So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.
Our first impulse on reading these words is to praise Ahasuerus for his faithful administration of justice; for if ever a man deserved summary vengeance at the hands of the law, it was Haman. But a little reflection must correct our judgment. The whole transaction reveals the fickle, passionate, unscrupulous disposition of the tyrant. Without any apparent reason, or at least without any regard to his merits, he had made a special favourite of Haman, and had lavished upon him all the honours at his command; and now, in a fit of uncontrollable rage, he hurries him, without any pretence of a trial, to a felon's death. Flatterers are the most unreliable of men. Those who lick the dust at your feet in prosperity are the most likely to tread upon your neck in adversity. There is but one step between "Hosanna to the Son of David," and "Away with him! crucify him!" The king's servants, who vied with each other in their obsequiousness to Haman while he enjoyed their master's favour, were now so eager to execute him that they could scarcely wait for the sentence. The text is in many respects one of the most striking in the whole Bible, and is fraught with weighty and permanent lessons. Note -
I. THE TERRIBLE CONSUMMATION OF A WICKED CAREER. It sometimes happens that the ungodly flourish in the world to such an extent that our faith in eternal righteousness is staggered. We could point to men whose road to power was paved with injustice, treachery, and bloodshed. Many an upright heart, crushed for its very uprightness, has poured forth, in contemplating such men, the despairing complaint of the Psalmist, "Verily! have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." But a careful observation of facts would doubtless show that even in this world excessive wickedness frequently brings about its own requital. Pharaoh perished in the Red Sea; the dogs licked the blood of Ahab in Samaria; Herod was eaten of worms upon his throne. There are circumstances about the case of Haman which separate it from all others, but in its essential features it is but one among thousands. Three elements in Haman's character may be mentioned which, while they contributed to his temporary success, led to his final ruin.
1. Boundless ambition.
2. Boundless pride.
3. Boundless cruelty.
II. THE IGNOMINIOUS EXTINCTION OF AN INFAMOUS RACE. Some think that Haman was an Amalekite; and we are told that the Amalekites, for their hostility to the Israelites, had been singled out for retribution. The Lord said to Moses, "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." The threat was not carried out at once; for ages the footsteps of justice seemed to linger, and the delay had only intensified their malignity. But here the last of the race dies upon the gallows, for after this they disappear altogether from history. Piety runs in families, and so does wickedness. God's blessing rests upon families, and so does his curse. This is not due to haphazard, caprice, or favouritism; but there is always a definite cause for it. Think of the Stuarts of England, and the Bourbons of France. By trampling upon the rights of the people, and seeking self-aggrandisement at the expense of righteousness, they sinned no less against Heaven than against humanity. But, as if pursued by an inexorable fate, they were hurled from the summit of power to the ignoble obscurity which they so richly deserved. Let us beware of committing "presumptuous sins," lest they should taint our families, and doom them as well as ourselves to eternal disgrace.
III. THE SIGNAL DEFEAT OF A HEARTLESS PURPOSE. The incident before us is one of those incidents which cannot be accounted for except on the supposition of an overruling Providence. We perceive cunning baffled, crime punished, impiousness abashed in such a wonderful way, that to attribute the whole affair to mere chance would be the height of folly.
1. Haman was degraded just when he thought of reaching the goal of his ambition. The highest dignities of the kingdom, next to those enjoyed by the king, were his already. His vanity, his love of authority, his fondness for display had nothing to desire. And now the only annoyance that disturbed him was about to be removed Ñ the people which he hated was about to be annihilated - and he was about to become absolute master of the situation. Henceforth he would be admired, courted, envied by all the world. But, alas, it was not to be. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." Haman had left that counsel out of his calculation; hence, when he thought of attaining the climax of honour, he was plunged into the abyss of shame. Prosperity is the worst thing that can happen to the wicked man. Adversity may mellow his heart, and produce reflection, repentance, and reformation; but a course of unbroken triumph only hardens his heart, and hastens the inevitable catastrophe. "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
2. Haman perished on the very gallows that he had erected for another. This was probably the bitterest ingredient in his cup of woe. Imagine his chagrin, his confusion, his despair, when he found that the huge instrument of death which he had set up at such great expense to punish his unbending antagonist was to be employed for no other purpose than his own execution! And who knows but that Mordecai himself was among the crowd who witnessed the scene? There was an awful fitness about the punishment. After-ages have with one consent pronounced it just. No utterance commends itself to universal approval with greater force than this: "Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein; and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him." We are reminded here that as virtue is its own reward, so sin is its own punishment, Haman died on a gallows of his own construction; so shall every impenitent sinner perish through his own waywardness. "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee." - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.