by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

I.         One of my favorite books in the Bible is the book of Esther.

            A.        It is not a very long book and it is very easy to read. Its story is so compelling that I will be looking for a passage in Esther and before I know it, I’m caught up into the plot and I end up finishing the book.

            B.        Esther centers around four main characters:

                        1.         Ahasuerus, the king of the Persian Empire.

                        2.         Esther, who was also called Hadassah, is a Jewish maiden, who becomes queen of Persia in part due to her great beauty.

                        3.         Mordecai is Esther’s elder cousin, who raised her from childhood after her parents had died. He becomes noticed by the king when he discovered and foiled a plot to kill the king.

                        4.         Haman, an up-and-coming man who was recently promoted to chief of all the king’s governors (or princes, as they were called).

II.        The Story of Haman

            A.        Esther 3:1-5

                        1.         Unlike all others, Mordecai refused to pay homage to Haman as he moved through the streets.

                        2.         When Haman sent men to find out why, Mordecai simply told them that it was because he was a Jew.

                                    a.         Perhaps it was because Mordecai saw the homage as too close to worship.

                                    b.         Perhaps it was because Mordecai knew the character of Haman and would not show respect that he did not feel - Pr. 12:8

                        3.         Haman became furious, but not just with Mordecai.

                                    a.         Mordecai said he would not bow because he was a Jew, therefore Haman reasoned that all Jews were trouble.

                                    b.         Haman then proceeded to wipe out all Jews from the Persian empire.

            B.        Esther 3:8-9

                        1.         Haman proposes a law to exterminate a rebellious people from the kingdom. He even offers to pay the expenses of those who remove the people.

                        2.         The king agrees, but tells Haman that he did not have to pay for the executions.

                        3.         Rather than being bothered with the details, he gives Haman his signet ring to use on the orders. It would be similar to signing a blank document. Haman was able to write anything he wanted.

                        4.         The order went out that 11 months from then (in the last month of the year), all Jews were to be killed.

            C.        Mordecai manages to tell Esther of the plot and pleads that she intervene on behalf of her people.

                        1.         However, Esther hesitates. The law did not allow for anyone, even the queen, to walk in before the king uninvited and it has been a month since she had last seen the king.

                        2.         But Mordecai gives a significant warning to Esther - Esther 4:13-14

                        3.         Esther relents. She will see the king, even if it means her life. As she prepares, she asks the Jews to fast and pray for three days, that the Lord may grant her success.

            D.        Esther did appear before the king and he accepts her appearance. He perceives she is troubled and offers her anything she desires, up to half his kingdom.

                        1.         Yet, all she asks is for the privilege of having the king and Haman over for a dinner

                        2.         At the dinner, he again asks what is troubling her and again offers anything, up to half his kingdom.

                        3.         Again, all she asks if for the king and Haman to come to dinner the next day and then she would tell the king what was troubling her.

            E.        Haman is on top of the world. Not only is he chief of the princes, but he had received not one, but two personal invitations to dinner by the queen of which only he and the king attended!

                        1.         But on his way out from the first dinner, he sees Mordecai at the gate - Esther 5:9-14

            F.        That night, the king had trouble sleeping, so he had the records of the kingdom read to him (perhaps he hope they would put him to sleep).

                        1.         The account of Mordecai’s saving the king was read and the king asked how Mordecai was rewarded.

                        2.         He was embarrassed to learn that nothing was done for Mordecai, so he sent for the first prince who could be found to help him plan a suitable reward.

                        3.         The prince just happened to be Haman, who was coming to seek permission to hang Mordecai on the gallows.

                        4.         Esther 6:6-10

            G.        How embarrassing! Instead of seeing Mordecai hang, Haman personally parades him through the streets!

            H.        He barely has time to recover before it is time for the banquet with the queen.

                        1.         Here Esther finally tells the king what is troubling her - Esther 7:3-6

                        2.         The king is so angry, he storms out into the palace gardens.

                        3.         Meanwhile, Haman, realizing that Esther held his life in her hands, stayed behind to plead with Esther.

                                    a.         He must have had too much to drink. In his pleading, he stumbles and falls on Esther, just as the king returns from the garden

                                    b.         Esther 7:8-10

            I.         Mordecai is promoted to replace Haman and Haman’s plot to kill the Jews is foiled.

                        1.         The Persians did not allow a law to be rescinded, but they could be added to.

                        2.         A law went out allowing the Jews to defend themselves without retribution.

                        3.         The Jews, of course, triumphed over their enemies.

III.       Lessons to be learned

            A.        Haman’s pride brought him low - Proverbs 29:23

                        1.         Pride goes before the fall

                        2.         In Mary’s song, perhaps she remembered this very story - Luke 1:51-52

            B.        Haman took offense where none was given. He sought vengeance for his imagined wrongs

                        1.         From the time children are young, there is the idea that if you hurt me, I’ll hurt you back.

                        2.         Rom 12:17 - Never return evil for evil

                        3.         I Peter 3:9 - Return blessings for evil done.

                        4.         The hardest thing is the stifle the desire for revenge - Leviticus 19:18

                        5.         When the King of Aramea wanted to capture Elisha, God struck the army with blindness - II Kings 6:18-23

                        6.         The disciples had to learn this lesson - Luke 9:51-56

            C.        Haman spread his hatred to those who were innocent

                        1.         God’s people have always been attacked

                        2.         Christian’s persecuted, as we learn in Revelation

                        3.         Ps 83:1-5, 13-18 - God will overcome.

            D.        Haman could not let his hatred go

                        1.         Proverbs 25:8-10

                                    a.         Some are so focused on harming their imagined enemies, they cannot see the harm they are doing to themselves.

                                    b.         Harm intended for others often backfires.

                                    c.         The advice is to settle it privately instead of bringing others into the problem.

                        2.         Ephesians 4:25-27

                                    a.         The longer we hold anger, masking it under lies, the longer we give Satan an opportunity to tempt us into sin.

IV.      The Lord knows how to keep his people - II Pet 2:9

            A.        All things will be manipulated to the good of God’s people - Rom. 8:28

            B.        II Tim 3:10-15 - Godly people will be persecuted. The wicked will get worse. However, we must remain faithful

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