Sunday, November 25, 2012

Esther 5 & 6 - Haman's Humiliation

LINK: Esther 5 & 6

BACKGROUND


On the third day of fasting, Esther executed her plan. She took a risk when she went to see the king, and he accepted her by extending the royal scepter. He was so pleased he was willing to give up to half of his kingdom to her. This was an idiom that meant that she could request whatever she desired. (Half of his kingdom would have been quite a bit since it was an area of more than 600,000 square miles extending from Greece (west) to India (east) and from southern Russia (north) to Saudi Arabia (south)!)



Wisely, Esther asked only that the king and Haman join her for a banquet in their honor and then a second one. Apparently, it was an unusual honor to be invited to a banquet with a queen since Persian kings were very protective of their wives. This swelled Haman's pride!


Esther's next request was also very simple: a second banquet. We do not know why Esther did not expose Haman at the first banquet. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states:
From a literary standpoint, this delay raises the tension level as the story moves to its climax. A person reading Esther for the first time would be in a high state of agitation as the tension increased. (p. 708)
We also see God's sovereign hand in delaying Haman's exposure until the second banquet because of the things that happened in between the two.

We see Haman's pride and gloating because he was the guest of honor at a private banquet with the king and queen. His gloating was dampered by Mordecai's refusal to bow down to him. On the suggestion of his wife and friends, Haman built gallows in order to hang Mordecai (probably an impaling stake which was a common method of execution in the ancient world).


In the meantime, the king could not sleep and asked for chronicles to be read to him (that would certainly put me to sleep). Through this, the king discovered that Mordecai had been overlooked and gone unrewarded for saving his life when he uncovered the assassination plot against him! (By the way, extra-biblical sources confirm that the Persian kings were fastidious about keeping records.)


Haman went to the king that day thinking that he would be honored, but much to Haman's mortification, Mordecai was honored rather than impaled, and Haman was forced to watch Mordecai honored rather than himself! What a blow.


When Haman told his wife and friends about the turn of events, they told him he was DOOMED because Haman was a Jew. The ancient pagan world knew that no one could stand against the covenant keeping God.

REFLECTION


"Pride is the deification of self." 
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest


"Pride goes before destruction" (Proverbs 16:18). One of the supreme examples of this truth in the entire Bible is Haman. His ego is on a feeding frenzy. He has power, wealth, position, family, friends, and honor. Yet all of this fails to satisfy his ego. 
Mordecai´s unwillingness to bow down to him sticks like a bone in Haman´s throat. Haman´s wife reveals her character by suggesting a flamboyant display of vengeance: "Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high [75 feet], and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it," she counsels (5:14). The same shadow is darkening both hearts. When pride is taken to this extreme, we see how exceedingly ugly it is. Beware of pride! 
(Quiet Walk Daily E-Devotional, Walk Thru the Bible, July 17, 2008)

APPLICATION
Christ could afford to be humble as He served upon this earth. After all, He was the Son of God. He had nothing to prove. Yet does His Word not also say that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ?  
Do you know who you are?  
Then go ahead and wash a few feet. God's most liberated servants are those who also know they have nothing to prove. (Praying God's Word, p. 66)
It has been a while since we have had a "pride check up" in the Bible Book Club. How are you doing in this area? Search your heart and pray through a selection of Scripturally-based prayers below from the chapter "Overcoming Pride" in Praying God's Word by Beth Moore.

PRAYER



Lord God, Your Word clearly warns us that pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).
God, I know that a man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor (Prov. 29:23). Help me to understand what You mean by a lowly or humble spirit. I want to be a person who gains honor in Your sight. 
Father, it is not enough for me to humble myself for one day (Is. 58:5). You desire humility to be a lifestyle characteristic. 
My Father, how I thank You that the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 29:19). 
Father God, give me courage to admit when I've entered into an unwise alliance. Help me to go and humble myself before the person and press my plea (Proverbs 6:3). 
Sovereign Lord, Your hand has made heaven and earth, and through You they came into being. Your Word says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isaiah 66:2). Father, I can hardly imagine being someone You esteem, but I sincerely want to be! Make me that kind of person through the power of Your Holy Spirit, Lord.
(Praying God's Word, p. 61, 65) 


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