Book of Esther
Chapter 7 Part 12
July 15, 2012
Remember last week I said, “If he chose to, Mordecai could use his new-found favor with the king to destroy Haman. Zeresh knew that Haman’s fall was imminent. She thought in position. I don’t think even Zeresh realized how far Haman would fall.”
As we move on, the climax to this story is unfolding. God prepared Esther to make her request to the king with prayer and fasting. God prepared King Ahasuerus to answer her request by bringing to his memory all that Mordecai had done for him. And now, Haman, who wants the Jews dead, will face the consequences of his pride.
“So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen” (Esther 7:1). “So” indicates the narrative is continuing. Haman was sent for. “So” he and the king arrived at the banquet.
“And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom” (verse 2). Esther most likely had food on the table for the king, but mostly she fed the men wine. She wanted the king to soften toward her, and he did. Again, we see the hand of God at work for Esther. The king might easily have forgotten his previous promises to Esther and just enjoyed the banquet. But God kept it on the forefront of his mind and for the third time, the king asked Esther what he could do for her. “Ask me anything, Esther, and believe I’ll grant your desire even to half my kingdom. Just make your petition known to me.”
Does that sound familiar? Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive,” and Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Esther had reason to believe the king’s statement that he would give her anything she wanted. She knew he would not promise her something then not do it. She had faith in what Ahasuerus said to her.
What can we learn from this? We should practice that same faith in the Lord.
“Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:” (verse 3) Then Esther, laying on the dining couch, looked over to Ahasuerus and prefaced her request with humility. “IF I have found favor,” and “IF it please the king.” Esther’s only hope for saving her life, her dear cousin, Mordecai’s, life, and the lives of her people, was in the king. She didn’t assume anything. Once she knew she had the king’s full attention, Esther then made her request known to him. It must have surprised the king when Esther didn’t ask for land, houses, preference for herself or any of her workers, or money. It must have shocked him when Esther’s request was, “Let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” Can you imagine the look on the king’s face when he heard this? “Save your life? Save your people’s lives? Who are your people, why do they need saving? Why do you need saving?”
And Esther answered, “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage” (verse 4). Esther aligned herself with the Jews revealing that she also was one. Under Haman’s decree, that signed her warrant and she was free game for killing.
Esther here will use the very words found in Haman’s decree against the Jews to make her case against him. She mentions being sold which refers to the 10,000 talents of silver Haman was willing to pay for the Jews. John Gill said of the words, “destroyed” “slain” and “perish” that Esther, “Makes use of these several words, to express the utter destruction of her and her people, without any exception; not only the more to impress the king's mind with it, but she has respect to the precise words of the decree.” Remember, Israel was part of the Persian kingdom too. The death certificate would have been delivered even to the Jews there. When Esther uses the above three words, she is expressing the total devastation of an entire people. There was to be no remnant when they were done. But, God! He had a different outcome planned.
Esther made it clear that if Haman only wanted to sell the Jews as slaves, she would have kept quiet and not bothered Ahasuerus. But he wanted them dead, and Esther, would be among the corpses.
“…although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage” means that no matter what Haman paid into the king’s coffers, it would not make up for the loss the king would suffer if all the Jews were killed. They were an industrious people and paid a lot in taxes every year. If Haman got his way, this revenue would be lost with no way to replace it.
“Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” (Verse 5) Ahasuerus became angry. “Who is it that would think in his heart a plan to kill my queen and her people?” Ahasuerus wanted to know who to blame for such a nasty plan, not realizing yet that he was an accomplice to it. When he gave Haman his ring to seal the decree with, he signed his name to it.
“And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen” (verse 6). Esther didn’t hesitate to name the enemy of her people. She very straightforwardly pointed the finger at Haman making it clear to the king that Haman was the author of this evil.
We can learn a lot from Esther. 1. Don’t gossip. If you have a problem, go to the source and name it for what it is. 2. be specific about what’s going on. This applies to family, friends, and neighbors. 3. Even if your problem is with the church family, speak up about it. We are told not to point out someone else’s sin (judge), especially leaders in a church or speak of their evil behavior so as not to cause strife or hurt feelings. Jesus did not follow that plan, neither did His apostles. Even John the Baptist called Herod’s sin, sin in public. The reason Esther’s accusation was not questioned by the king is because she faced Haman directly to accuse him. If she had spoken to the king behind Haman’s back, it would have carried far less weight.
Going in to the Old Testament, Deborah basically called Barak a coward when he refused to lead the army into war. When God told him to take “ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun” and go to Mount Tabor to fight against Sisera and his army, Barak said, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” I love Deborah’s response. She said, “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman” (Judges 4:6-9).
“And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king” (verse 7). The king was smart. He knew it would serve no purpose to lash out in anger, so he walked away to cool down a bit. I believe Ahasuerus was as angry at himself for allowing Haman free reign to do as he wished as he was at Haman for taking advantage of his position of trust with the king. Ahasuerus had made an impulsive decision to allow Haman to wipe out a nation. Now, instead of compounding that mistake, he would ponder his course of action with Haman.
Haman quickly took advantage of the king’s time out. He ran to Esther to beg for his life. He knew by the look on the king’s face and his actions, that the king planned something “evil” (nasty) against him. In other words, the king was about to repay Haman for his betrayal of trust.
“Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king's mouth, they covered Haman's face” (verse 8). We can be sure Ahasuerus was still angry when he returned to Esther’s dining room. Can you imagine how hot his anger must have flashed to see Haman kneeling by the queen’s couch with his arms around her legs? (This was a custom in the east for people begging for their life to be saved.) It was Haman’s last hope for his life to continue on earth.
Isn’t irony in life funny? Just one day before Haman had the world on a string. He could go anywhere, do anything, and even command the entire Jewish people group be slaughtered to rid himself of his nemesis, Mordecai. Just one day later, this same proud, boastful man was bowing at the feet of a Jew begging for his very life.
When the king spoke, the servants who were tending to the banquet took a blanket and covered Haman’s face. Those in that day who were condemned to death had their face covered.
“And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon” (verse 9). Harbonah might have been one of the men who covered Haman’s face. He certainly was well informed. He knew both that Mordecai was responsible for saving the king’s life and that, because of his pride and vanity, Haman planned to hang Mordecai. He knew that Haman had a fifty foot gallows waiting for Mordecai in his own yard. So now, it wasn’t bad enough that Esther had spoken against Haman and that the king saw him touching the queen, and that Esther revealed Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews; Harbonah now revealed Haman’s plan to kill Mordecai himself.
“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified” (verse 10). The king pronounced Haman’s death sentence. The gallows in his yard where Mordecai would be hanged with much celebration now became the site of Haman’s own hanging. His family and friends that were to witness Mordecai’s death now instead were witness to Haman’s death. His pride and haughty behavior brought him all the way down just as his wife, Zeresh, had predicted. His death was a demonstration to all who saw him swinging. “How the mighty have fallen” (2 Samuel 1:25a). The king’s anger was appeased when Haman was gone. We’ll see next week what came next for Esther.