The Intemperateness of Contempt
Esther 3:6
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai…

And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone. The projected deed of Haman, if it had been carried to completion, would not have been entirely without precedent and parallels more or less nearly resembling it. Herodotus, in the first book of his history, tells us of a massacre of the Scythians, actually carried into execution, and which preceded by about a hundred years that now proposed by Haman. When Darius Hystaspis ascended the throne, some forty years before the present date, a cruel slaughter of the Magi was ordered, and that slaughter was for a long period commemorated once a year. Five centuries onward bring us to that most memorable date of all, when, in one of the most heartless of massacres, Herod, king of Judaea, schemed to nip in the tender bud the career of the King of all the world, and to stifle in the thought the work of the Saviour of all men! And one can scarcely fail to associate with the present purpose of Haman the transactions of Black Bartholomew day (August 24, 1572), when, through the widespread and fair provinces of France, thousands upon thousands of Protestants were slaughtered! Deterrent though the subject of analysis is, let us consider that which is offered us in this passage.

I. IT IS AN UNDISPUTED CASE OF A MAN ANGRY. But there is probably a place for almost every kind, for almost every degree, of anger. "A fool's wrath is presently known," and a good man's wrath should be presently known. Anger and sin often go together, but by no means always; the criterion this - whether the anger is fed, has the poisonous force of rankling thought, of gloomy brooding in it; whether the sun is permitted to go down upon it, or it bidden to go down upon the down-going of the sun. If we stop here, our analysis conducts us no way, and is not sufficient to determine anything of value for us.

II. IT IS AN UNDISPUTED CASE OF RESENTMENT. But resentment is a natural and valuable principle. Analogies come in and conspire to speak in its defence and praise. Physically it is sometimes equivalent to a vital principle. But the physical value of it is the merest shadow of the amount and value of its spiritual use. With all the fullest force of which it is capable it may advantageously come, and welcome - in order to fling off some kind of assault, some sorts of arrows, some species of temptings. It is the prime glory of resentment in matters spiritual to be as like as possible to the red-hot iron when the drop of water falls upon it.

III. IT IS AN UNDISPUTED CASE OF REVENGE. This passes us at once over the border line. We are no longer on safe ground, nor even on debateable ground. We are trespassing on the property of One who gives us here no right of ownership, but who is as liberal as he is powerful, as wise as he is wealthy, as considerate as he is just. It is he who, if he ever spoke with an impressive emphasis in his tone, has so uttered this one sentence: "Vengeance is mine,! will repay, saith the Lord." Punishment, indeed, is not revenge; but how often does the most undisguised revenge dare to take the name and try to wear the look of the most impartial, temperate, judicial punishment! Perhaps Haman would scarcely feel it necessary to attempt to put this face on it, or to defend himself from an imputation to which he would attach neither guilt nor shame, provided that danger was not in the way. Yet it is manifest that Haman did put a very false face on what was the simple outcome of his own revengeful spirit when he was seeking the requisite powers from King Ahasuerus (ch. 4:8).

IV. IT IS AN UNDISPUTED CASE OF THAT PARTICULAR KIND OF ANNOYANCE CALLED AFFRONT. No appreciable harm had been done to the person, or to the business, or to the place, or to the prospects of Haman. Nor had he been injured in the least degree in the person of his wife, or of his family, or of any one clear to him. But affront had been offered him, or he supposed such was intended. That is, harm, though light and fanciful as any butterfly, had alighted upon the finery of his dignity, his vanity, his pride. The abrasion of the polish of self was indeed so slight, so marvellously inconspicuous, that he himself did not at all know it till those envious mischiefmakers, the "king's servants," told him,,

(ch, 3:4), in order, forsooth, "to see whether Mordecai's account of the reason of this infinitesimal deduction from the incense due to Haman (to whom indeed he owed none at all) would hold him absolved. An angry man, a revengeful man, a madman, a "bear robbed of her whelps." (Proverbs 17:12), "the lion out of the forest" (Jeremiah 5:6), are surely all safe company to meet compared with the vain man affronted. And this was the lot of Mordecai now.

V. IT IS AN INDISPUTABLE CASE OF THE INSATIABLENESS OF CERTAIN COMBINATIONS OF SINFUL ELEMENTS IN A CHARACTER. There is no bottom to pride, there is no height to haughtiness, there is no measure to swelling vanity, there is no temperateness to contempt, there is not "the bit or rein" that can be reckoned safe to hold in the uncertain, nettled temper of scorn and disdain. Approach any one of these with but the appearance of affront, though the reality may be your own principle and religion unfeigned, and there is no longer room for either explanation or even expiation. Revenge alone can meet the case. We have need to fear the first symptoms of such dispositions. They belong to the godless heart. They spread pestilence. They make the lives that own to them resemble volcanoes, which ever and anon throw up and spread all around the torrents of their destroying lava. Those who answer to this type so mournfully exhibited by Haman, miserable and uncertain themselves, are they who make misery all around. They "think scorn" to be patient; they "think scorn" to give to others the liberty they demand for themselves; they "think scorn" to ask or accept an explanation; they "think scorn" to credit any man's religion and conscience, except their own travesty of the genuine and true; they "think scorn" to show any kindness, or to make only a little misery. The heart of goodness, of justice, of mercy, nay, even the heart of reason, is cankered from within them. They must destroy all who in the slightest degree, real or apprehended, stand in their light, if only they can see their way to do it without present injury to themselves. And among all the worst foes a man can have, none can exceed this disposition, if it dwell in his heart. - B.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

WEB: But he scorned the thought of laying hands on Mordecai alone, for they had made known to him Mordecai's people. Therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even Mordecai's people.

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