- Esther 5:1-10:3
Just as Esther said she would do, she went before King Xerxes without his request, on the third day. Xerxes was happy to see her and extended the golden scepter to her, sparing her life (recall that the penalty for approaching the Persian king without his request was death, unless he extended the scepter). No doubt Esther had been very nervous since her conversation with Mordecai three days earlier, as anyone would be. Xerxes asked what he could do for Esther, so she invited him and Haman to a private dinner with her that evening. Xerxes gladly agreed and sent for Haman right away.
At dinner, the king asked Esther once more what it was he could do for her and she asked him and Haman to join her once more the next night for dinner. There she would reveal her request to the king. Haman left that night feeling very good, partially because he had been drinking wine but primarily because he had been invited to a private dinner with the king and queen—twice! On the way out of the king's gate, however, Haman saw Mordecai sitting there. Mordecai neither respected nor feared Haman, so he didn't rise to greet him. Haman was furious but went on home.
At home Haman bragged to his wife and all his friends he'd called together how rich he was, that he had all these sons, and how he was favored by the king and queen to have been invited twice to a banquet with them. Then he explained his hatred of Mordecai, that Jew who neither feared nor showed him respect. Haman's wife Zeresh told him to have a huge gallows built and hang Mordecai prior to his banquet the next day. Then, she said, he'd be very happy at dinner with the king and queen. Haman liked the idea so he ordered the gallows built right away. The gallows was about 75 feet tall—that's about as high as a seven-story building!
That night Xerxes was unable to sleep, so he had the book of the chronicles of his reign read to him. It was read how Mordecai saved the king's life so he asked what had been done for Mordecai. The attendant responded that nothing had been done for him. The king then asked who was in the palace court at the time, and it just so happened that Haman was on his way to speak with Xerxes about hanging Mordecai. The king had Haman brought in, where he then asked Haman what should be done for the person the king desired to honor.
Haman thought the king was referring to honoring him, so he said:
7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”
(Esther 6:7-9 NIV)
The king thought this sounded great and ordered Haman to go do exactly as he had said, not for himself, but for......Mordecai!?! Haman certainly must have been astonished and angry. "Why would the king want to honor that Jew?" he must have thought. But the king had spoken, so Haman went and did exactly as Xerxes commanded.
That night at dinner, the king once again asked Esther what he could do for her, up to half of his kingdom.
3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. 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.” 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. (Esther 7:3-7 NIV)
So the king had Haman hanged on the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai. That same day, Esther had Mordecai brought into the presence of the king, and explained her relation to him. Xerxes gave Esther all of Haman's estate, and she appointed Mordecai in charge over it. Esther then wept before the king, pleading on behalf of her people the Jews. Xerxes ordered a new decree be written in the king's name. Mordecai wrote in the name of Xerxes, that the Jews could assemble and defend themselves against any enemies who planned to attack them on the appointed day Haman had selected. This news was carried throughout the Persian empire, even as far as Egypt.
When the day came, the Jews defeated anyone who attempted to attack them, and the total came to 500 men. The law was extended for the following day as well, at the request of Esther, and 75,000 enemies of the Jews were killed. Also, at Esther's request, Haman's 10 sons were hanged. After these things Mordecai became the second in control in the Persian empire underneath Xerxes. Mordecai wrote to the Jews everywhere and told them to make the two days where they defended themselves and defeated their enemies days of feasting and celebration each year. The Jews adopted this tradition and it became known as the Feast of Purim.
So many amazing lessons can be learned from these events surrounding Esther. Let's focus on three as we conclude this devotional and our look at the book of Esther:
- GOD is always watching over the nations and He is very involved even when He is silent or His name goes unmentioned.
- Sometimes we have to take risks to do the right thing. A wise person will pray for wisdom before deciding on a course of action and, once they've decided, they'll pray for a favorable outcome.
- Don't allow hatred, evil jealousy, envy, or pride to be a part of your life—you just might end up hanging from your own gallows as Haman did.