And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. – Esther 5:9-14 ESV
The Proverbs of Solomon have a lot to say about pride:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18 ESV
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. – Proverbs 29:23 ESV
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2 ESV
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. – Proverbs 18:2 ESV
Even James quotes from Proverbs 3:34 when he writes, “But he [God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6 ESV).
Here in the story, we are given a photo-realistic image of what a prideful, haughty man looks like. Haman is the epitome of the arrogant, conceited, self-seeking and pride-filled man who lives for nothing more than the vain pursuit of prominence, power and possessions. Haman was a ladder-climbing, boss-flattering, limelight-seeking opportunist. He was in it for himself. He was obsessed with recognition and rewards, respect and his own reputation. He is the anti-Mordecai. Mordecai seems to remain behind the scenes, adopting his orphaned niece and raising her like his own daughter, discovering the plot against the king’s life and making it known – never expecting a reward for his efforts. But Haman is busy promoting himself and planning what he believes to be his well-deserved rise to fame and fortune.
When Haman left the feast given by Esther for he and the king alone, we are told he “went out that day joyful and glad of heart” (Esther 5:9 ESV). He was ecstatic, thrilled at having been the only one invited to this private party thrown by the queen herself. He was so elated that when he got home, he told his wife and friends all about it. “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king” (Esther 5:12 ESV). He even made it a point to brag to them, recounting “the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king” (Esther 5:11 ESV). This man was insufferable. He was nothing more than an egotistical, self-promoting, pretentious fool. But he was also dangerous because he was godless and wicked. He fits the profile of the wicked described in Psalm 10:
O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?
The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor.
Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.
For they brag about their evil desires;
they praise the greedy and curse the Lord.
The wicked are too proud to seek God.
They seem to think that God is dead.
Yet they succeed in everything they do.
They do not see your punishment awaiting them.
They sneer at all their enemies.
They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!
We will be free of trouble forever!” – Psalm 10:1-6 NLT
Haman walked out of the queen’s party on cloud nine, but he was quickly brought back to earth when Mordecai refused to bow down before him. One man’s refusal to acknowledge his obvious superiority was enough to throw him into an emotional tailspin. Even after he arrived home and recounted his amazing good fortune at having been the honored guest at the queen’s private banquet, he lamented, “Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate” (Esther 5:13 ESV). This statement, and Haman’s subsequent plot reveal the real issue. Mordecai was more than just a single individual who refused to honor Haman as his superior. He was a Jew and Haman was an Amalakite. These two people groups had a long track record filled with animosity and mutual hatred. Since the days when the Israelites were making their way to the promised land, the Amalakites proved to be their enemies. God even commanded King Saul, the very first king of the Jews, to completely wipe out the Amalakites, but he disobeyed. And since that day, the Amalakites had been a proverbial thorn in the side of the Jews. And now all that long-held tension was going to spill over as the result of a dispute between two men: Haman and Mordecai.
For Haman’s wife and friends, the solution was quite simple. All he had to do was kill Mordecai. Just eliminate the problem. And do it in a way that would send a signal to all the rest of the Jewish population in Susa. So they advised Haman to build a gallows, what was really more of a tall stake or spike on which the body of Mordecai would be hung for all to see. But it was essential that Haman waste no time. He needed to move quickly and build the gallows right away, before the party the next day. That way he could eliminate Mordecai and go feast with Esther and the king unperturbed by his arch-nemesis. And the passage simply tells us, “This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made” (Esther 5:14 ESV).
But this brings us back to Psalm 10. The psalmist writes:
Their helpless victims are crushed;
they fall beneath the strength of the wicked.
The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!
He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!” – Psalm 10:10-11 NLT
Haman believed he could do whatever he wanted to do. His arrogance was so great that he truly thought there would be no repercussions for his actions. He was greater than God. His wealth, power and prominence gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to do. But he was going to be proven sorely mistaken. God was watching. His eyes were not closed. He was seeing everything that was going on. And He was in full control. The wicked believe they can act with impunity. And, too often, the godly wrongly assume the wicked are right. Because that is how it appears. As the psalmist says, “they succeed in everything they do” (Psalm 10:5a NLT). But “They do not see your punishment awaiting them” (Psalm 10:5b NLT). Haman believed he was in control. He thought he had the power and authority to do whatever he wished. But he was wrong, and God was about to show him just how wrong he truly was. Haman was about to learn a painful lesson: “The Lord is king forever and ever!” (Psalm 10:16 NLT).