esther honoured. They hinted that no one would be very angry if they went a little beyond the written word. And the Jews freely interpreted their liberty, and used ‘the wild justice of revenge.’

II. The darkest hour is that before the dawn.—We have seen what a pitiable plight the Jews were in. We have heard their cry when the mandate of Xerxes reached them. Exile was sore, but now their case was terrible. Their outlook had never been darker than at this hour. Yet it was then, in the darkness as of midnight, that the second message from the palace reached them. And the writer is at pains to let us see the exultant joy and gladness that they felt. How dark all was to Joseph in the prison, yet the sun was just then on the point of breaking! How dark all was to Jesus on the cross, yet the cross was the very threshold of the glory! All through the Bible God has a message for us when the worst comes to the worst. He enforces on us, by a score of instances, that morning is nearer midnight than we thought.

III. Lastly, there is something nobler than revenge.—After the murder of Rizzio, an old historian tells us, Queen Mary said, ‘No more tears—I will think on a revenge.’ And that, too, was the spirit of the Jews when the news came of the change in their affairs. But after the Indian Mutiny, with all its horrors, do you know the revenge that Lord Shaftesbury took? He founded the Christian Literature Society to spread the knowledge of Jesus throughout India. Try to live in that same spirit. Jesus has come, and revenge is banished now. We serve One Who taught us something nobler when He said, ‘Father! forgive them; they know not what they do.’

Illustrations

(1) ‘The obsequious ministers of despotism, disposed about the chamber and in the anteroom, well understood that the minister was fallen, and in pitiless haste they gagged and pinioned the man, waiting for the king’s pleasure. And then one of the vile wretches who live by watching the veering vane of a despot’s favour artfully suggested that there was a gallows in Haman’s garden, ready for Mordecai. “Hang him on it!” cried the king. At once, without trial or defence, the miserable creature was carried to the gallows in his garden and hanged. To us it appears melodrama. To those who are only too well acquainted with the habits of despotic rulers it all appears grimly probable.’

(2) ‘Learn the universal truth under this story. Be sure of it that in ways we cannot see, the evil we do will come back upon ourselves. The weapons of sin are not so much like arrows, they are rather like Australian boomerangs. Others must suffer whenever we do wrong, and that alone should make us hate all wrong-doing; but in a weakened will, and in debased affections, in a coarser manhood, and in a loveless and lightless future, we shall yet be the great sufferers ourselves.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Esther 7:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/esther-7.html. 1876.

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