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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Esther 4

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This chapter begins with the relation of the effect Haman's plan had upon the minds of the Jews. The great distress in which the whole were involved. An account is given to Esther. She conferreth messages with Mordecai upon it. A fast is appointed by Esther, before she ventures into the king's presence.

Verses 1-3

(1) ¶ When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; (2) And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. (3) And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

The subject riseth to a very interesting point at the opening of this chapter. Mordecai well knew that he was the cause which had called forth Haman's vengeance. He doth not recant however, or humbly seek peace with Haman. This would have been to have courted the favor of man, and slighted the confidence he had in GOD. It was GOD'S cause in which he was embarked: and, no doubt, his eyes were to the LORD for deliverance. But until deliverance should be wrought, if it pleased the LORD to grant such a mercy, Mordecai gives vent to sorrow. It is certainly a beautiful feature in his character, that he came forth publicly, by this cry in the midst of the city, to show that he was a Jew. But while viewing the subject in its first and literal sense as an history, we may, I think, without violence, as it concerns the church of GOD, behold it also spiritually. A proclamation of GOD'S righteous law is gone forth against sin and transgression; for, void of deliverance by JESUS, universal, and everlasting destruction is assuredly to fall, from the presence of our LORD, on all who know not GOD, and obey not the gospel of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. And while the awakened sinner is unacquainted with the means of escape in the redemption by JESUS, like Mordecai he will rent his clothes and cry aloud with a great and bitter cry; what must I do to be saved?

Verses 4-12

(4) So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not. (5) ¶ Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. (6) So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate. (7) And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. (8) Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. (9) And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. (10) Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; (11) All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. (12) And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

The several conferences here, carried on by means of the chamberlain between Esther and Mordecai, serve to show how much Esther took it to heart. But the Persian custom totally precluded the women of the king's chamber, to have any personal conversation, with any other than the chamberlains appointed by the king to attend them. This may serve to explain why it was, that Mordecai could not be permitted to see Esther in person. Even so critical a moment as this made no allowance. Reader! pause over this part of the history and consider the happiness of GOD'S people. A throne of grace is always open to thee. JESUS not only is ready to receive his people, but he waits to be gracious. His hand is full of gifts, and his heart full of love, and grace is dropping like the honey-comb from his lips. And lest his people after all the many blessed things which are said of him, should still be backward to draw nigh; we are commanded to come boldly to a throne of grace in his blood, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in all time of need. Hebrews 4:16 .

Verses 13-14

(13) Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. (14) For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Though I must not swell the observations on this history too largely, yet I must beg the Reader to remark with me several very striking traits of character, in this account of Mordecai. In the first place, what faithfulness he used with the queen; telling her she was a Jew, and most certainly as a Jew, she would, and must be, dealt with in the end by this desperately wicked enemy, Haman. In the next place, Mordecai's faith in GOD is eminently great upon this occasion. Whether Esther would or not stir herself in the perilous moment; yet the cause was GOD'S, and deliverance would come. And thirdly, Mordecai gently intimates, that no doubt the LORD had advanced her to the throne purposely to be his instrument; but if she neglected it, her ruin, and the whole house of her fathers, would be the more abundantly aggravated. By these arguments the faithful Mordecai endeavored to direct the eye of Esther to the LORD, under this pleasing confidence, that as the LORD had placed her where she was for his glory, he would help her through every difficulty, in the accomplishment of his own blessed designs for his people's deliverance. Reader! do not fail to make application of these most gracious thoughts of the faithful Jew, to thine own circumstances, and the circumstances of the church of JESUS in all ages, as they may be required. It is sweet, it is precious, to eye the hand of the LORD in all events. And it is equally so to trust GOD upon all occasions. The Holy One of Israel is engaged for his people's welfare, both by word, and by oath, and by the blood and righteousness of his dear Son. And he hath manifested his faithfulness, as all the saints have borne testimony under all trials. Why then, Reader, shall you or I be an exception to this everlasting care and love that JEHOVAH hath to his people? Oh! for faith to give GOD in CHRIST the credit of GOD, and to believe in him when matters are most dark and discouraging.

