On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.” – Esther 6:1-11 ESV
On the very same night that Haman is plotting to take the life of Mordecai, it just so happens that the king is struck with a bad case of insomnia. He can’t sleep, so he summons his servants to bring the book of memorable deeds, better known as the chronicles, in order that they might read it out loud to him. As one can well imagine, this official record would have been far from a riveting read, but the king’s intent was to have himself lulled to sleep. It just so happens that the section chosen to be read included the account of Mordecai’s exposure of the plot by Bigthana and Teresh against the king’s life. Curious, the king asks what had been done to reward Mordecai for his efforts, because the record was silent about it. When he is told that nothing had been done for Mordecai, he immediately decides to do something about it. Not one to make decisions like this on his own, the king demands to know who else is in the palace at this time of night.
This is where it gets interesting. It just so happens that Haman has arrived at the palace and we are told the reason behind his late-night visit to see the king. “Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him” (Esther 6:4 ESV). Haman knew he could not kill Mordecai without the king’s permission, and he was determined to have him hung that very night, so he had to risk all and attempt to see the king as soon as possible. His goal was to have Mordecai hanging on a stake long before Esther held her second feast that day.
And Haman was under the same restriction that Esther had faced. He could not simply walk into the king’s presence. He had to be summoned. And his attempt to see the king was complicated by the lateness of the night. But little did he know that the king was wide awake and looking for someone to talk to. So when Haman heard that the king wanted to see him, he must have been ecstatic and assumed that this was his lucky day. When he came into the king’s presence, the words he heard must have been like music to his ears. The king asks him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” (Esther 6:6 ESV). And in his pride and arrogance, Haman immediately assumes the king was talking about him. In his mind, he had just received a blank check from the king, so he wastes no time in describing an elaborate and over-the-top series of honors that reveal just how conceited and arrogant he really is. Notice that Haman has royal aspirations. He wants to be king. He recommends that the man whom the king wants to honor be given royal robes to wear that have been worn by the king himself. And that he be given a royal steed to ride that has been ridden by the king, and that bears the king’s crown. And to top it all off, Haman recommends that this honored individual be lead through the city by the members of the nobility. The king must have thought that this was a bit much for what Mordecai had done, but he went ahead and agreed to Haman’s recommendation.
Then Haman receives the most humiliating news of his pride-filled life. He is told that all his wild and extravagant recommendations were to be bestowed on none other than his arch-enemy, Mordecai. The king tells Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned” (Esther 6:10 ESV). What a shock the system this must have been. The very man he had been planning to execute was now going to be exalted, and he was going to have to make it happen. Rather than having the pleasure of watching Mordecai hung on a stake until dead, Haman was going to have to personally lead him through the city at the head of a royal procession, wrapped in royal robes and seated on one of the king’s own horses.
If one were to read this story without a God-centered perspective, it would be easy to write all of this off to bad luck or lousy karma. Haman was just an ill-fated individual who had bad timing and a meager supply of good fortune. But the book of Esther was written for the people of God, the Israelites. They would have read it with a strong sense of God’s presence and power permeating every single second of the narrative. While He is never mentioned in the book, He can be seen on every page of the story. But for the prideful and arrogant, the wicked and ungodly, God remains out of sight. Like Haman, the operate on the premise that there is no god. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4 ESV). King David’s assessment was, “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!” (Psalm 14:1 NLT). But even the godly can assume that God is either silent, blind, or oblivious to their situations. They can look at their circumstances and decide that God has abandoned them to their fate. Or they can read the book of Esther and be reminded that God is always there and that He cares. He never sleeps. He never slumbers. He never leaves anything up to fate. From sleepless kings to plotting Amalakites, God is in control. It was William Cowper who wrote the following words in 1774:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain