Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.Esther 5:13
The story of Haman was one of immense and rapid success. He had climbed high till he was the greatest man in the Persian Empire next to the king. But his pride had been wounded by the neglect of a certain Jew named Mordecai to bow before him and do him reverence. He could easily crush the insolent Jew with one word, but the insult had so mortified his pride that he could not be content with merely punishing the culprit. He could only appease his fretful irritation and revengeful pride by superintending the erection of a high gallows. Mordecai was the black spot in his sunshine. Do we know enough of our own hearts to be able to make any modern interpretation and any personal application of the story? Is there no wounded pride that can be as bitter as Haman's though not on so large a stale?
I. Thus notice for our own learning that malice makes a man lose perspective. It magnifies the one petty thing, and blinds the eye to everything else. It is like the lust of curiosity, which makes the whole wide world open to inspection as of no account compared to the one hidden thing as in the Bluebeard type of story familiar from nursery days, in which every room of the spacious house is open, but there is one locked door, and nothing but that counts.
II. Further, notice how it leads to self-deception, even in the things where a wily worldly man like Haman would be supposed to be wideawake. If he had not scorned and hated Mordecai so much he would have found out something more about him, and would have found out that the queen's favour was his ruin and not his protection. Seneca's word has had many an illustration in history and experience. 'Anger is like rain: it breaks itself on what it falls.'
III. What can save us from it, guard us from giving way to it, rescue us from its deadly grip if it already has hold of us? No mere negative precaution can prevail much. At the centre of that circle whose circumference is the whole universe of God there stands a Cross. At the Cross we bow in penitence of self and pity of others. We cannot keep our malice there.
—H. Black, Edinburgh Sermons, p. 101.
References.—V. 13.—J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 150. Nicholson, Communion with Heaven, p. 242. V.—A. Raleigh, The Book of Esther, p. 106.
And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.
Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.
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.
Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.
Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;
If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.
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.
Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.
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 to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.
Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.