The Second Banquet And The Amalekite’s End
It is hardly to be supposed that the remarkable happenings of the forenoon had all taken place without Esther’s knowledge. We know that she was in daily communication, through her chamberlains, with her aged cousin; and there can scarcely be any question as to her having been made familiar with his sudden elevation to the imperial favor. This would account for the lack of hesitancy and the implicit confidence with which she prefers her request when “the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen” (ver. 1).
The feast was not yet concluded when the king said, “What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom?” (ver. 2). It is the same invitation to ask largely with the same assurance, as on the previous occasion, that all shall be given. “In the word of a king there is power.” How much more to be relied on is the word of “God that cannot lie,” who has said, “Everyone that asketh, receiveth;” and who invites implicit confidence, on the part of His own blood-washed and redeemed saints, in His faithful promises.
“Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage” (vers. 3, 4). Knowing that her lord’s favor is toward her, she pleads both her own cause, and her people’s. She petitions him to spare their and her life.
How surprised must the king have been to hear her so speak. Who would dare seek the life of his beloved queen? And who could her people be who were thus placed in jeopardy of their lives? It is to be remembered that Esther’s kindred had not yet been made known to the king. He was in ignorance of the fact that she was a Jewess.
Her words must have deeply agitated the already toppling son of Hammedatha. Was there not even a designed coincidence on her part between the decree drawn up by Haman and the queen’s words as she said, “We are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish?” How could he forget that such had been the language he had caused the king’s scribes to write? What an appalling discovery to learn that he had included the wife of Ahasuerus in his bold scheme of blood-shed and revenge! How earnestly he would listen for the king’s reply.
“Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” (ver. 5). He at once makes her enemy his; and demands the name of the infamous wretch who could dare conceive so fearful a plot. The guilty conspirator reclines but a few feet from him. His sin is to find him out at last!
“And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen” (ver. 6). He is manifested now in his true character. The fawning and politic courtier appears as the deep-dyed villain whose perfidy is almost too great to be believed. Satan has again been foiled in his attempt to destroy the line of promise, and God has once more vindicated His Word.
It is easy to cherish a feeling of contempt and disgust for so low and vile character as Haman. But it is well to remember, that in every man’s heart is found the same evil thing, which when brought to its full fruition, appears so abominable in the ungodly Agagite. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” and God asks the question, “Who can know it?” He solemnly answers Himself: “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). It is “out of the heart,” says the Lord Jesus that all kinds of evil things proceed, and He names “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false-witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). “These are the things which defile a man,” He adds; and we desire affectionately to remind the reader, lest any should be in danger of forgetting it, that it is the grace of God alone which makes one man to differ from another.
No amount of education or culture, nay, nor self-restraint or religiousness, will eradicate the evil. It is the nature that is wholly and utterly corrupt and pernicious. Therefore before one can please God there must be a new nature imparted, and this is the result of new birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Nothing but this second birth, through receiving the word of God, will avail to place any natural man on a different footing before the throne of the Majesty on high, than that occupied by the Hamans, the Pharaohs, and the Herods of the Bible. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
People often consider it a mark of superior virtue to be shocked and horrified by the crimes of others whom they imagine to be worse than themselves. It is well to realize that the worst acts of the worst men all spring from a nature identical with that of all other sons and daughters of Adam. It is because of this humbling fact our Lord had to tell a religious doctor that “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” and again, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Is my reader certain that he or she is the subject of this great change? Have you truly turned to the Lord for yourself, and from the heart believed the gospel-message which declares that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners?” If not, I beseech you, read no further, but stop right here and consider, until you have, as a guiltly, helpless sinner, cast yourself unreservedly upon that blessed One, “who died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
If truly a Christian, turn with us once more to our narrative. The poor discovered wretch trembles before the king and the queen; as some day men will tremble before the Omnipotent Judge when all their secret guilt shall be made known before an assembled universe and it will be too late to seek a hiding-place.
It would seem that Ahasuerus is dazed for the moment, as he begins to realize what Haman had obtained his royal consent for. He is, in a very grave sense, a party to the proposed indiscriminate slaughter of the Hebrews, which would include his beloved spouse. We are told that “the king arising from the banquet of wine went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king” (ver. 7). The man who without a twinge of remorse could devote a nation to destruction, is in dire distress at the thought of himself losing life or liberty. He takes the place of suppliant at the feet of the now triumphant Esther, cousin to the unbending old man he had led through the streets in the morning. One is reminded of the word to Philadelphia, “I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Revelation 3:9, last clause).
In his desperation Haman oversteps the bounds of both court etiquette and ordinary decency, by throwing himself upon the divan where the queen was reclining. At this juncture “the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed where Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the words went out of the king’s mouth they covered Haman’s face” (ver. 8). His very importunity, unwise in the extreme, is the means of his complete undoing. At a signal from the outraged monarch his face is covered-token of his condemnation to death. Hope is gone. He shall never see the king’s face again; nor shall he be troubled by Mordecai’s uplifted form evermore. “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:6). The ungodly may now be supreme, while to the righteous “waters of a full cup” are wrung out; “but the triumphing of the wicked is short.” God is still the moral Governor of the world, to whom all men must give an account. He will manifest His power eventually when “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mai. 4:1). This passage has no ref- erence to judgment after death. It is not the unsaved dead being cast into the lake of fire. It refers solely and simply to God’s judgments which will be meted out to the oppressors of His people at the end of this age. Of this Haman’s case gives us a hint.
The chamberlains, quick to discern the mind of the king, waste no sympathy on the fallen premier. “Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold, also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon” (ver. 9). So certain had the now friendless wretch been in the morning of his having no difficulty about getting the king’s permission to hang the refractory Jew, that he appears to have made no secret of his intention. It is evident that Harbonah was quite familiar with it, and as it is very unlikely that such information had been vouchsafed after the procession through the street in the forenoon, it would seem that Haman had but added to his own discomfiture by explaining the purpose of his early visit to some of the chamberlains before being summoned to the royal presence. The attendant mentions now the fact of the gallows having been erected, and the reason for it. Mordecai would have been strung up there had not Providence interfered. The king, hearing of it utters but three words, “Hang him thereon,” and the Amalekite’s doom is sealed.
It is not the only time in Scripture history that in God’s governmental dealings such a thing has occurred. Daniel furnishes us with a similar instance. Saved himself by Almighty power from the lion’s jaws, his accusers are cast into the den and destroyed. David wrote of the wicked; “Behold he travaileth with iniquity and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalms 7:14-16). So shall it be with the personal Antichrist, “the Jews’ enemy” of the future, of whom Haman, if not a type, is at least an illustration. At the moment when his power shall seem to be supreme, and all hope for deliverance for the Remnant of Israel, who in that dark day shall cleave to the Lord, will have practically fled away, the warrior of the 19th of Revelation shall descend and hurl the impious usurper alive into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.
“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified” (ver. 10). The sentence, as soon as uttered, is carried out. Haman is hanged as one “accursed of God.” Thus “the righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead” (Proverbs 11:8). “Riches profit not in the day of wrath;” His wealth and power availed him nothing. In one moment all is manifested as being altogether lighter than vanity. He has gone out into eternity naked and alone; and as a later revelation tells us, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). That stark, cold body suspended to the gallows preaches loudly, to all who will give heed, of the evanescent character of all earth’s baubles, and the importance of living for eternity.
“I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found” (Psalms 37:35, 36).
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Esther 7". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Easter