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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Esther 4

 

 


Verses 1-17

Esther 4:8. He gave him the copy of the writing; for the decree, or dogma, was exposed to the public.

Esther 4:11. One law of his to put him to death. This was an ancient law of the Persian kings. Herodotus has noticed it much the same as in the text. The Assyrian kings, it would seem, did not permit their subjects at any time to see them. This law was the effect of fear: the monarchs of the east being absolute and tyrannical, plots were often formed against them; it was also thought to contribute to the sanctity and divine homage claimed by those kings, that they should not be seen by their subjects. Ministers favoured this law, because it made their services more essential to the sovereign, and augmented their influence over the people.

Esther 4:16. If I perish, I perish. The LXX, “Though it may behove me to perish.” God gave Esther the soul of a princess.

REFLECTIONS.

The poor Jews, who had now lingered in Babylon and in Persia near thirty years after the emancipation granted by Cyrus, were suddenly appalled and terrified by this sentence passed against them. No doubt they would bitterly reproach their unbelief concerning the prosperity of Zion, and the attachment to their lands and shops, which had detained them among the heathen. They would bitterly regret that they had not gone with Zerubbabel, or with Ezra, to sustain a few hardships in cultivating the inheritance of their fathers; for the brethren in the confines of the empire would have the best advantage of escaping the carnage. Thus it is that afflictions and danger bring our sins to remembrance, and constrain us to acknowledge the equity of God’s pursuing hand. Take heed, thou man of the world, lest thy heart, lingering in the avocations of life, and forgetful of Zion, do not bring upon thee some terrible visitation from God.

Mordecai and the Jews took the wisest way to avert the calamity: they put on sackcloth, they fasted and prayed. These offices of piety excite in the soul the finest dispositions. They cause us to put away and bewail all past offences, and engage the omnipotent arm to undertake the defence of the afflicted. To fasting and prayer this good man joined prudential counsel, because it is tempting the Lord when we indolently ask his help, without using the means he has already put in our power. He repeatedly urged Esther to go directly to the king, and beg the life of all her people. He counteracted her fears of dying by the consideration of the danger in which her life stood in common with the Jews. The counsellors who had ruined Vashti would hardly spare an obnoxious alien; and he encouraged her to this high duty by the grateful consideration of her elevation to the throne. And how many, and how great are the considerations which should urge us to act for God in the salvation of souls, and in the good of his people. Health, fortune, and life itself are mere private considerations when compared with the advancement of his glory.

This elevation of Esther to the kingdom, Mordecai made his last and great argument. And all those favoured characters, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and others, whom God raised from obscurity to the greatest lustre, were not raised vainly to wear fine robes, and riot in wealth; but to benefit nations, to punish the wicked, and protect the church. The object was worthy of their mission, and their mission was worthy of the Lord. Hence every man should regard his talents and offices as so many trusts, for which he must one day give an account to God. What then must be the shame of those great men who forget the sacred characters of their duty. Let the christian learn to weep in Israel’s tears, that he may learn to trust that arm which covered them with an omnipotent defence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 4:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/esther-4.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 30th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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