As we start this Esther 6 Bible study, Haman is now on his way to the palace. Walking through the streets. Entering the gate. Right into the outer court. But he is unaware of what’s been happening with the king that night. Let’s read about it 6:1-5.
What keeps the king awake
6:1 ¶ On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him. 4 And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king’s house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.
Verse 1 makes me laugh. The king couldn’t get to sleep. Did he want to sleep? Yeah, I imagine he did. Now these days when we can’t sleep we might reach for some supplement or medicine or herb. We might even read a book. Dr. Oats last week recommended Systematic Theology books. Ahasuerus – not surprisingly – didn’t have one of these. And so he reached for a second best – a book wherein were recorded all the proceedings of the kingdom. And civil happenings are often not very interesting. So the king thinks this might put him to sleep. But it didn’t! Why? Because he actually found something interesting in there. He found that this man named Mordecai had saved his life! This thwarted-assassination would have happened probably over 5 years ago. And so he needs some help remembering if anyone ever did anything to honor Mordecai. No, nothing had been done. Apparently Ahasuerus hears some stir in the outer court as Haman enters. So he has Haman enter his room. Apparently the golden scepter rule doesn’t apply to Haman for whatever reason.
Now don’t miss the sweet irony here. This is exhilarating. You should be at the edge of your seats. Mordecai’s life hangs in the balance. Haman has come to see to it that that balance is tipped to Mordecai’s destruction. And Haman does this right at the time when king Ahasuerus not only knows who Mordecai actually is – but now the king has his heart set on honoring this man… whom Haman wants dead. We need to keep reading! 6:6-11.
Here comes Haman!
6:6 So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? 7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, 8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: 9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. 10 Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. 11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
Misunderstandings and miss-communications are a commonplace of literature. I think that’s because they’re a commonplace of every day life. No matter whether you lived in Esther’s day or ours, these things happen.
I remember when Lori and I were on our honeymoon in Nova Scotia. It was New Year’s Day. And the cabin owner came by and told us they were “letting the polar bears out today.” We looked at each other and agreed we should go. On the way there I said to Lori in all earnestness, “boy, I would think it wouldn’t be very healthy to be a polar bear.” Lori turned to me as if I was crazy. She asked why I would even wonder something ridiculous like that. I started to feel a little hurt by her apparently callous response. UNTIL – I discerned she and I were thinking that we were going to see two very different types of “polar bears” that day. So I let the secret lie until we got to the lake shore. And shortly after we arrived, the countdown started. And then there they came! The polar bears! A bunch of big Canadian men running into the freezing cold water. Meanwhile… Lori was still looking for the polar bears. You know, the kind with claws and white fur? You’re laughing – or at least you should be!
And now you know how we’re supposed to take this interchange between Haman and Ahasuerus. They’re talking past each other. And it’s humorous. Ahasuerus asks for Haman’s advice here. And he’s also trying to find someone to whom he can delegate this task. The king asks Haman how he should honor a certain individual. Of course, Haman can think only of himself, and so he thinks up a marvelous extravagant plan involving horses, royal garments, and a herald! I can imagine Ahasuerus watching Haman as he gives this detailed plan of how the king can honor him. Haman ends. And Ahasuerus maybe leans forward and says, “That sounds good. Go and do that… for Mordecai!” Ahasuerus has no idea of the enmity between Haman and Mordecai. Oh, to see the look on Haman’s face! And what about when he’s being forced to lead his mortal enemy around and issue his proclamation before him? What a sight that would have been!
This truly is the turning point of the whole book. Up until now the situation for the Jews has been looking worse and worse. And now – just when Haman was going to request the execution of Mordecai – it’s Mordecai who triumphed over Haman. As I said at the beginning of this message, this scene is the apex toward which the story has been building. Now there’s nowhere to go for the enemy of the Jews besides DOWN! Let’s read the next scene as we descend the mountain in 6:12-14.
The enemies are going down
6:12 ¶ And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. 13 And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. 14 ¶ And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
I love how humble Mordecai is. He just simply returns to work. He probably wouldn’t have known anything about how this developed – how it was that his mortal enemy came and honored him. I guess Mordecai just didn’t think too much about it. He just goes back about his business. But Haman on the other hand certainly does think about what just happened. And he’s grieving about it. So he again calls his wife and friends together. Remember, last time they suggested that he build a 75 foot high gallows upon which he might hang Mordecai. But this time their counsel is different. I imagine that Haman was again looking for some consolation. But he would not be receiving it from this group this time. This time, they give him an ominous and morbid warning. If Mordecai is a Jew and he’s starting to prevail over you, he’s going to be the death of you!