Haman has just left an amazing banquet served by Queen Ester. He runs into Mordecai on the way out and his joy is pushed out by bitterness.
Mordecai came to Ester for help when the plot of Haman was uncovered. Because Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman as he passed, Haman has influenced the king in writing a law that will eradicate the Jews from the land of Persia. Ester is in a perfect place to help save the Jews. As perilous as this is, she undertakes the task.
Step one was to prepare before the Lord. She, her handmaidens, and all the Jews in Susa fasted for three days and nights. They prayed for Ester to be safe as she approached the king.
Step two commenced with being noticed by the king. Ester put on her finest and went to stand outside his throne room. Her entire demeanor was meant to arouse his favor. It worked! When the king saw her he offered her up to half of his kingdom.
Step three was to wrap Haman up in a neat package. This begins with Ester inviting the king AND Haman to a special feast she has prepared. They both attend and are blown away by the honor of her hospitality. As dinner ends she is again offered anything she wants, up to half of the kingdom, by the king. All she asks for is a second dinner with these two ‘fine gentlemen’. Granted!
We left Ester, Haman and the king as the men rose to continue their business of the day. Ester was busy planning the meal and setting for the next day. Let’s join Haman as he exits the palace and makes his way home to share his good fortune.
♥ ♦ ♥
The king and Haman have exited the banquet room. Out of the corner of her eye Ester watched Haman as he strode away. His head is held high, his back straight and his chest is puffed up. “If he had feathers he would have them spread like a peacock” thinks Ester. When he moves from her sight she turns her attention to the preparations for the next feast.
The king and Haman part ways right after leaving the banquet. Each have duties that need tending to. The king returns to his throne with one question weighing on his mind. “What is her request going to be?” He knows his queen well enough to see she has a burning need and he longs to fulfill it, if he can. But what can it be? Does she not already have everything a woman could desire? He will have to wait until tomorrow to find out. He refuses to dishonor Ester by trying to force her answer from her.
Haman is so full of pride from being an honored guest at a private banquet hosted by the queen that he struts across the courtyard. His next stop is his home where he will retell, to his friends and his wife, every detail of the honor bestowed upon him by the queen. As Haman makes his way out of the palace the air around him feels positively charged with possibilities. There are no limits to how high he can go now that even the queen is honoring him.
As Haman passes the common people along his path they all scrap and bow to him. He deserves every ounce of their worship. As he approaches the king’s gate he spies Mordecai seated there. “THIS will be the day he recognizes my authority.” Head held a little higher and chest puffed out, Haman passes through the king’s gate.
Mordecai doesn’t even stir from his seat. It is almost as though he didn’t even notice Haman was there. But that can’t possibly be it because the other men near him called out his name as they knelt beside his path.
Haman didn’t even realize he was holding his breath until it was stolen from his lungs in an exhalation that took with it all the excitement Haman had been feeling. It took every ounce of his reserve not to run back and pound Mordecai into the dust. Haman clenches his fists and quickens his step. He longs for the safety of his home where he can fully express his disgust with this situation.
Bellowing out orders as soon as he crosses the threshold of his home, Haman directs his servants to gather his wife and friends. The tone of his voice leaves NO question but that this dispatch must be done with the utmost urgency. Within a quarter of an hour Haman’s friends and family are gathered around him. He has nearly worn a hole in the floor with his pacing while awaiting their arrival.
Finally all his friends are gathered round him. Head held high, Haman begins to speak. “I am the most blessed man in all of Persia, second only to the king. My herds continue to grow each year. My gold and silver put the moneychangers to shame. I have ten strong sons who oversee my fields and vineyards. I have been raised up by the king himself on not one but FIVE separate occasions. There is none more honored in the kingdom except the king himself. Even the king’s own officials and servants bow down to me! ‘Even Queen Ester let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king’ (verse 12)”
Nods abound in Haman’s audience. Haman’s wife is filled with pride for her husband and it is shining brightly in her eyes.
The joy melts like the wax of a candle from Haman’s face as he continues. He begins to pace once more. “Yet all this is worth nothing to me,…” Haman swipes his hand through the air as if clearing a table “…so long as I see Mordecai the Jew” Haman holds his hand out towards the palace “…sitting at the king’s gate” (verse 13). Haman ends by slamming his clenched fist into the palm of his other hand.
His friends have heard of Mordecai before. All the provinces know of the steps Haman has taken to rid them of this people. But Haman’s current distress is too urgent to be passed off until the appointed day. Haman won’t be able to contain himself that long. Their friend is in danger of losing control.
“I have an idea” offers his wife Zeresh.
Haman turns to her. Women are not permitted to speak in the presence of men but she was personally invited to this meeting. Haman has long known the value of her mind. “Speak my wife.”
“Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast” (verse 14b).
An evil smile spreads across Haman’s face. He steps over to his wife and grasps her by the shoulders. “That, my lovely wife, is an excellent idea. Then he shall be seen from every corner in Susa. This is what becomes of those who show disdain for the king’s closest advisor and honored guest of the queen.”
Haman’s friends also agreed with his wife’s suggestion. Many of them volunteered to build the gallows. Construction had to begin immediately so that it would be ready first thing in the morning. It would take everyone working together to grant Haman a successful day and a fitting end to his tormentor, Mordecai.
(to be continued)
♥ ♦ ♥
Before reading deeply into our story this time I didn’t realize that Haman’s gallows was built in one night. I always thought that he took a while in building it. ONE fly in his ointment spoils his whole world. Haman could have chosen to focus on ANY of the things that had gone right in his life. His wealth. His fame. His position. His children. All those things that let him stand head and shoulders above all the rest of the people. But all it was overshadowed by Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him. Haman didn’t even notice this himself. The king’s servants pointed it out to him. Once he knew, it stuck in became a root of bitterness so deep that it pushed everything else out.
How many times do we do this? I know I did it with my weight for a LONG time. I was so fixated on the number on the scale that I nearly killed myself. I contemplated suicide and also taking a knife to my fat thighs so my insurance would have to pay for surgery to repair the damage, resulting in thinner thighs. I completely pushed from my heart all the good things about myself and my life. The only thing that kept me hanging on by a thread was my children. I couldn’t leave them to whatever fate would befall them with my death.
God gave me that thread to hold onto until He could break through my pain. And it was well earned pain from a lifetime of ‘injuries’. But I let them grow and fester instead of giving them to Him. I STILL struggle with this issue, both physically and mentally, but it no longer controls my heart. God has dug up the roots of bitterness and replaced it with gladness and an appreciation for ALL He has given me.
Are you letting something rob you of your joy? I can tell you from experience that it will only heal when you turn loose of it and give it to God. It will take turning loose MANY times before you can finally let go but it is worth the work. Joy comes in the morning!
Thank You Father for sustaining me when my focus was so narrow. Thank You for every time You hold me even now when those old thoughts try to take me captive again. Don’t let me fixate on the problems and ignore the blessings.
There is a time to deal with problems. Help me work out those solutions without getting lost in the process. I KNOW I can trust You to keep me safe Father. I don’t want to end up swinging from my own gallows!