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HAMAN’S THREE STRUGGLES
Victor M. Eskew
Character studies are some of the best studies in the Word of God. Characters are real people revealed to us on the pages of the Bible. Some of these individuals were very strong. Some were very weak. Some were godly. Others were ungodly. Some brings tears of joy to our eyes. Some cause tears of sadness to run down our cheeks. If we study enough of these characters, we eventually come face to face with ourselves. Yes, these individuals reflect the same positive and negative qualities we possess. They reflect the same victories and failures that each of us experience. Yes, Bible characters allow each of us to see “me” in the mirror of God’s Word.
The book of Esther revolves around five principle characters: Ahasuerus, Vashti, Haman, Mordecai, and Esther. The villain in the account of Esther is Haman. He is introduced first in Esther 3:1. “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.” The name “Haman” means “magnificent.” This man was a descendant of a king of the Amalekites named Agag. It was he who was wrongly spared by Saul when he was sent to destroy this enemy nation of God’s people. Samuel the prophet, however, hewed him into pieces when he was brought into his presence. Haman was promoted to a very high rank in the Persian government. It seems that he was second only to the king himself.
Haman had three major struggles in his life. These struggles involved major heart issues. The first struggle presented in the book of Esther involves Haman’s anger. After Haman was promoted, the king gave a command concerning him. All “the king’s servants that were in gate” were to bow and reverence Haman (Esth. 3:2). One Jew, however refused to comply. “But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence” (Esth. 3:2). When Haman was told about Mordecai’s defiance of the king’s command, he focused on Mordecai’s actions. “And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath” (Esth. 3:5). The wise writer of Proverbs tells us that “wrath is cruel” (Prov. 27:4). This was certainly the case in the life of Haman. Knowing that Haman was a Jew, Haman’s wrath drove him to seek the annihilation of every Jew in the kingdom of Persia. He was successful in obtaining the decree from the king. “And the letters were sent by the posts into all the kings 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” (Esth. 3:13). It is hard for us to imagine that much anger in the heart a man. He allowed one Jew to stir him up so much that he plotted to kill an entire nation of people.
The second struggle Haman faced in his life involved pride. It began with his promotion. He yearned for the attention, praise, and reverence of the masses because of his lofty position. In chapter 5, another event transpired that boosted Haman’s ego. He was invited to a banquet by the queen. In fact, only he and the king were the guests of Esther. The invitation is recorded in Esther 5:4. “And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.” What an honor! When Haman left the banquet hall, he went forth “joyful and with a glad heart” (Esth. 5:9). When he got home that day, “he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife” (Esth. 5:10). He could not contain himself. He had to boast to them about all of the good fortune that had come into his life. “And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king” (Esth. 5:11-12).
Some might argue that Haman had not manifested pride up to this point. Sharing his good fortune with family and friends is something to be expected. The next chapter, however, reveals the true extent of his pride. The night between the two banquets held by Esther, the king learned that a man had save his life from the hands of two of his chamberlains. He also learned this man had not been rewarded for his loyalty. Haman was asked what should be done for this man. “And the king said unto him, what shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself” (Esth. 6:6). Haman asked no questions regarding the man to be honored. He just immediately assumed that there was no one more worthy than himself whom the king would delight to honor. His pride swelled within him, and he suggested a premium reward. The only position above Haman was that of the king. The reward he suggested involved being paraded through the streets of the city as if the one honored were royalty. The king’s attire, the king’s horse, and the king’s royal crown were all part of the display.
Pride is not a beautiful garment. It lifts a man up in his own eyes. It causes one to believe things about oneself that are not true. It causes a man to treat others with contempt. It causes one to desire things that are not his to possess. It is not surprising that it is one of the seven things that God hates in Proverb 6:16-19. In fact, it tops the list. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look…” The Bible warns that if a man persists in his pride, it will bring him to ruin. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
The third struggle that was manifested in Haman’s heart was hatred. Let’s go back to the day when Haman left the first banquet of the queen. It was said that he left joyful and with a glad heart. We, however, did not complete that verse. Here is the entire verse: “Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai” (Esth. 5:9). Haman was not just angry with Mordecai. He hated him. This hatred filled his heart to such an extent that he could not enjoy any of the good things that were in his life. He told his wife and friends: “Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Modecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate” (Esth. 5:13). When a plan to have Mordecai hung on the gallows was presented to him, he was pleased; “and he caused the gallows to be made” (Esth. 5:14). The wise sage was right: “The bloodthirsty hate the upright…” (Prov. 29:10).
Anger, pride, and hatred filled Haman’s heart. These things put him on a road to ruin. His death sentence came at the second feast prepared by Esther. It was at that feast Esther exposed the plot of Haman to have all the Jews killed. If this plan was successful, it meant that Esther would be put to death as well. Esther told the king: “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish” (Esth. 7:4). The king immediately wanted to know who it was who presumed to do such a thing. “And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman” (Esth. 7:6). It wasn’t long until Haman was taken into custody. One of the chamberlains of the king suggested that he be hung upon the gallows prepared for Mordecai. “Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (Esth. 7:9-10). It is a sad end to the life of a human being. Too, it seems like a fitting end to a man full of anger, pride, and hate.
There are many people in the world who struggle with one or all of the issues Haman faced in life. Anger fills their hearts toward others. Pride lifts them up to heights of danger. And, hatred consumes them to such an extent that they cannot truly enjoy the blessings of life. Dear readers, those who struggle with these things cannot truly experience happiness in this life. Their anger, pride, and hatred are the center points of their lives. They poison their souls to such an extent that it becomes rotten. Then end of these individuals ultimately is death. Not only are such individuals at war with themselves; they are also at odds with God. In many places in the Scriptures, God reveals that such individuals will be brought down by the Almighty (Oba. 3-4). If you are dealing with one or all of these sins, we exhort you to repent and put them to death. Those who hold on to them shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).