During my quiet time, I’ve been reading the books of Ezra and Esther. In chapter 5, Queen Esther has invited the king and Haman (the bad guy) to a banquet of wine at which she invites them both to yet another banquet. At the second banquet, she intends to present a larger request to the king. Haman fancies himself as one of extreme importance. After all, back in chapter 3, the king had “advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him.” Just what an arrogant man doesn’t need.
But back to chapter 5…after having been invited to the second banquet by Queen Esther, Haman is happier than a pig in slop (no, I’m not from the south nor from a farm). We catch up with him in verse 9.
So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart;
I think that’s perfectly understandable. After all, he’s been promoted by the king and was the only other person invited to the queen’s banquets along with the king. I’d probably be feeling pretty special at that point, too. But that’s not the end of verse 9.
…but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.
Amazing, isn’t it, how one person, one mere man, can rain on his parade so quickly? Everything was going well for him (at least as far as he knew), but because this Jewish man refused to honor Haman the way he felt he deserved, it infuriated him. So much for the joyful and glad heart.
Remarkably, Haman “restrained himself and went home.” Oftentimes, people with extreme anger aren’t very good at this. Then again, sick and diabolical people can manage some level of self-control…for a time.
Once home, he summonsed his friends and his wife Zeresh. In serious need of an ego boost, he proceeds to tell of “his great riches, the multitude of his children, all the ways in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.” Not only that, he told them, “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.” (verse 12)
I’m sure his friends and wife oohed and ahhed over his position and prestige. I imagine they said all the right things to give him that boost he so desperately needed. But it still wasn’t enough. He goes on to say, “Yet all of this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (verse 13)
All the blessings he sees in his life – power in the kingdom above all others besides the king, honor of the king and queen, wealth, children, and probably much more – isn’t enough. Because he allows this one man, Mordecai the Jew, to get under his skin. He just can’t let it go and move on. Ninety-nine percent of his life looks pretty incredible. But it’s that 1% which gnaws at him and utterly diminishes everything else.
Just as many wives and friends would probably do, they want to see him happy. They want him to have what he desires. The problem is, they find a way to offer it that is sick and evil. Seeing how Zeresh’s name is listed before his friends, I assume that she came up with this twisted plan, or his friends did and nominated her to present it, or they all colluded together. Regardless, a diabolical plan was offered:
Then his wife, Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made. (verse 14)
What a wicked and tragic verse!
First of all, their only concern is that Haman isn’t happy with his 99%. Secondly, they quite willingly offer up the death of another human to appease Haman’s narcissism and even get the king’s approval of this murder. Lastly, they suggest that once this bothersome person is out of the way, Haman can “then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” Merrily? Yeah, have another man murdered and then eat, drink, and be merry.
So you may be wondering where the lesson is in all this. There are four things that God showed me as I studied this chapter.
- Be humble. Not like this isn’t mentioned in other places in Scripture. But pride is insidious and can creep in at any time. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
- Don’t allow one inconsequential person or thing to detract from all the rest of life’s blessings. This breeds seeds of discontent. We are to be grateful for what we have, not obsessed with what we don’t. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
- Stay focused on the Lord, not that which is an insult to my pride. It doesn’t matter what others think or say about me. The only opinion which ought to matter is God’s. My pride is in direct contradiction to His glory. I am surely not greater than Jesus. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7
- Don’t influence my husband or friends towards evil or cruel behavior. I should be encouraging others to godliness, righteousness, and growth in their relationships with Jesus. I need to value human lives and spur those within my sphere of influence on to love. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
It’s only as I spend time with the Lord and in His word that I can accomplish this list and keep my flesh and pride at bay. But there’s great joy that comes when I take that time and live in close connection with Him!