This 12-part series takes a new look at an old story and finds fresh words of courage, faith, and challenge for today’s Church. It is based on Carol Bechtel’s commentary on Esther in the Interpretation series (Westminster John Knox, 2002).
Haman Gets Indigestion
Read: Esther 5:9-14
“All this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” (v. 13, NRSV)
Some people are just impossible to please. Haman has just enjoyed a private dinner party with the royals and he has an invitation to a second. Yet, on his way home from the palace he encounters Mordecai, who “neither rose nor trembled before him” (v. 9).
When Haman complains to his fan club, they are ready with a helpful—if wicked—suggestion. “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made,” they suggest. “And in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” Yes indeed, there’s nothing like executing one’s enemy to whet one’s appetite…. (!)
Just when we think we’ve taken the measure of Haman’s megalomania, he surpasses himself. The gallows was to be as tall as a modern six story building. What’s more, Mordecai was already under a death sentence. All Haman had to do was wait.
But wickedness can’t wait. It is impatient and insatiable and wildly out of proportion. What a contrast Haman makes to Esther who not only waits for just the right moment, but willingly humbles herself, risking all for others.
Prayer: Help us to pattern ourselves after the one who “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8, NRSV).