In the story of Esther we read that she responds wisely to an evil scheme to destroy her people. Haman, on the other hand has an undisciplined temper tantrum and meltdown.
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Last time we learned that, despite the risk, Esther was willing to appear before the king and plead for him to intervene on behalf of her people, although he wasn’t aware that she was a Jew. Esther had enlisted the prayerful support of Mordecai and the Jews in Susa. She asked them to stand with her in prayer and fasting for three days before she went before the king.
We must remember that even the queen couldn’t appear before the king without being summoned. If the king didn’t extend his scepter toward her, the law said she could be put to death.
Esther 5: 2-3 says, “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. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom’” (ESV).
Esther, the King and Haman
God had been gracious. The king welcomed her into his presence and expressed his favour with an incredibly generous offer, and yet, Esther would not be distracted from her mission. Still she did not immediately explain the situation to the king. Instead, she invited him and Haman to a feast. After they ate and drank, she invited them to a second feast the following night.
Haman must have been in his glory. Two private dinners with the king and queen. His already overinflated ego must have grown by leaps and bounds. And yet, there was still the problem of Mordecai’s defiance.
Although the king had commanded that the people bow down in Haman’s presence, this man refused to do so.
In the story of Esther in 5:9-14, we read, “And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled
with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, ‘Even Queen Esther 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. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.’ Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Let a gallows … be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.’ This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made” (ESV).
The beginning of this passage reminds me of an irrational toddler throwing a temper tantrum. As we read further into the passage, I realize that, sometimes, we do something similar. We gather friends and family around us who with sympathize with our position. And instead of calming us down and “speaking the truth in love” (as it says in Ephesians 4:15), they feed into our perception—and may even make matters worse.
Can you imagine how excited Haman must have become when his wife and friends suggested he have Mordecai hung? Now that would teach him—and any others who contemplated defying Haman—a lesson! Little did the king’s official know that God had entirely different plans.
What can we learn from today’s portion of the story? How are these individuals just like us and what tendencies should we ask God to give us the determination and grace to overcome?
Where do Courage and Wisdom Come From?
Although Esther was willing to risk appearing before the king, she did ask for Mordecai’s support and the support of all the Jews in Susa. The queen and her young women would also pray and fast. It wouldn’t surprise me if God gave her the wisdom as to how to approach the king as a result of their prayers and fasting.
Sometimes we Should Take Things Slowly.
In far less drastic situations, my desire is to pour out my heart. And if I could do so to someone with the power to change a bad situation, I would want to tell them everything at once. But Esther knew better and proceeded slowly. Such wisdom and restraint!
Beware Your Attitudes and Actions
We must not allow our attitudes and actions to be directed by an individual as Haman did.
Because of pride, Haman obsessed over Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to him. This obsession led Haman on a destructive path that would end where Haman never imagined. Although the king’s official refused to acknowledge it, Mordecai was actually setting a good example, one to be learned from, not one to motivate revenge.
While I’m certain none of us is in a situation like Haman’s, there are times we assign too much power to another’s words or actions. We obsess over them. We allow them to steal our joy. And we rarely consider what lessons God wants to teach us in our situation.
We must gather wise counselors around us—not simply people who will say what we want to hear.
Haman complained to his wife and his friends. Instead of “talking him down,” as the saying goes, they made matters worse—far worse.
We all need advisors who care enough about us to let us know what we’re on a dangerous path. I’ve often said that I hope there are people in my life who love me enough to let me know when I’m making poor choices. Of course, as believers, we should seek out counselors, advisors, and friends who are diligent students of God’s Word and will advise us based on the directives and commands found in the Scriptures.
Seek God’s Plan
We must seek God’s plan rather than our own.
Seeking God-honouring, instead of ego-boosting, advice is vital, but we can’t base our actions exclusively on others’ understanding of the Scriptures. We must prayerfully study it for ourselves and ask the Lord to change our attitude and redirect our path as needed.
May we humbly seek the Lord’s direction from godly men and women and directly from the pages of His Word.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
More About the Story of Esther
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Maltese Palace – strecosa
Persian Sculpture –baillif
Queen – jbundgaa
Group of Women – rawpixel
Nathan Diaz – Power
Randy Bushey – Spiritual Warfare
Rebekah Hughes – Go Forward
Ron and Crawford – Deeper Relationships in the Church