Esther Lesson 12: The Enemy of The Jews Is the Enemy of God
Chapter 7: 1-10
“So, the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!’ 3 Then Queen Esther answered and said, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. 4 For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.’
“5 So King Ahasuerus answered and said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?’ 6 And Esther said, ‘The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!’ So, Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king.
“8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, ‘Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?’ As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, ‘Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.’ Then the king said, ‘Hang him on it!’ 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.“
When we ended last week, Haman was having a bad day. He had been commanded to honor Mordecai, his hated adversary, and then he went home only to have his wife tell him that things will not go well for him. The walk or ride to this banquet must have been one of the longest and stressful journeys of his life, and it probably ended too soon. Haman then had to walk past or ride past Mordecai again as he entered the palace. In verse 12 of the previous chapter, we see that Mordecai went back to his position at the gate once the parade and festivities were over for his tribute for saving the king’s life. So Haman had to go past him to get into the meeting with the king and queen.
- Haman’s Last Supper verses 1-6
I hope that Queen Esther made something that Haman liked. We don’t know if she prepared the meal herself or had her helpers do it; nonetheless, the banquet was set, the two most important people in Persia were before her, and she was about to make her petition to the king. We get the impression from the reading that the king got to the point, but the Bible often skips the time and ‘small’ things for the big picture. They may have had a good meal, enjoyed some banter, and were maybe at the dessert stage before this conversation that we have here transpired.
Finally, the time comes to get to the point, and the king begins by once again confirming his love for Esther. He tells her that she can ask for anything, even half his kingdom, and he will grant it. This was not to be taken literally, but rather it is to be shown as a sign of his affection for her. This was the basis for Esther to plead, and God made sure that she was in the right place at the right time under the right circumstances to make a difference.
Esther made a personal request to the king and still did not reveal herself as a Jew. She was well taught by Mordecai, and even in this very stressful situation, she was very tactful and careful in how she framed her words and request. If you go back to Esther 3:8, Haman also hid the name of the people that he was targeting to kill on behalf of the king. I cannot imagine what Haman was feeling when he heard Esther and knew that she was a Jew, the king loved her, and he had petitioned the king to kill her. Wow! His day just went from bad to worse, and the prophecy from his wife in chapter 6:13 that he would not prevail against Mordecai must have been ringing in his ears like a gong.
In verse 4, Esther makes an amazing statement; she was well-spoken and understood the hand of God. The Jews had been in slavery for hundreds of years in Babylon, even after the liberation that began under Cyrus. When the initial invasion took place in Daniel 5, many of the Jews remained in Babylon and served the king of Persia. Many like Mordecai had attained great positions of leadership, but a large part were still slaves.
Esther was willing to accept slavery; she makes that clear in verse 4. ‘Had we been sold into slavery, the king would have suffered loss, but I could accept that.’ She points out that the Jews were very valuable to the king of Persia, and no amount of money could compensate for their value as people and servants. She could have lived as a slave, but the idea of death and annihilation was going too far, and this was the basis for her petition: ‘King, my husband, the one who loves me so much and is not ashamed even here to show it, please save my life.’
- The Wrath of a King, verse 5-7
Once the enemy, Haman, was revealed, we do not know who the king was madder at, Haman or himself. As much as Haman was the instigator, his evil plan could not have been carried out without the king’s help and authority. What we do know is that Haman was about to suffer the wrath of king Ahasuerus. In Proverbs 20:2, we find this verse,
“The wrath of a king is like the roaring of a lion; Whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own life.”
Well, make no mistake, Ahasuerus had been provoked to anger, and he was about to set this right for the woman he loved, which means that Haman was about to forfeit his life. There is another verse that will show what was about to happen; one was about to suffer the king’s wrath and one the king’s favor. See Proverbs 19:12,
“The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, But his favor is like dew on the grass.”
