Courage triumphs with truth and justice! — Esther 7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 19, 2013 AM
Esther had invited King Xerxes to bring Haman and attend a special banquet she had prepared. Haman’s status appeared to be secure. This new development seemed to reinforce his reputation. Haman must have thought only the king rivaled him in power and prestige. Haman’s morale had soared. Then, he encountered Mordecai, who “didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence” (v. 9). Mordecai remained seated. When Haman told his wife and friends what occurred, they advised him to build a gallows 75 feet high on which to hang Mordecai. He did so and that night Haman slept soundly, secure in his plans to bring about the demise of Mordecai and in his elevated status.
In contrast, King Xerxes was restless. Seeking reprieve from his insomnia, he requested his servants read to him from his chronicles; and was reminded how Mordecai had exposed a plot to assassinate him. Xerxes sought Haman’s counsel. Ironically, Haman thought he would receive the honor and greedily suggested the honoree be dressed in the king’s garment, placed on the king’s horse, and paraded through the king’s city while a member of the king’s court proclaimed the individual’s praises. Betrayed by his conceit and humiliated, Haman was forced personally to lead Mordecai throughout the city of Susa Haman was summoned to the queen’s second banquet before he could recover. There matters would only grow worse. In what transpires next, we discover that courage triumphs with truth and justice! Let’s discover how…
In the past several days, we have learned of the IRS being used as a means of intimidation; that the American people were lied to about what occurred in Libya and the murder of our Ambassador; and how the Administration tapped the phones and emails of the press without their knowledge. My father used to say, “You can always tell when a politician is lying, when their lips are moving.” Things sure have not changed much since Esther’s time, have they? However, we discover that…
I. The truth will set you free! (Vv. 1-6)
1. The writer noted the king was drinking. While the alcohol content of wine in the ancient world was much less, than in today’s wine, nonetheless intoxication was common. Alcohol causes the portion of the brain that determines appropriate conduct to function improperly. Hence, a self-absorbed and powerful individual like Xerxes might be uninhibited. Whether he wished to impress Esther with his greatness or to please her with his love is irrelevant. At that moment, he was willing to listen to any report she made and give her anything she asked. God had orchestrated the moment. The honor paid Mordecai earlier that day, indicated to Esther this was the right time to speak. So without hesitation Esther spoke, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.” Her request shows the courtesy typical of oriental protocol and it also links the queen’s request to the king’s promise. Esther is tacitly reminding the King that three times in two days Xerxes had promised to give her “even to half the kingdom.” What she said next must have stunned him, “For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” Haman must have realized the implications of Esther’s response! Esther revealed that she and all her people had been marked for death. She quotes from his edict but is careful in choosing her words. She avoided the origin of the edict, Xerxes’ rash promise to Haman, and focused instead on its consequences. Her words imply betrayal. The king had been deceived. The king is enraged. Any plot that involved killing his wife was a personal affront to the king. And he was angry over being duped. Since Esther had not yet mentioned the Jews, the king did not realize she was referring to Haman. So he asked the obvious question, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” Esther truthfully answers, “The adversary and enemy, is this vile Haman.” Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The truth will set you free!
EXAMPLE: “Just tell the truth,” my father would remind us, “and you will not be in as much trouble as if you lie to me.” Telling the truth was extremely important to my Dad. Henry David Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Imagine the difference it would make in our world if that theme were heard as often as those catchy and memorable advertising jingles. Truth is essential to all our interactions, from the halls of government, the classroom, the workplace, or the home. My father understood that truth-telling builds trust. It has been said, “If you tell a lie about one thing, it will be tough to believe you about anything.” God is truth and this is why He told His disciples, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV) Haman could not handle the truth, but Esther and Mordecai would quickly realize the truth will set you free!
David would correctly deduce, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalms 20:7 NIV) Haman learned too late to not trust in his own schemes. In fact, Haman’s scheme would be his death. Esther and Mordecai learn that…
II. Justice comes to those who trust in God! (Vv. 7-10)
1. The king becomes enraged, “left his wine and went out into the palace garden.” However, “Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.” Haman is true to his character to the end, he begs like the dog he is. His begging comes to no good because “Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’ As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.” This means as soon as the king spoke an angry word they covered Haman’s head, as a condemned man, not worthy any more either to see the king or to be seen by him; they marked him for execution. On learning of Haman’s treachery by “Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king”, the king commanded that Haman be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. While the height of the gallows (75 feet) may seem exaggerated, it was consistent with Haman’s vanity. Or it may imply the gallows were erected on a high hill. Either way, the gallows was certainly intended to show everyone in the community that Haman had destroyed the person who dared to humiliate him. Ironically, Haman would die on the gallows and the community would know the Lord had destroyed the person who dared to try to destroy His people. Xerxes had heard enough. He ordered the immediate execution of Haman. His death was poetic justice, dying on the gallows built for Mordecai’s death. An object Haman erected to show his power and prestige disclosed his absolute lack of both. This decision to put him to death alleviated the king’s personal anger. But it did not grant Esther’s request or desire. The edict to rid the empire of the Jews remained in effect. Yet, it proves that justice comes to those who trust in God!
EXAMPLE: David McCasland writes, “In our life of faith, our resources can become the enemy of trust. God wants us to depend on Him, not our own strength, whether physical, financial, or intellectual.” Haman absolutely trusted in himself, in what he could do, and in his wealth. There are those in our world that believe that their life should be built on trusting in education, in their wealth, or in their fame, but ultimately we need to realize God desires that we depend totally on Him alone. We cannot say we believe in God and trust in other things instead of Him. He calls it idolatry. Haman would learn too late that justice comes to those who trust in God!
The truth will set you free and justice comes to those who trust in God!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.