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WHAT CAME OF A SLEEPLESS NIGHT
‘On that night could not the king sleep.’
I. It is hardly affirming too much to say that on the sleepless night of the Persian king was made to depend our rescue from everlasting death; at least, and undeniably, the restlessness of the king was one of those instruments through which God wrought in carrying on His purpose of redeeming our race through a Descendant of David according to the flesh. Observe, then, how wonderful is God in that He can accomplish great ends by insignificant means.
II. Notice how little there was which could be called supernatural interference, how simply, without any violence, the Divine Providence effected its purpose.—It was in no way singular that the king should be restless; no miracle was required to explain his choosing to hear the records of his empire; everything was just what might equally have happened had matters been left to themselves, in place of having been disposed and directed by God.
III. We are mightily encouraged in all the business of prayer by the broken rest of the Persian king.—Look from Israel delivered from Pharaoh to Israel delivered from Haman, and we are encouraged to believe that God will not fail even us in our extremity, seeing that He could save His people through such a simple and unsuspected process as this.
IV. The agency employed on the king was so natural, so undistinguishable from the workings of his own mind, that he could never have suspected a Divine interference, and must have been perfectly at liberty either to do or not to do, as the secret impulse prescribed. It depends on ourselves, on the exercise of our own will, whether the suggestions of God’s Spirit be cherished or crushed, whether the impulses be withstood or obeyed.
‘ “I think the king is but a man, as I am,” says Shakespeare in his great play of Henry V, and the attendants who watched King Xerxes tossing would doubtless be whispering that to one another. They would smile to think that he commanded a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, yet could not command an hour’s refreshing sleep. Generally, when an Eastern king was wakeful, he called for music. If he was a saint like David, God’s statutes were his songs. But to-night nothing would please this fevered autocrat, but that one of his chamber-boys should read to him. “How do you know,” a Bedouin was asked, “that there is a God?” “In the same way,” he replied, “that I know in looking at the sand when a man or beast has crossed the desert—by His footprints in the world around me.” And so in this story we hear nothing of God, but we feel that He knoweth what is in the darkness. The book that was brought was the Annals of the kingdom. The page that lay open bore Mordecai’s name. For the first time Xerxes heard of the plot upon his life, and how it had been frustrated by Mordecai. He would reward this Jew in royal fashion—and with that good resolve he fell asleep.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Esther 6". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany