ALEXANDER CARSON, LL.D.
The Christian is warranted to refer to his God the most trifling, as well as the most momentous occurrences of everyday life. He ought to see God in everything. Our God breathes in the air, flows in the sea, shines in the sun, and lives in all life. "In Him we live, and move and have our being." It has ever been the labour of philosophers to banish God from his works, and to carry on the system of the universe without Him. From the Book of Esther the believer may learn to place unbounded confidence in the care of his God in the utmost danger; and to look to the Lord of Omnipotence for deliverance, when there is no apparent means of escape. Jehovah has, indeed, established general laws in the government of the world, yet in such a manner that He is the immediate Author of every particular event.
the history of the deliverance of the Jews through the exaltation of Esther, we
have the whole history of the world in miniature. The Book of Esther is the history of
The Providence of God brings his people into danger, not because he is unable to ward off even the appearance of it, but that he may glorify himself in their deliverance, and exercise their graces.
The Christian has nothing to fear
in any country. If he is called to
suffer, it will be for God's glory and his own unspeakable advantage. If God has no purpose to serve by the sufferings
of his people, he can, under the most despotic governments, procure them rest. Jesus
rules in the midst of His enemies, and is master of the resolves of despots. He restrains their wrath or makes it praise
Him. If He chooses He can give His
people power even with the most capricious tyrants. They are as safe in the provinces of the
Empire of Ahasuerus as in the dominions of
Christians! see here (Esther 4: 15-17; 5: 1-3) the security of God's people in doing duty - see the encouragement to confidence in His protection. From this learn the importance of humbling thyself before thy God in the hour of trial. See the duty of fasting and prayer in the time of trouble and of danger: see the resource of God's people in the time of their calamity. If we need the protection of men, let us first ask it from God. If we prevail with Him, the power of the most mighty and of the most wicked must minister to our relief. How often do Christians look first to the means of deliverance! How often do they try every resource before they go to God with a simple and confident reliance on Him! How is their unbelief rebuked here! What encouragement does this hold out to confidence in God in the utmost danger! Only let us believe, and all things are possible.
Esther's delay in preferring her request is another providential circumstance. Had she at that time declared her request, Haman would not have had an opportunity of performing his part in the drama. This man of glory and of guilt must be allowed another scene on the stage of time to exhibit his character in all its bearings, and to show the disappointment and misery of the enemies of God. His vanity is not yet at the highest pitch; he must be brought to the pinnacle of vainglory. He must be made to minister to the man of God whom he sought to destroy. Then shall he fall never more to rise at all: he must prepare a gallows for Mordecai, but he must himself be hanged thereon. Thus it shall be with the proud and prosperous wicked. Though they may not, like Haman, meet a retribution in this world, their honour will be succeeded with everlasting shame and misery. How vain is earthly glory! How irrational are the struggles of statesmen and courtiers for the giddy height of power! While Haman's happiness appears to the beholder to be complete, his own bad passions make him miserable. In all his glory he confessed himself miserable, on account of the disrespect of an insolent few (ch. 5: 13). Man at enmity with God cannot be happy. The curse denounced against sin has entwined itself with all human enjoyments.
this history of wonderful interposition, there is nothing more wonderful than
the process that led to the exaltation of Mordecai. Why was the greatest service that could be
rendered to man overlooked till it was entirely forgotten? Are absolute monarchs wont to disregard the
saviours of their lives? Shall such
profusion of royal bounty be showered on the head of Haman,
while Mordecai remains unrewarded? What
can account for this strange conduct? One
thing can account for it, and nothing but this can be
alleged as a sufficient cause - the thing was overruled by
At the critical moment of the king's enquiries about Mordecai, Haman had come into the outer court, to solicit for his immediate execution. Mark the Lord of Providence in every step! Had not the king been kept from sleep - had not the book of records been called for his amusement - had not the account of the conspiracy turned up to the reader - Mordecai would now have been given into the hand of his enemy. Mark the Providence of God, also, in having Haman at hand, that by his mouth the honours of Mordecai might be awarded, and that by his instrumentality they might be conferred. Why did the king think of referring the reward of Mordecai to another? Why did he not himself determine the dignities to be conferred on his preserver? Or, if he refers to another, why does he not immediately leave the matter to those now about him? Why does he ask, who is in the court? Why was Haman there at this moment? Why was he the only one that waited so early on the king? Why did Ahastierus put the question in such a manner as to conceal the object of the royal favour? Why does the king, instead of plainly naming Mordecai, use the periphrasis "the man whom the king delights to honour "? Why did this form of the question allow Haman to suppose that he was himself the happy man for whom the honours were intended? At this time the king knew nothing of the designs of Haman, and had no design to ensnare him. Every circumstance here is wonderfully providential. From this we see that God can make the greatest enemies of his people the means of advancing their interests. Whom then ought the Christian to fear but God? Behold the retributive justice of God in the death of Haman! One of the chamberlains, who probably had seen it when he called him to the feast, mentioned the gallows that Haman had prepared in his house, to hang Mordecal. The king said, "Hang him thereon."
history, that has been thought by some unworthy of a place
among the inspired writings, discovers when attentively considered the
most surprising series of events, brought about without a miracle, that ever
was exhibited to the human mind. Among the most admired works of genius, of all
ages and countries, we will not find that the invention of man has been able to
form a story, and connect a series of surprising events like this true history.