Verses 15-17

(15) Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, (16) Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. (17) So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

How the LORD wrought upon the mind of Esther is evident from what is here said. She enters not upon the service to which she was called, without first looking up to the LORD both for a blessing and direction. Reader! she did as I pray GOD you and I may have the same grace to do upon all undertakings for GOD'S glory, and our own happiness; she sought to GOD according to that blessed promise, which thousands have found true, and none ever failed in: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6 . And it is a maxim sooner or later to be depended upon, he that begins in prayer will find cause to end in praise. I admire the piety of Esther. She was indeed a true Israelite in setting up a fast herself, and in calling upon the church to the same. Here was a sweet example of what is frequently spoken of, but not so generally regarded, the communion of Saints. Though Esther and the Jews of the city of Shushan, were separated by walls and absent in body, yet were they present in Spirit. And oh! what might we not expect to follow such spiritual converse among the people of GOD, when we call to mind that one and the same Almighty SPIRIT, is the quickener of all, the helper of the infirmities of all, and maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of GOD. Romans 8:26-27 . The resolution Esther took of going in uncalled before the king, was highly proper and noble. GOD in covenant is a sure GOD; and in all cases which are for his glory and his people's welfare, he will manifest himself their helper. But (as if Esther had said) if there be a doubt concerning this particular providence now pending, if the LORD hath given us up to chastisement, I can but perish; and if I do I will yet die trusting. Reader! while we admire this woman's faith, let you and I seek grace to exercise that faith yet higher. None can perish who hang on GOD'S covenant engagements in JESUS. And therefore to say (as some do say,) if I perish, I will perish at CHRIST'S feet, is a contradiction in itself, and plainly manifests that their faith who say so, is not what it should be. Oh! for faith to believe the record which GOD hath given of his Son. And in this faith to go in before the king of Kings, and LORD of Lords, with a firmness of assurance like Jobadiah will he plead against me (saith Job) With his great power? No. But he will put strength in me. There the righteous might dispute with him so shall I be delivered forever from my judge. Job 23:6-7 . Reader! pause, and admire the grace of faith given to this man. And while you admire, beg of GOD to be made a partaker of the same. Surely, the true believing soul in JESUS, if he gives credit to the word of JEHOVAH, or the infinitely precious value of the Redeemer's blood and righteousness, can never fear to perish, while secured in the double stronghold of GOD the FATHER's sovereign grace, and GOD the Son's justifying righteousness. LORD! grant in this faith my soul may daily, hourly live, and in this perfect assurance die. Amen.

Verse 17


READER! here is a large fund of rich things in this chapter, to call up thy most awakened contemplation. Mordecai, in the prospect of the destruction of his countrymen the Jews, covered himself with sackcloth, ran into the midst of the city, and uttered a loud and bitter cry, in token of the threatened miseries of the people. But if you and I had but a deep sense of the threatened punishment of everlasting miseries, which are hanging over the heads of all that hold the truth in unrighteousness; could we but properly ascertain the sorrows of that tribulation, and wrath, which must assuredly one day light upon all the workers of iniquity; what bitter dolorous cries would issue from the heart, in the sad prospect of such dreadful, everlasting misery? But how little do the most awakened consider, as they ought these solemn things! GOD speaks once, yea twice, and man regards it not. Oh! LORD! take to thyself thy great power, and turn back the hearts of the people to seek thy face, before the great and terrible day of the LORD shall come.

Reader! think, if it be possible, of the vast difference between the court of Persia, and the court of heaven. See in the case of Esther the queen, how wretched that one so high in rank should yet be in danger of her life, if presuming to come into the king's presence uncalled. Whereas thou hast not only a court of heaven, and a throne of grace at all times to fly to; but one there who commands thee to come boldly, to find mercy and grace to help in all times of need. One, who makes thy cause his own. One, who is more interested for thy welfare than thou art for thyself. One, who hath loved thee and given himself for thee. Oh! precious, precious JESUS! to thee, LORD, would I come; not according to the law of my obedience, for I have nothing to plead of this kind; but in the law-fulfilling, and all-perfect righteousness of thy finished salvation. And oh! how sure and certain is my reception of grace and mercy from thee; since thou hast said.; All that the FATHER hath given me, shall come to me, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out. My sheep shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. Be thou everlastingly blessed, O my GOD and Saviour; and let a throne of grace witness for me, that in thee and thy salvation do I put my trust; so shall I never be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Esther 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/esther-4.html. 1828.
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