Even though God’s name is not found anywhere within the Biblical book of Esther, we can still identify Esther as someone who believed in God and placed her faith, trust, and dependence in Him.
You see, the Persian king Ahasuerus had allowed himself to be talked into authorizing a law that called for the destruction of every Jewish man, woman, and child living within the Persian Empire. But what the king didn’t know was that his own queen was a member of this very same people group that were now scheduled to die in less than a year.
So in response, Esther’s foster father Mordecai asked her to get involved and speak to the king. Unfortunately, Esther couldn’t just walk up to the king with a request to “undo” this law. That’s because no one -not even the queen- was permitted to approach the king without an invitation. The punishment for anyone who dared to approach the king in this manner was automatic death. The only possibility of escaping this instant death sentence depended on the king’s desire to grant mercy to the person who approached him.
Knowing this, Esther made an important decision near the end of the previous chapter…
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16).
So how did this decision help to demonstrate Esther’s trust and belief in God? Well, there would have been no reason for Esther to fast unless she really believed in God and trusted in His ability to grant her favor with the king. After all, fasting could do very little to physically, mentally, or emotionally help Esther get ready for a meeting with the king. However, fasting could definitely help Esther take on a more humble attitude towards God by seeking to put Him ahead of legitimate needs like eating or drinking. This tells us that Esther decided to prepare herself spiritually by fasting, and since most of the fasting seen in the Bible also featured a strong emphasis on prayer, it’s likely that Esther also prayed as well.
But even though Esther demonstrated her dependence on God through this act of fasting, the real test of faith is not in simply saying what you believe, but in acting on you believe- and Esther was about to back up her faith in a big way.
“Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house” (Esther 5:1).
It’s interesting to notice that this passage specifically tells us that Esther “…dressed in her royal robes” (CEV) before she left to meet with the king. While we would normally expect Esther to dress in a manner that was worthy of her royal position as queen (especially when meeting with the king), it’s possible that she had also decided to follow Mordecai’s example and dress in sackcloth during her three days of fasting (see Esther 4:1).
But now that the fast was over, Esther made sure to present herself in a way that was appropriate to the situation. She then left to make her unannounced visit to the king- a visit from which she might never return.
Upon her arrival to the inner court area, Esther placed herself in a position where she could be noticed by the king; then she waited for his response. King Ahasuerus eventually saw Esther waiting for him in the inner court- and the man who ruled over most of the known world at that time made a quick and decisive response to his uninvited guest…
“So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, ‘What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you — up to half the kingdom!'” (Esther 5:2-3).
Esther had risked her life in approaching the king and she was still alive! But Esther had not only lived, she had also been welcomed with an attitude of favor and acceptance as well.
So what can Esther’s experience tell us today? Well, like many other accounts in the Scriptures, Esther’s experience in the court of King Ahasuerus can help give us some insights into some other important spiritual truths. One way to accomplish this is to look at some of the rules that King Ahasuerus had for those who approached him and compare them with God’s rules for those who approach Him- and we’ll see a few of those comparisons next.
“And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand” (Esther 5:2 ESV).
King Ahasuerus had certain rules that governed who was permitted to approach him. But even though Ahasuerus was a powerful king, God is a King who is infinitely greater and more powerful than Ahasuerus ever was. Yet unlike Ahasuerus, God is graciously willing to “extend the scepter” to anyone who comes to Him through Jesus Christ. We know this because the Scriptures tell us, “…there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NLT).
These Scriptures talk about Jesus’ role as “mediator” between God and humanity. A mediator is someone who arbitrates, reconciles, and works out the differences between two people or groups. In a similar way, Jesus is humanity’s mediator because He took the punishment that humanity deserved through His death on the cross. In doing this, Jesus successfully reconciled the differences between God and humanity and opened up the way for us to approach God and have a relationship with Him. As Jesus Himself once said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The New Testament book of Hebrews also uses the imagery of God’s throne room to explain this idea a little further…
“But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16 TLB).
