His wife Zeresh and all his friends told him, "Have them build a gallows fifty cubits high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go to the banquet with the king and enjoy yourself." The advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows constructed.
there bids us hold our breath awhile. We can scarcely go on to say, Who can know it?" for we find it manifestly set forth as known by One at all events, whose finger guides us to the observation of it, and whose pencil limns it. Certainly the present passage lays bare such a heart to the core of it, and at the core it is bad. It is of an aggravated type. It reveals a miserable creature on his own showing, judged by his own standard, and at the confession of his own lips. We have no difficulty in understanding the description which Haman gives of himself. But the difficulty would lie in crediting the phenomenon of any man, knowing his own symptoms so well, being ready to speak them so frankly, where they are what they are here. Let us notice -
I. SOME STRIKING AND DISCREDITABLE FACTS WHICH HAMAN'S OWN LANGUAGE REVEALS ABOUT HIMSELF. Haman finds himself in trouble. He analyses it himself, and unhesitatingly publishes the results And in doing so he shows these two things about himself: -
1. He can confess without penitence, without shame. In confession one would have hoped to find a favourable symptom. But it aggravates the case if what in ten thousand other instances would have been some redeeming feature, is none here. His confession proves that his trouble is of the smallest kind, and of the smallest quantity. He is exalted with honour, he is laden with wealth, he is closely surrounded with a profusion of earthly blessings. It is the very point of his own representation that he had touched the summit of success. But there was a humble man, no competitor whatever of his, low down on the rungs of the ladder, nor seeking to climb higher. He did not cross Haman's path, but Haman sometimes crossed his. This man, not for whim, nor to affront, but for his religion's sake, did not make the obeisance which the rest around were making to this rising or risen sun. Haman did not know the loss by feeling it. He did not know it till some one, who owned to the gift of not being able to do anything so well as mischief, informed him of the fact. And on this omission, recurring at a critical moment of Haman's glory, it is that Haman confesses to himself, to his wife, to his friends specially called together, that all his wealth, glory, promotion are "nothing" to him while Mordecai withholds his obeisance. This is the confession he makes without one expression of penitence, without one sign of shame.
2. He is content to have self-knowledge without realising any of the benefits that might accompany it. It is not every one who knows his nature's and his own disease so well. There are few who could speak the plague of their own heart so plainly. There was also, apparently, freedom from that form of deception which in things of high moment must ever be the worst - self-deception. Yet if we want to commend Haman for all this, it is impossible. We have to take away more with our left hand than we give with the right. He is not ignorant of self, yet he has no idea of improving self. He is not self-deceived, yet he is not awake to the enormity of his danger. He describes his own loathsome symptoms, yet loathes them not. He speaks them, to boast them.
II. THE TERRIFIC FORCES OF EVIL WHICH UNDERLAY THOSE FACTS.
1. Immoderate ambition. From the moment that his lip made the confession which it did make, Haman should have seemed to hear it as charging him to come down and "avoid ambition." His confession should have sounded the knell of ambition, since, if not, it were certain to sound another knell.
2. The intense worship of self. Haman must be all, and have all. He cannot let an obscure exile in the land have a thought, a liberty, a conscience, a will of his own. He cannot tolerate the slightest infringement of his own rights.
3. The rankling of unforgivingness. A forgiving spirit would have saved Haman all the destruction that was about to descend upon his head. No wound of any sort whatsoever has such a determined bias towards a fatal result as the wound received and not forgiven. Do whatsoever else you will for that wound, this undone it is almost certain that, if in itself not fatal, it will become so.
4. A greed that had grown with getting, an appetite that increased with feeding, and which was now rapacious as the grave. Haman had everything except one thing which he would never have missed unless he had been told of it. The whole day was bright but one moment of it, and then it was only overcast. The whole sky was fair and shining except one little touch of it. The whole prospect was glorious except for one duller spot. Life was a luxurious banquet, immensely to his taste, and there were no fingers of a hand writing dread things on the wall to spoil, but it was spoiled. Haman says it was utterly spoiled, profoundly unsatisfactory. One little diminution of dignity, one little drop of incense withheld, one little humble, harmless presence, fascinates him, as a basilisk would, nor releases him till he is lured to his ruin. "Dead flies cause the apothecaries' ointment to stink," says Solomon; and "the buzzing of an insect too near the ear may," says Pascal, "thwart a thought and put back a discovery fifty years; but who can defend the man who says, "I have millions of money, multitudes of titles, honour and glory beyond any one beside, 'yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."
1. In the larger, bolder, blacker portrait of Haman is there not some semblance of self, when, amid opportunities and advantages innumerable, comforts and joys innumerable, bright prospects and hopes innumerable, we put them all far from us just because everything conceivable is not to our mind.
2. We are prone to share the perverse nature of Haman when, as mere matter of fact, we overlook a thousand mercies we possess in favour of keenly noticing the absence of one withheld, like Eden's apple, or withdrawn after long enjoyment of it.
3. We are prone to share the unfruitful nature of Haman. No fact has come to be better ascertained in human life than this, that it is not those who have most who give most. The greatest opportunity often witnesses the least improvement of it. - B.
Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.).
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