This week brings us to the heart of Esther, chapters 5 and 6. These chapters are interesting, amusing, and ironic, so I would highly recommend that you read them for yourself, but here is an overview:
- Esther bravely risks her life by going to the king uninvited, but he holds out the golden scepter, and that means she gets to live.
- The king asks what her request is, and Esther invites the king and Haman to a feast.
- At the feast, the king asks what Esther’s request is once again, and Esther strategically invites them to another feast, which will be the next day.
- Haman goes home from the first feast happy, but he sees his enemy Mordecai, and that makes him mad. (You can see why Haman dislikes Mordecai in the previous blog post.)
- Haman goes home, invites some friends, brags a bunch, and complains about Mordecai.
- His wife and friends advise that he make a gallows to hang Mordecai on, and he does.
- That night, the king can’t sleep, so he asks his servants to read him “the book of memorable deeds.” They happen to read about Mordecai saving the king.
- The king asks how Mordecai has been honored for this, and his servants tell him that nothing has been done for him.
- So the king calls Haman in and asks, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” (Esther 6:6)
- The king is obviously referring to Mordecai, but Haman thinks the king is talking about him!
- Haman tells the king to do a bunch of extravagant stuff for this man, and then the king tells Haman to do this for Mordecai. Haman does it and goes home mourning.
Phew, that’s a lot! Let’s take a deeper look. Here are a few things I found intriguing. . .
Haman is Very Moody
This section of Esther showcases a lot of things getting flipped upside down. This includes Haman’s emotions. For example…
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. – Esther 5:9 (ESV)
Haman was happy because he got invited to an exclusive feast, prepared by Queen Esther herself. But then he saw Mordecai, the guy who refused to bow to him, and he got mad. Haman was a very prideful man.
Here’s another example:
Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “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.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. – Esther 5:14
That’s pretty sick, being happy with the thought of doing harm to another man. Then Haman had to parade Mordecai through the city. . .
Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. – Esther 6:12
We can learn a lot from not being like Haman. Romans 12:15 calls us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” but Haman obviously didn’t know that.
Haman’s Gallow for Mordecai
Haman got some bad advice from his wife and friends to build a gallow. He was planning to hang Mordecai on it the next morning. That didn’t go very well since he ended up parading Mordecai through the city. But did you know that later on in Esther, the roles in Haman’s plan to hang Mordecai were reversed?
Spoiler alert! Haman ended up being hung on the very same gallow he built for Mordecai.
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated. – Esther 7:9-10
Haman’s Conversation with the King
Haman’s conversation with the king in Esther 6 might just be my favorite part of the book of Esther.
The king is looking for a way to honor Mordecai. Haman is already in the court because he wants to ask the king to let him hang Mordecai. So the king calls him in to ask for his advice.
So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” – Esther 6:6
Out of his pride, Haman goes on to name a bunch of stuff in verses 7-9:
- Give this man royal robes that the king has worn.
- Let him ride on one of the king’s horses.
- Put a royal crown on his head.
- Have one of the king’s most noble officials dress him in the robes and crown, and lead him on the horse through the square of the city.
- The official will proclaim: “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
Haman wants all this to happen to him, but once again, the roles are reversed and he has to do it to Mordecai, his enemy. An excellent portrayal of Proverbs 29:23:
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
Don’t you love the irony??
God at Work When He’s Not Mentioned
The book of Esther never mentions God’s name, but it is clear He is at work. Here are a few examples:
#1: The king couldn’t get to sleep.
On that night the king could not sleep. . . – Esther 6:1
God is in control of every little detail, and He chose to protect Mordecai through something even as insignificant as this.
#2: His servants read about Mordecai in the “book of memorable deeds”
. . . And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. – Esther 6:1-2
Coincidence? I think not!
#3: Haman “happened” to be in the court.
And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. – Esther 6:4
The timing is perfect!
You can spot plenty of other places where God’s providence is at work, but I’ll stop there. But can’t you see what an amazing Author God is, even when He is never mentioned? He is always at work, humbling the proud, exalting the humble, and flipping everything upside down. And even when it doesn’t look like it, He’s looking out for His chosen people.
In case you would like to study Esther further or test your knowledge, here is a crossword puzzle I made for my Bible study I’ve been co-leading. 😉
Note: This crossword was created with a young audience in mind, and I edited it to be as clear as possible.
What do you think?
What do you think of the irony in Esther? Has there ever been a time that God humbled you when you were proud? Can you spot any other places God was at work in these two chapters?
Your observations of irony in Esther remind us of Isaiah 55:6-9 where God concludes these verses by telling us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. You did a great job of giving examples of this truth in Esther! Thank you!
Yes, that is a great passage! Glad to hear that—thank you for reading!
I quite agree with your choice–that scene in chapter 6 where Mordecai thinks the king is talking about himself and goes overboard is just too perfect an example of ‘pride cometh’.
The crossword was fun too–thanks for sharing! =)
Yes, I love that scene! =D
I’m glad to hear that! I made another for Esther 7-8, so I’ll have to share that sometime. 😉
The irony is great! I never really pieced that all together, I will never think about Esther the same!
Eliana the Writer
Yes, the irony is amazing! I’m glad this was insightful for you. =)
Eliana I enjoyed your insights on Esther 5&6. It is so amazing how God works to protect His people. I think it is important to remember that at the end of chapter 4; Esther asked Mordecai to have the all the Jews in Susa to fast and pray for 3 days. That is big time intercession.
We as a church often forget how important fasting and praying are in dealing in spiritual warfare.
The church is in that battle right now in our country.
Praise God! And yes, that is a great point! Taking the time to think things through and grow closer to God is crucial in times like these.