So even though King Ahasuerus might have rejected Esther and sentenced her to death for approaching him, we have the Bible’s full assurance that God will never reject us when we approach Him through Jesus. As the Scriptures go on to tell us in Ephesians 3:12, Jesus is the One “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (NKJV).
So the king offered his welcome to Esther and then responded by saying, “What do you desire, Queen Esther? And what is your wish? It shall be given to you even to half of the kingdom” (Esther 5:3 MKJV). Now it’s unlikely that the king was actually offering to give away half his kingdom to Esther just for the asking. It’s more likely that the king was actually using a figure of speech to communicate something important.
You see, the phrase “…up to half the kingdom” was a phrase used by the leaders of Biblical times to express their willingness to be generous in responding to a request. We can find another use of this term in the Scriptures when a king named Herod said,“Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom” to a dancer whose performance had greatly pleased him (see Mark 6:21-29). So in Esther’s case, we might understand the king’s meaning to be, “I am willing to grant any reasonable request, even if it’s one that’s very large.”
But Esther didn’t want the king to do something for her- she wanted to do something for the king…
“So Esther answered, ‘If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.’ Then the king said, ‘Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.’ So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared” (Esther 5:4-5).
Now King Ahasuerus surely realized that Esther would not have risked her life unless she had a good reason to do so. Whatever had brought her to his throne room had to be something really important. So the king opened the door to act on Esther’s request only to receive an unexpected response: “Your Majesty, please come with Haman to a dinner I will prepare for you later today” (Esther 5:4 CEV).
When you think about it, Esther actually had many different ways to respond to the king’s offer. For instance, she might have immediately told the king everything she had learned about Haman’s plan. She might have asked the king to punish Haman for what he had done. In fact, Esther could have asked the king to put to Haman to death right away. After all, didn’t the king say, “…what is your request? I will give it to you, even to the half of my kingdom” (Esther 5:3 BBE).
But Esther did none of these things- instead she invited the king to dinner. We’ll look at some possible reasons behind this seemingly unusual strategy next.
“Esther replied, ‘If it please Your Majesty, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tonight at a banquet I am preparing for you'” (Esther 5:4 GNB).
When you think about the circumstances that brought Esther to the king’s court, an invitation to join her dinner party seems like a strange request. So what was the idea behind this approach?
Well, Esther’s strategy may have had something to do with the king’s apparent love of feasting and drinking. Remember that King Ahasuerus was the same man who once threw a six-month long party for the important people of Persia and then followed it up with a week-long party for everyone else. Later on when Esther became the Queen, we’re also told that “…the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality” (Est 2:18 NIV).
So Esther apparently wanted to prepare the right kind of environment to make her request, one that the king was sure to enjoy.
There was something else as well. Because Esther had prepared herself spiritually for this meeting with the king, she was able resist any potential urge to immediately discuss everything she had learned. Instead, Esther was able to exercise the qualities of patience and self-control in speaking with the king, two characteristics that also help to identify the work of God in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-23).
But that still leaves us with an important question. Why would Esther also invite Haman to this banquet? After all, Haman would seem to be someone who would be the last person that Esther would want to socialize with. How in the world did he end up on the guest list as well?
Well, if Esther had spoken about her concern with the king alone during this banquet, Haman might later claim that she was lying, mistaken, or simply misinformed. But if Haman was at the table with the king when Esther informed him of what she had learned, the king would then be able to question Haman immediately. Haman would have no time to “spin” the truth or make up a story to cover up the real reason behind what he had done. The king would be able to see Haman’s reaction to Esther’s charges, listen to his response, and judge the truthfulness of her claim for himself.
In any event, King Ahasuerus responded to Esther’s suggestion by telling his servants, “Hurry and get Haman, so we can accept Esther’s invitation” (Esther 5:5 CEV). And so the stage was set for the queen’s intimate dinner party…
“At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, ‘What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!’
Then Esther answered and said, ‘My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said'” (Esther 5:6-8).
After the main dinner course had been finished, it was customary for a selection of fruits and wines to be served as a sort of “dessert” during Persian banquets of that time. It was during this portion of the meal that the king repeated his earlier offer to the queen: “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled” (Esther 5:6 ESV).
