Return from Exile: Esther 1-5 (3)
Pray Psalm 12.6, 7.
The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
Sing Psalm 12.6, 7.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.
Read and meditate on Esther 3.1-6.
1. What did Mordecai refuse to do?
2. How did Haman react?
We saw in Ezra 5 how the people in Jerusalem responded to the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah and resumed building the temple, contrary to the decree of Artaxerxes—Ahasuerus. Here we see that same spirit of resolution to obey God and not men in Mordecai’s refusal to pay homage to Haman.
Haman had been advanced to a powerful role in the empire, and he expected everyone to acknowledge his greatness. All the king’s servants “bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him” (vv. 1, 2). Well, not all: “But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage” (v. 2).
Mordecai knew that bowing and paying homage were appropriate only toward God. He was not going to violate God’s Law just to keep in good standing with the powers-that-be. Mordecai was not one to go-along-to-get-along. He was God’s man in a king’s court. He would not transgress the Law of God, so that meant he would have to transgress the law of the king (v. 3).
Naturally, word of his refusal reached Haman (v. 4). Haman must have thought he would look petty and self-serving by laying hands on Mordecai alone. So he concocted a grander scheme to destroy all the Jews in the empire, and Mordecai along with them (vv. 5, 6).
Haman was elevated to a high, high perch in the ruling tree of Medo-Persia. But in his narcissism and pride, he began scooting on the limb by taking aim at Mordecai and the people of God. But God was waiting for him, saw in hand.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In his newly acquired royal free-time, Haman should have taken an afternoon to read the Proverbs of Solomon. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble and avoided an early surprise death.
“A good man obtains favor from the LORD,
but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn” (Prov. 12.2).
“…a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame” (Prov. 13.5).
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14.12).
“The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom” (Prov. 16.4).
“Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty…” (Prov. 18.12).
“The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice” (Prov. 21.7)
“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD” (Prov. 21.30).
“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him” (Prov. 26.27).
“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand” (Prov. 12.7).
To pore over God’s Word would have been beneficial for Haman; maybe even life-changing.
He is merely one more character in this story who “preferred not to do it”.
Haman was chronically mean and ill-informed, and the antithesis of wise.
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Prov. 12.1).
As our kids would have screamed, “Solomon said stupid!” Anyway, Haman was very foolish.
But I wonder:
How many of us prefer not to read God’s wisdom, like Haman?
Do we believe there is much to be learned about daily living in God’s book?
Do we understand that truly knowing Jesus is as important as Simon Peter did?
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6.68).
Like Mordecai, we must obey God, and say, as Daniel’s friends said to Nebuchadnezzar:
“…let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan. 3.18). But we cannot do this on our own. We must be filled with the enabling and empowering Holy Spirit of God. As Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.7).
Haman desperately needed God’s wisdom. I daily need it. Everyone does.
“If I am tempted to stray from seeking and following Your word, Lord, help me to remember Haman’s drastic downfall.” As Solomon said, “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge” (Prov. 19.25).
1. How can we guard against letting our ego get the best of us?
2. Do you ever have to make a choice between pleasing God and pleasing men? How can you make sure to make the right choice?
3. Whom will you encourage today to stay faithful to the Lord, come what may?
The true believer cannot obey edicts, or conform to fashions, which break the law of God. He must obey God rather than man, and leave the consequences to him. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Esther 3.1-6
Pray Psalm 12.1-5.
Pray that God will give you grace and courage to live for Him and obey His Word, even in the face of opposition or mocking. Commit your day and all your activities to the Lord.
Sing Psalm 12.1-5.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.
Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.
T. M. and Susie Moore
Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.