By Johnny O. Trail — Esther is a small book found in the Old Testament that many have read throughout the millennia. It is interesting to note that the word for “God” is not found in this ten-chapter book. While God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, one finds him providentially working in the lives of his people.
The book of Esther and the lives of the people mentioned therein illustrate some powerful biblical principles. Some of them are:
- Esther demonstrates how the prideful reason about themselves.
- God providentially works in the lives of those who are his people—in Esther’s age and ours too.
- Obedience is necessary to effectuate the salvation of God’s people.
- Hatred and racism are age-old problems that all generations of people have had to face.
- The prideful will fail whereas the humble will find refuge and protection in God’s care.
Haman was an arrogant, self-centered individual. Arrogant people sometimes place themselves on equal footing with God. Haman believed he was worthy of the same sort of respect as Jehovah God. Esther 3:1-2 says,
“After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that werein the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.”
Mordecai’s unwillingness to conform to the command of the king in this matter was the source of much angst in the life of Haman, and it would ultimately be his undoing.
In response to Mordecai’s noncompliance, Haman concocts a scheme to the undoing of Mordecai and the entire Jewish race. In his plans and hatred, Haman was an ancient forerunner of Hitler. Notice the scope of his anger towards one man.
“And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.” Esther 3:6
Notice also verse 13 of the same chapter.
“And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.”
Esther’s rise to power as queen was advantageous to thwart the purposes of Haman and save the Israelite people. Esther 4:13-14 says,
“Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
By the same token, people are added to God’s kingdom (the church, cf. Matt. 16.18-19) to accomplish great things in his service.
Moreover, the salvation of God’s people from Haman and his wicked purposes hinged upon Esther’s obedience to Mordecai’s words. Esther was obedient to Mordecai’s wishes regarding the revelation of her nationality. Esther 2:20 says, “Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.” If she had disobeyed Mordecai in this matter or any other, it is likely that many Jews would have been slain at the hands of Haman.
All of this ethnic cleansing was due to the burning hatred that Haman had for one man, Mordecai. This, along with other events in our own history, demonstrates how powerful hatred for a person or groups of people can potentially be. Psalm 25:19-21 says,
“Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”
Hatred is listed among other works of the flesh that war against the Spirit (Galatians 5.20). These facts should demonstrate that one needs to be careful about what he allows into his heart.
Arrogant people assume that they are worthy of every honor—even ones not intended for them. Esther 6:6 says,
“So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?”
Haman honestly believed that the king intended to honor him for some great accomplishment. In reality, the king wanted to honor Mordecai!
His anger for Mordecai must have intensified when he learned that the king wanted to honor his adversary for the good deed that he accomplished for the safety of the king. Esther 6:10-11 says,
“Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.”
Mordecai’s pride was about to make him fail miserably. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Humility is a wonderful quality in the life of any person. Only the humble person can acknowledge the need for God in his daily routines. Only the humble person can admit that God is the supplier of all his needs. 1 Peter 5:5b “…Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
Neither the decree of a king nor the anger of an arrogant man could sway the purpose of God in the preservation of his people. Esther was an instrument of deliverance in the hands of God. Mordecai prods her along in this process. Esther 4:14 says,
“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
In the end Haman and his sons would be executed on the very gallows that he had erected for his enemy, Mordecai. Esther 7:9-10 says,
“And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.”
The only person Haman could blame for his untimely demise was himself. His arrogance, pride, hatred, and bloodthirstiness placed him on the gallows he originally intended for Mordecai.
The absence of God’s name in the book of Esther does not mean he was not there. As one reads the ten chapters of this Old Testament book, it becomes plain that God is working providentially in the lives of his people. In the case of Esther, Mordecai, and all of the Israelites in the land, it was for their deliverance from certain death.
By the same token, God is present in our lives even if we do not physically see him. All we have to do is look at the manner in which he answers prayer and supplies our needs to see him working in our lives. James 5:16 says,
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”