But once again, the queen responded in a seemingly expected way: “Esther replied, ‘This is my request and deepest wish. If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask, please come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will explain what this is all about’” (Esther 5:7-8 NLT).
Now Esther had surely gone to a great deal of effort to arrange this banquet. She had chosen the food, prepared the wines, and arranged a place to enjoy their meal. So the question is this: why would Esther go to such great lengths to set the right atmosphere for speaking with the king only to ask him to do it all again on the following day?
Well, even though the Scriptures don’t provide us with a direct answer to that question, we can look at a few possibilities and make some educated guesses about Esther’s strategy.
First, it’s possible that Esther wanted to gain some additional time to re-connect with her husband, the king. Remember that Ahasuerus and Esther had not seen or talked to each other for over a month before Esther made her unannounced visit to the king’s court. It may be that Esther wanted some time to reestablish her relationship with the king before speaking to him about such a serious matter.
We’ll take a look at another possible reason to explain this second banquet next.
“‘If Your Majesty is kind enough to grant my request, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tomorrow at another banquet that I will prepare for you. At that time I will tell you what I want'” (Esther 5:8 GNB).
Why would Esther invite the king to a second dinner party when she seemingly went through so much effort to arrange the first one? Well, another possibility is that Esther sensed during the first banquet that the time or place was not yet right to reveal her true motivation to the king.
This is important when we remember that Esther was dealing with a situation where countless thousands of innocent lives were at stake. Esther was surely aware that one small error in timing or judgment might put the lives of untold numbers of people at risk and she had many different variables to consider in deciding how and when to approach the king on behalf of her people.
One way to illustrate Esther’s difficulty on a smaller scale is to look at some of the challenges faced by computer science professionals today. You see, a typical software application must be programmed to perform various actions whenever certain conditions are met. These conditions are often referred to as “if-then” statements. In other words, if a certain condition is found, then the software is programmed to respond in a particular way.
In a similar manner, Esther also faced a number of “if-then” decisions in her meeting with the king. For example…
- If the king permitted Esther to live after she showed up as an uninvited guest in his court, then she could invite Haman and the king to dinner.
- If the king accepted her invitation, then she could talk to the king about what Haman had done.
- If the time was right to speak with the king during their banquet, then she could discuss her request with him.
- If the time was not yet right, then Esther could invite Haman and the king to a second dinner party.
Of course, the main difference between Esther’s situation and a software environment is that Esther was dealing with real people in real time. And unlike a modern-day software programmer, Esther would have little or no opportunity to go back and change things if any mistakes were made.
There are some other possible explanations behind this second dinner invitation and we’ll look at two of those other possibilities next.
“‘If I please the king, and if the king wishes to grant my wish and my desire, I’d like the king and Haman to come to another feast that I will prepare for them. Tomorrow I will answer the king’s questions’” (Esther 5:8 CEB).
So what else might have led Esther to conclude that the time was not yet right to speak with the king during her first banquet? Well, a third possibility is that the king really didn’t know Haman as well as he thought he did- and Esther may have known a lot more about Haman than the king realized.
We should remember that Haman had been drinking at this banquet according to Esther 5:6. With this in mind, it’s possible that Esther wanted to provide Haman with a second opportunity to demonstrate his real personality before the king. Since people under the influence of alcohol often have a tendency to say and do things that they might never ordinarily say or do, Esther may have realized that Haman was more likely to drop his guard and demonstrate the vicious, murderous nature of his true personality in front of the king- especially if he was alone with two people he felt safe with.
If this is true, then it means that Esther went to great lengths to set Haman up and provide him with one more opportunity to show the king who he really was.
Another possibility is that Esther wanted to stir up the king’s sense of curiosity. We should also remember that Esther had been married to the king for a number of years by this time and that relationship surely helped to provide her with an intimate knowledge of his personality. Esther may have used this knowledge to delay her request in order to make the king more eager to find out what she really wanted.
