I. HASTE. Having seen the gallows prepared for Mordecai over-night, Haman was early astir next morning. He was in the court of the palace while the king was yet having the chronicles read to him, resolved to seize the first moment to get permission to hang the Jew. His plan of revenge was to be executed and done with long before the hour of the queen's banquet (Proverbs 1:16). "The children of this world are wiser," because more diligent, "in their generation than the children of light." If the self-denial and earnestness with which men pursue evil and worldly things were equally exhibited by all the righteous in pursuit of the things of Christ, the world itself would soon be brought to the feet of God.
II. COINCIDENCE. When the king wanted an adviser at that early hour, Haman happened to be in the court. The thoughts of both the king and his favourite happened to be occupied and excited by the same man. The haste of Haman to get Mordecai hanged happened to meet the haste of the king to get him rewarded. Faith can often discern the marks of a Divine providence in what men call accidents or coincidences. Belief in a living God is inconsistent with belief in any "fortuitous concourse."
III. ERROR. The question put by the king to Haman at once led him astray. Whose honour would the king delight to promote if not that of the man on whom he had already bestowed such unusual distinction? His vain heart betrayed him. How greedy is vanity. How selfish are the slaves of sin. The answer of Haman was shaped by his own desires. The honour he suggested would have been foolish and worthless as given to any other person than himself. But the only thing left for his ambition to aspire to was such a public and resplendent exhibition of the royal delight in him as that which he described. A man of evil does not easily suspect good feeling or good purpose in any associate. He projects himself into his judgment of others. Thus he is very liable to make mistakes. His whole life is a mistake - an error from beginning to end.
IV. DISAPPOINTMENT. When the king commanded Haman to do unto Mordecai every whit of what he had recommended, the blow that fell on the astonished favourite must have been heavy. That the man for whom he had made a gallows should receive the honour which he had proposed for himself! what a reversing of things. There are many disappointments and reverses which attract our entire sympathy, but we can only rejoice when the expectation of the wicked is cut short. It was a fit measure of justice that Haman should have proposed the honour which Mordecai was to wear. Judgment pursues the evil-doer. In the end all his hopes will be disappointed.
V. HUMILIATION. Haman had not only to see done, but to do, what the king commanded. He was the "one of the king's most noble princes" who had to array Mordecai in royal apparel, and place him on a horse, and lead him through the city, and proclaim before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour." And all this he did to the man whom he most hated, and for whom he had erected a gallows. It was a bitter humiliation, but there was no escape from it. Those who climb to worldly greatness by wrong ways have to eat much dirt. They sharpen the knife that will sooner or later enter their soul.
VI. EXALTATION. Mordecai yielded himself up to the king's mode of honouring him. He put himself in the hands of Haman, and went quietly through the whole process. It was a triumph that might be justly enjoyed, and one too that promised greater things. God was manifestly with his servant. Unseen influences were at work. The attempt to deliver Israel was prospering. This public honour would strengthen Esther, and have some effect on the king. The bad man who led the Jew's horse and proclaimed his favour with the king was declining in power, and the desired redemption of a devoted people was drawing near. Thus God encourages those who trust him. He makes their enemies serve them. Amidst much darkness and fear he causes his light to shine, and gives his servants bright indications of a coming victory.
VII. HUMILITY. A Haman would have been intoxicated by such an honour as was conferred on his enemy. To Mordecai the parade through the city was but an empty pageant, except in so far as it might contribute to his purpose of saving Israel. Hence we find him, after putting Off the royal robes, returning to his post at the king's gate. The passing honours of the world make no change in those who are weighted with the pursuit of honours which the world cannot give. Their chief desire is to be at their post and do the work given them by a higher than an earthly master - "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God" (Micah 6:8). It required no effort for Mordecai to descend from his momentary exaltation to his humble position as a palace servitor. His duty was in the king's gate. How blessed to be able to subordinate all merely personal or earthly things to the service of God.
VIII. OMENS. The result of that morning's proceedings was depressing to Haman. He retired to his home again to consult his wife and friends. How different his tale now from that which had inspired him and them the night before. The tall gallows in the courtyard was a gaunt mockery. The shame that had so unaccountably overtaken its lord laid a cold hand on the hearts of all his household. The fear of Israel, that strange people who trusted in a God of gods, entered strongly into their thoughts, and made their words ominous. The conviction was felt and expressed by them that if Mordecai were a Jew, Haman had already begun to fall, and that a disastrous end was inevitable. History affords many instances of the power of omens to destroy the happiness and hope of bad men. The silent workings of Divine providence have their effect on the wicked as well as on the good. In the one they inspire a fear which saps energy and skill; in the other they work a faith which gives strength and light. King Saul is not the only one whose heart and hand have been paralysed by superstitious fears arising from a rebellion against Divine rule. In the path of the wicked speetres of a holy and avenging power are ever rising up to throw blight on their aims and hopes. There is judgment even in this world. God reigns. - D.
There is nothing done for him.
(T. McCrie, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(A. M. Symington, B. A.)
(T. McEwan.)I. IT TEACHES US HOW WELL A GOOD MAN CAN AFFORD TO WAIT FOR THE DUE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS UPRIGHTNESS, AND FOR ANY REWARD HE MAY NEED FOR THE GOOD HE HAS DONE. The conjecture is that six long years had gone by since Mordecai revealed the plot of the chamberlains and saved the king's life, and not even a word of acknowledgment had come to him during all that time. But what we most admire is his behaviour meantime. If he had been a self-seeking man, he could easily have found means to refresh the king's memory as to his services; but he kept silence. If he had been a malignant man, he might have sought what he would, in that case, have called a just revenge for the ungrateful neglect with which he had been treated, by hatching or falling in with some other plot. And then, how well all turns out in the end! How much better than if the reward had been given at the time! "He that believeth shall not make haste"; God's time is always the best. Righteousness is its own reward, and we are never righteous as God would have us be until we feel this deeply and act accordingly. He who, in God's strength, looks every day on the face of duty, and walks with her along whatever paths her sacred feet may tread, has in his own spirit, in his own character, what soon or late will blossom out into all beauty and grandeur; what will in the end become "glory, honour, and immortality."
II. The next lesson is just the opposite of this, viz., "HOW CERTAINLY A BAD MAN MUST BE OVERTAKEN AND PUNISHED!" We say "how certainly" because there is in his badness the root and element of the retribution, and often, without knowing it, he carefully develops and ripens by his own action the retribution that falls on his head.
III. FOR THERE IS AN INCRESCENT POWER IN EVIL (as indeed there is also in good), IN VIEW OF WHICH WE CANNOT BE TOO WATCHFUL AND ANXIOUS, LEST BY ANY MEANS WE SHOULD FALL UNDER THE POWER OF IT. The power of it, remember, is very silent and gentle, generally, in its operations.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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