Haman was about to meet the roaring lion, and Esther was going to enjoy the dew on the grass. We are not familiar with this kind of power in many cases today. Most of our political leaders cannot order the death of citizens without a trial and court case. But in this time, the king had the power of life and death in his hand and mouth. Jesus will have this kind of power and rule when He returns. He will have absolute power and reign in perfect judgment. There will not be any court of appeals in Jesus’ reign; His word will be final and His judgments perfect.
Poor Haman was now in a position where he was the hunted and not the hunter. He was the endangered and not the endangerer. It is amazing how he was now going to plead for mercy to the queen when he was working to kill the Jews just a few days ago. This man was not going to go gracefully into that good night. He was going to go kicking and screaming. The king returns from contemplating his anger and position to find Haman in the process of pleading to the queen for mercy, the mercy he was not willing to extend to others.
The Bible tells us that those who show mercy will be shown mercy. Haman was not a merciful man, and his family members were not merciful people. Recall that it was his wife who suggested they build the gallows. She would live to regret that. However, Haman was found sprawled across the queen’s couch and near her; this was not allowed. This was the king’s wife, and no man who was not a eunuch was allowed near her. The very angry king walks in on what appears to be an assault on the queen by the man who has schemed to kill her and her people. It is not until chapter 8 that the Jewishness of the Queen is revealed. In Jewish writing, they claim that Gabriel the Archangel pushed Haman so that he fell into the queen.
- The Gallows, verse 7-10
This year I have made the commitment to read the book of Proverbs all year, and there are some great verses that one comes across. In Proverbs 26:27, we find this verse,
“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.”
Well, Haman did not dig a pit; he built the gallows. You may recall from a previous lesson that we explained that the gallows were not like we see in the great Western movies with a platform and a noose. These gallows were large spiked pieces of wood that stood up 50 cubits, about 75 feet into the air. These were visible from the palace. One of the king’s servants, a man named Harbonah, could see the gallows from the palace and suggested they be put to good use to execute Haman, even though he points out that they were made for Mordecai.
Haman had probably imagined watching Mordecai on this pole; he had planned it in his head and maybe even dreamed of it, but never in a million years did he picture himself on it. They took Haman and put him on the gallows for all to see. This was a gruesome death, and it could take a very long time to die. This spike would have traveled slowly up into the body as one wiggled on it, writhing in pain, eventually reaching the brain stem and killing you. The noise of death would have been heard everywhere and would have instilled fear in the minds of all who saw it.
The king’s wrath was appeased, and the enemy of the Jews was dead or dying. But there was still work to be done. Esther was saved, Mordecai would be okay in the king’s court, but the Jewish people in the 127 provinces of Persia were still in grave danger. This had to be dealt with; it was not enough that Esther was safe. ALL of the Jews had to be rescued as well.
We will get to that in the next chapter, but I want to draw a parallel from this to our lives today. There are many of us people who have been saved by Jesus. We have heard the Gospel and placed our faith in Him only for salvation and the washing away of our sin debt to God. Like Esther, we are saved from death, but unlike Esther, we do not make the news known to others. We are not telling others that Jesus will save them as well. Esther could have reveled in her safety and not cared about the rest of the Jews. But this could not be; Mordecai had instilled in her a sense of responsibility, and she had taken that even at the risk of her life. We need to take responsibility for the people around us that need Jesus and take the offer of salvation to them.
We, the children of the Lord God, have mortal enemies on earth. The most notable enemy is Satan, and he fights against us all the time. But in his service are many humans like Haman who hate the people of God and long to eradicate them. We are seeing this hatred more and more from some of our political leaders in both the US and Canada. There are laws being passed to limit speech, and there are laws being passed to make some of the Bible illegal to teach and preach. This puts us in the crosshairs of Satan’s minions, and soon we, like Esther and Mordecai, will find ourselves in grave danger. God will be our defense, and those that attack us are attacking God.
There is a possibility that we will be hurt and even killed for the name and cause of Jesus Christ. But God may send an Esther and a Mordecai to help us. We need to be faithful to Him in either situation. The apostle put it this way to remind us we are in a battle all the time: Ephesians 6: 10-13,
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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