However, this was a very dangerous approach. First, a powerful monarch like King Ahasuerus probably wasn’t used to waiting around for an answer. Anyone who put off a direct request from the king wasn’t likely to be given an opportunity to do so again. To ask the king to attend a second dinner party also meant that he would have to clear his schedule of anything else he might have been planning to do on the following day just to make room for Esther.
Because of this, it was very risky for Esther to respond to the king by basically saying, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you what I want.” But Esther took a big chance for another reason and we’ll look at that reason next.
“‘Come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will answer your question about what I want'” (Esther 5:8b HCSB).
Esther’s second dinner invitation was extremely risky for another reason. Although the king had been willing to grant Esther’s request on the day that she approached him, there was no guarantee that he would be willing to do so again in the future.
Remember that Ahasuerus was the leader of the Persian Empire and had oversight responsibility over a tremendous land area. Any kind of economic reversal, military conflict, or other piece of bad news could have been enough to change the king’s mood and cause him to become less agreeable to granting Esther’s request.
Finally, there is one other possible explanation that may account for this second invitation. It’s possible that Esther requested this second banquet simply because she lost her courage to speak with the king during the first one.
You see, even though Esther had worked to prepare herself spiritually by fasting along with the other members of the Jewish community in Shushan, the truth is that she was about to make an extremely difficult request from a human perspective. We should keep in mind that Haman was a wealthy, powerful, and influential governmental leader. He was also a man who had been personally appointed to his position by the king. In fact, the king trusted Haman so much that he allowed Haman to act under his personal authority and write a law that permitted him to do whatever he wanted with the Jewish people.
This meant that any attempt to demonstrate the truth about Haman was sure to reflect badly on the king’s judgment once he found out what Haman was really like. For example, if Esther was successful in revealing Haman’s true motive then the king would realize that Haman had not been entirely truthful with him. The king would see that he had been used by Haman (a man he trusted) just so he could pursue a personal feud with a group of age-old enemies. It would also reveal the king as someone who lacked the wisdom, discernment, and understanding necessary to identify Haman for who he really was.
No one likes to be played for a fool and if Esther was successful, the result was sure to come as a personal embarrassment to the king- and Esther would be the one responsible.
“‘…let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow according to the word of the king'” (Esther 5:8 LITV)
While it was very risky to request a second banquet with the king, there was still hope for Esther even if she had temporarily lost her courage to speak with him.
You see, the next chapter tells us how God will use the period of time between Esther’s first and second banquets and turn it to an advantage for her. This also helps to illustrate an important spiritual truth that still applies today: God’s agenda will always move forward in our lives despite any inadequacies or shortcomings we may have. This means that even if we make a mistake or lose our courage in pursuing God’s plan for our lives, He remains capable of using those things for our benefit.
“So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; 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” (Esther 5:9).
It had been a tremendous honor for Haman to be given an opportunity to dine alone with the King and Queen of the Persian Empire. No wonder Haman was joyful and glad of heart- in his mind, he must have considered himself to be a truly special person indeed. But an annoying reality was about to intrude upon Haman’s fantasy world of self satisfaction: “…when Haman saw Mordecai at the King’s Gate, and Mordecai didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai (Esther 5:9 HCSB).
Haman surely expected that his plan to exterminate the Jewish people would have the effect of terrifying, intimidating, and demoralizing their entire race. But it seems that his plan had actually produced the opposite effect, at least with Mordecai. You see, Mordecai had previously refused to bow before Haman but now it seems that Mordecai had actually started ignoring Haman completely. In fact, Mordecai refused to even stand up in Haman’s presence, a common courtesy that people still extend as a sign of respect today.
So even though Haman received the honor of an invitation to dine with the royal family, he couldn’t enjoy the satisfaction that came along with it due to the action of one single person. And once he returned home, Haman took the opportunity to tell his friends and family all about the way he felt.
“Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.
Moreover Haman said, ‘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. Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate'” (Esther 5:10-13).
We’ll find out later that Haman actually had ten sons (Esther 9:7-10) so this, along with the wealth and prestige that came with his rank as a high government official served as a great source of pride for Haman. But this attitude also put Haman dangerously close to violating an important Biblical warning: “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall. Better poor and humble than proud and rich” (Proverbs 16:18-19 TLB).
