By J.R. Miller
There was great sorrow everywhere among the Jews. Mordecai rent his clothes and sat in the king's gate, clothed with sackcloth. He sent word to Esther, imploring her to go to the king and plead for her people. The story of her venturing is familiar to all. Her plea with the king was successful. Haman was made very happy by being present by invitation at Esther's first banquet, and went home exultant. That night the carpenters were busy erecting a gallows for Mordecai.
But the same night something else happened. The king could not sleep, and the chronicles of his reign were read to him. There the fact that the king owed his life to Mordecai was recorded, and the further fact that Mordecai's deed had not been publicly recognized. The picture of Haman conducting his enemy through the streets next day as the man the king would honor, is most striking. The tide had turned.
Haman was dead on the gallows he had set up for Mordecai--but the decree for the destruction of all the Jews still stood, and the terrible day was drawing near, when all the Jews should be slain. Unless the decree could be reversed or recalled--they could not be saved. It was at the cost of life, that Esther brought before the king the request that the decree should be revoked.
We get here, a lesson on courage in duty. We learn also that we have a responsibility for others as well as for ourselves. Sometimes the best use one can make of his life--is to sacrifice it, to give it up, that others may be delivered or helped. This is so when the engineer by losing his own life can stop his train and save the lives of the passengers. We learn also that God puts us into places and relationships for the very purpose of meeting some need, performing some service. Esther had been brought into her place at this particular time--that she might do just this particular service for her people. Think what might have happened, if she had failed. Think what may happen--if we fail in any time of duty.
Esther, unaware of the provision of the Persian law that no decree can be recalled, implored the king to reverse the letters devised by Haman, and learned that the reversal was impossible. Far more broadly than we may think this is true in life. We cannot recall any word we have spoken. It may be a false word or an unkind word--a word which will blast and burn! Instantly after it has been spoken--we may wish it back and may rush after it and try to stop it--but there is no power in the world that can unsay the hurtful word--or blot it out of the world's life! It is so with our acts. A moment after we have done a wicked thing, we may bitterly repent it. We may be willing to give all we have in the world--to undo it, to make it as though it never had been. But in vain. A deed done takes its place in the universe as a fact--and never can be recalled.
"Don't write there, sir!" said a boy to a young man in the waiting-room of a railway station, as he saw him take off his ring and begin with the diamond in it to scratch some words on the mirror. "Don't write there, sir!" "Why not?" asked the young man. "Because you can't rub it out." The same is true of other things besides those words written upon glass with a diamond point. We should be sure before we speak a word or do an act, that it is right, that we shall never desire to have it recalled, for when once we have opened our lips or lifted our hand--there will be no unsaying or undoing possible.
Haman had built the gallows for Mordecai--but in the strange and swift movements of justice--Haman was hanged upon it himself! Injustice and wrong recoil upon the head of him whose heart plotted the evil. "Curses, like young chickens, come home to roost." "Ashes fly back in the face of him who throws them." "If one will sow thorns--he would better not walk barefoot." "Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein; and he that rolls a stone, it shall return upon him."
The decree of the king could not be recalled or reversed. But another decree was sent out which in a measure counteracted the former. We have seen that life's words and deeds are irrevocable. We cannot recall anything we have done, neither can we change it. But by other words and deeds, we may in some measure modify the effect of that which we cannot blot out. Paul could not undo his persecutions of Christians--but by a life to devotion to Christ's cause he could in a sense make reparation for the terrible harm he had done. We cannot undo the wrong things we have done--but we should strive to set in motion other influences which may at least compensate in some sense for the harm they have wrought. We cannot unsay the sharp word which wounds our friend's heart--but we can by kindness and loyal devotion--yet bring good and blessing to his life!