Homer and Virgil, and Milton, and all
the writers of epic poetry, have been obliged to use supernatural agency upon
all critical occasions. To interest
their readers they must depart from the ordinary course of nature, and employ
means that never really existed. Gods
and demons and muses are so necessary to the poet that they still leave their
impression on the phraseology of poetry.
If you prevent him from invoking the inspirations of his muse, from
conversing familiarly with Apollo and the Nine, from mounting to the top of
This book, then, whose inspiration has lately been called into question by ignorance speaking from the chair of learning, commends its claims to us in the most convincing manner by its own internal evidence. No human pen could have produced it. The characteristic feature which I pointed out proves it to be a child of God. Had man been its author it would have been crowded with miracles. I challenge the world to produce anything resembling it in this point, from the writings of uninspired men. There is another feature in this history that proves it to be of heavenly birth. There is no instance in which it gratifies mere curiosity. While it informs us of facts, it informs us no further than they contribute to the design of the Holy Spirit, and are important for instruction. In this feature it shows its resemblance to the teaching of our Lord, and to the writings of the Apostles. So far from gratifying idle curiosity our Lord declined compliance with respect to some points in which human wisdom would think it important to be informed. His communications manifest a striking reserve; and even when pressed, he could not be induced to reply to any curious questions. In the writings of the Evangelists and the Apostles, how often do we wish that they had been a little more communicative! And, assuredly, had they spoken from their own wisdom, they would have made a larger Bible.
In ascertaining whether the Book of Esther, among other books, is inspired, we have to enquire, was it in the collection called Scripture in the days of our Lord? If it was, its inspiration is beyond dispute. Jesus Christ recognized the Jewish Scripture as the Word of God. As in rejecting the inspiration of this book, some modem theologians disclaim a first principle entitled to the most confident reception, so they admit some first principles that are mere figments of the imagination. Why is the Book of Esther denied as a book of Scripture? Because it has not the name of God in its whole compass. Here it is taken as a first principle, that no book can be inspired that does not contain the name of God. But where have they got this axiom? It is not self-evident, nor asserted by any portion of scripture, and is therefore entitled to no respect. Whether a book may be inspired, though the name of God is not mentioned in it, depends not on any self-evident first principles, but on matter of fact. And matter of fact determines in this instance, that a book may be inspired though it does not express the name of God.
But if God is not expressly named in this book, He is most evidently referred to by periphrasis, and the strongest confidence in Him is manifested by Mordecai. The faith of that illustrious servant of God is among the most distinguished examples of faith that the Scriptures afford. See ch. 4. 13, 14:- "From another Place." Can there be any doubt as to the place from which he expected deliverance? Is not this an obvious reference to God? Is it not from the retributive justice of God that he threatens destruction to Esther and her father's house, should she decline the intercession through unbelief? Esther also manifests confidence in God, and a resolution to die for His people, if that should be the result of her application in their favour. The power of Jehovah and the love of his people are strongly manifested in the conduct of these two illustrious Israelites. If God is not mentioned by name, He is seen in all their conduct. This book, then, that exhibits the Providence of God, is composed in a manner suited to its subject. God is everywhere seen in it, though He is not named; just so God is every moment manifesting Himself in the works of His Providence, though He works unseen to all but the eye of faith.
not only is the objection invalid, but every one of the same class is utterly
unworthy of respect. A book may disprove
its divine origin by what it contains, but in no case by what it does not
contain: we may as well say that God would not make the sun or the
moon, without writing His name on it, as that he could not inspire a book that
did not contain His name. And one most
conspicuous advantage afforded to the Christian by this book is, that it gives
him a commentary to all the events recorded in history, with respect to the
rise and fall of empires, the prosperity and adversity of nations, the progress
and persecution of the
In the Book of Esther the Christian may see the union of two things apparently irreconcilable - the free agency of men and the overruling appointment of God. Philosophers have exhausted their ingenuity in endeavouring to fathom this abyss; but their line has proved too short. In the Book of Esther we may see that man's actions are his own; yet they are, in another point of view, the appointment of God. When will Christians cease from their own wisdom; when will they in all things submit to the testimony of God; when will they practically admit that God may know, and therefore call upon them to believe, what they cannot comprehend? Will man never cease to make himself equal with God? Will the Christian never learn that he is [contributes] nothing! Disciple of Jesus, go to the Book of Esther, and acquaint yourself with the deepest point of philosophy. There see the solution that has occupied the wise from the very cradle of philosophy, but which philosophy has never solved - which it is not capable of solving, on any other principle than submission to the testimony of God.