You see, Haman couldn’t enjoy the blessings he received for one reason: “…all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13 NIV). A closer look at this verse tells us that Haman was not only angry about what Mordecai had done, he was also angry about who Mordecai was as well:
- “…none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai…” (GNB)
- “…all this is nothing to me while I see Mordecai the Jew…” (BBE)
- “…none of this makes me happy, as long as I see that Jew Mordecai…” (CEV)
- “…all this does not really make me happy when I see that Jew Mordecai…” (NCV)
- “…none of this satisfies me since I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King’s Gate all the time” (HCSB, emphasis added to all)
So the fact that Haman specifically identified Mordecai’s race tells us that he had not only used the power of his office in an unjust manner, but that he was also a racial bigot. Haman was angered by Mordecai’s lack of the respect, but also by Mordecai’s cultural heritage as well.
These few verses also reveal another big problem for Haman, a problem that should be especially familiar for anyone living in the 21st century. We’ll look at that problem (and it’s solution) next.
“Then Haman began to relate in detail to them how very rich he was, the many sons he had, and all about how the king promoted him to a position over the officials and the king’s advisers” (Esther 5:11 GW).
It’s no secret that we live in a time when many believe that more wealth, more status, and more possessions will automatically result in more happiness in life. But can that belief really be true?
Well, let’s take Haman as an example. Haman had reached a level of power that was second only to the king in an Empire that ruled over most of the known world. He was wealthy and seemed to be in good health. He had a large family, a number of friends, and the respect (real or enforced) of almost everyone. Yet despite these things, Haman told his wife and friends, “‘…none of this makes me happy, as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the palace gate” (Esther 5:13 CEV).
Haman’s example tells us that someone can set out to achieve every material possession and status symbol this world has to offer but still fail to obtain the happiness and satisfaction that supposedly goes along with those things. That’s because real, genuine satisfaction can only be found in a relationship with the One who created us. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes explains that idea like this…
“…I decided that there was nothing better for a man to do than to enjoy his food and drink and his job. Then I realized that even this pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy apart from him? For God gives those who please him wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away from him and gives it to those who please him…” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26a TLB).
Haman found out that the accumulation of more “stuff” doesn’t necessarily cause someone to become a happier person. So instead of repeating his mistake, it would be far better for us to take Jesus’ advice about money and possessions…
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be’ (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT).
Unfortunately, Haman’s wife and friends were about to give him some very different advice- and we’ll look at what they advised him to do next.
“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” (Esther 5:14).
The word “gallows” is a word that generates vivid images for some, while others may not be familiar with this word at all.
For some people, the word gallows may represent an image from the American old west where outlaws were punished for their crimes at the end of a hangman’s noose. For others, this word may generate an image of a hooded medieval executioner standing atop a wooden platform designed for the execution of criminals. Although both these representations are accurate, the type of gallows mentioned here in Esther chapter five was very different from the ones mentioned above.
You see, a criminal was not put to death by hanging on a Persian type of gallows. The type of gallows that Haman’s wife and friends had in mind featured a vertical wooden stake. The person to be executed was placed atop this pointed wooden stake and impaled upon it until death occurred. This represented a particularly gruesome and horrific method of execution but even that sort of death apparently wasn’t good enough for Zeresh and the rest of Haman’s friends.
You see, these people not only wanted to kill Mordecai, they also wanted to broadcast his death to everyone within visual range by placing him at the top of a gallows that stood “fifty cubits high.” A “cubit” was an ancient unit of measurement that was roughly equal to the distance from a person’s elbow to the tip of his or her middle finger. This distance would represent about 18 inches (46 cm) in a modern system of measurement. So a gallows with a height of 50 cubits would stand about 75 feet (25 m) high if measured today. That’s about the same height as a six-story office building and it would help to make this platform (and Mordecai’s death) easily visible from anywhere within the local area.
A structure this tall would have been difficult to complete before Esther’s second dinner party on the following day so it may be that Haman’s friends had an elevated location in mind (like a building, wall, or hilltop) for the construction of this gallows. But regardless of where it was to be built, the idea behind their concept was clear: everyone in that area had to be able to see Mordecai as he was being put to death.
“’Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it. When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.’” This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up” (Esther 5:14 NLT).
For Haman, this gruesome method of execution would help him accomplish two things. First, it would serve to eliminate Mordecai and his disrespectful, insolent attitude. But this highly visible death sentence would also send a clear message to the Jewish community and everyone else in Shushan: ”This is what happens to those who refuse to show respect to Haman.”
Unfortunately, this advice from Haman’s friends and family shows that they were just as wicked and depraved as he was- and perhaps even more so. Their ruthless advice should to help to remind God’s people of two important things:
- The need to get good counsel and Godly advice
- The importance of making good, God-honoring choices in our relationships
For example, it’s clear that Haman’s wife Zeresh wasn’t the kind of person who could help him live the kind of lifestyle that honored his Creator. She didn’t seem interested in offering any sort of Godly counsel nor did she try to encourage Haman to be grateful for all the blessings he already had. Instead, she encouraged and supported his unhealthy attitude by suggesting a horrific way for him to act on his desire for revenge.
This advice from Haman’s wife demonstrated that her character was very different from the character of a God-honoring woman that’s described for us later in the Scriptures: “A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find! Her husband depends on her, and she never lets him down. She is good to him every day of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12 CEV).
Unfortunately, all of Haman’s friends chose to give him the very same advice as well. For instance, it seems that none of Haman’s friends suggested that he might have been overreacting to Mordecai’s seeming lack of respect. No one advised Haman to consider the fact that there were better ways to handle his feelings of anger. No one asked him to reconsider this suggestion to execute Mordecai and no one tried to stop him.
In this regard, Haman’s friends serve to illustrate the type of friendships that the Scriptures definitely warn against- and we’ll look at those Scriptural warnings next.
“And Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, Make a wooden gallows, fifty cubits high and tomorrow speak to the king that Mordecai may be hanged on it” (Esther 5:14a MKJV).
If you read through the Old Testament book of Proverbs, you’ll quickly find that it’s a book that’s filled with good, common sense advice for daily living. For example, one section of Proverbs provides us with an important warning concerning the type of attitude demonstrated by Haman’s so-called friends…
“My child, when sinners tempt you, don’t give in. Suppose they say, ‘Come on; let’s find someone to kill! Let’s attack some innocent people for the fun of it! They may be alive and well when we find them, but they’ll be dead when we’re through with them! We’ll find all kinds of riches and fill our houses with loot! Come and join us, and we’ll all share what we steal.’
My child, don’t go with people like that. Stay away from them. They can’t wait to do something bad. They’re always ready to kill… people like that are setting a trap for themselves, a trap in which they will die. Robbery always claims the life of the robber—this is what happens to anyone who lives by violence” (Proverbs 1:10-16, 18-19 GNB).
Unfortunately for Haman, the words,“…people like that are setting a trap for themselves…” would eventually be proven true of him as well.
“‘…when this is done you can go on your merry way with the king to the banquet.’ This pleased Haman immensely, and he ordered the gallows built” (Esther 5:14b TLB).
Once Haman had Mordecai out of the way, he could then proceed to Esther’s banquet “…with a glad heart” (BBE). Of course, the suggestion that anyone could enjoy feasting and drinking after violently impaling someone to death says a lot about the character of Haman, his wife, and his friends. This cruel, insensitive attitude has caused one commentator to say, “We should never underestimate the destructive and distorting power of hatred. The same irrational, violent hatred that made Haman want to see Mordecai hang to his death is the same irrational, violent hatred that made man want to hang Jesus on a cross” (1)
So Haman set his sadistic plan into motion. But this carefully crafted scheme was about to be seriously derailed- and all because a certain someone wasn’t able to get to sleep that night.
(1) Guzik, David, Enduring Word Commentary On Esther http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/1705.htm