After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him to a position above all the princes who were with him.
I. A SUDDEN ADVANCEMENT. In a short time Haman was placed above all the princes. The officials of the court were commanded to give him reverence and worship. There seemed to be nothing which the infatuated king was able to refuse him. A quick rise to power, and one that would be envied by many! In most hearts there is a strong craving for rapid success. But it is a mistake to suppose that sudden or easy success is a benefit. For observe -
1. Prosperity is better borne and enjoyed when it is the result of long and steady effort. It is a sweeter and more honourable possession when it comes as the reward of conscientious toil.
2. The self-denying labour which, as a rule, is necessary to prosperity is itself an incalculable benefit. It brings into healthy exercise the physical and mental endowments. It develops many manly qualities.
II. AN INORDINATE CRAVING FOR QUICK ADVANCEMENT HAS A BAD EFFECT ON THE HEART. Some who never realise their desire continue to cherish it even against hope until the end. This is a cruel thirst, which dries up all the springs of happiness and kindly good in the soul. It is an idolatry which hardens, withers, embitters, and which robs life of all that would make it noble and good and happy. Haste not to be rich. Haste not after any of the world's prizes. We should strive to preserve a worthy independence of mind and heart in connection with whatever end we may be working to achieve.
III. SUDDEN PROSPERITIES ARE OFTEN BADLY OR DOUBTFULLY GAINED. The rise of Haman was not the result of admirable personal qualities, or of important services rendered to the state. From what is recorded of him we are entitled to infer that the arts by which he won the king's favour were degrading both to himself and to the king. An atmosphere of suspicion gathers round all sudden and abnormal successes. They are not the rule amongst men who follow legitimate courses. It is a terrible folly to stake our all on anything the world can give. No wealth, or rank) or fame can compare with the treasure of God's friendship and love (Isaiah 33:6; Matthew 6:19-21). - D.
1. It shows in a lurid but striking manner the diabolical character of revenge. Pride is pride, and revenge is revenge in quality, although they only show themselves in words with little stings in them, and by insinuations that have no known ground of verity. If we do not make it our business to chastise our spirits and purify them from the seeds and shadows of these vices, in the forms in which they can assail us, can we be quite sure that if we were on the wider stage, and had the ampler opportunity, we should not be as this devilish Amalekite?
I. THE INSECURITY OF EARTHLY GREATNESS. The king in this story was exposed to the plot of Bigthan and Teresh. From it he was saved by the intervention of Mordecai, though by and by to fall beneath the assassin's blow. Great are the perils of the great. Their lives often, behind all the splendour that takes the public eye, a sad story.
After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman.Matthew Henry says: "I wonder what the king saw in man that was commendable or meritorious? It is plain that he was not a man of honour or justice, of any true courage or steady conduct, but proud and passionate and revengeful; yet he was promoted and caressed, and there was none as great as he. Princes' darlings are not always worthies."
I. THE WICKED MAN IN PROSPERITY. Haman is typical. He is the progenitor of a long line that by skilful plotting rise above the heads of superior men. In this world rewards are not rightly administered. Push and tact get the prize.
II. THE PROSPEROUS WICKED MAN IS SURROUNDED BY FAWNING SYCOPHANTS. "The king had so commanded." A king's commandment is not required to secure outward homage towards those in high places. Clothe a man with the outward marks of royal favour, and many are at once prepared to become his blind adulators. Imperialism is glorified in political, literary, and ecclesiastical spheres. Power in arms, push in business, skill in politics, success in literature, and parade in religion are the articles of the creed in which modern society believes.
III. THE PROSPEROUS WICKED MAN IS SURROUNDED BY MEDDLING SYCOPHANTS. Even admirers may be too officious. If Haman had known and seen all, he might have prayed, "Save me from my friends." The king's servants, in their selfish zeal, frustrated their own purposes of aggrandisement. How often in trying to grasp too much we lose all.
IV. THE PROSPEROUS WICKED MAN FINDS THAT FALSE, GREATNESS BRINGS TROUBLE. That greatness is false which is not the outcome of goodness. The course of wicked prosperity cannot run smooth. Haman meets with the checking and detecting Mordecai.
V. THE PROSPEROUS WICKED MAN MAY LEARN THAT AN UNRESTRAINED NATURE BRINGS TROUBLE. Haman was intoxicated with his greatness. He was full of wrath. Wrath is cruel both to the subject and the object.
VI. THE PROSPEROUS WICKED MAN UNWITTINGLY PLOTS HIS OWN DOWNFALL. Haman's wrath led him to dangerous extremes. Poor Haman! Already we see thee treading on a volcano. Thy hands are digging the pit into which thou shalt fall. Thy minions are preparing the gallows on which thou thyself shalt be hung. Learn —
1. Prosperity has its drawbacks.
2. "Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud."
3. That our greatest troubles often spring from our own depraved natures.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
II. THE DIVINE FORESIGHT OF AND PREPARATION FOR COMING EVIL. The plotters, Bigthan and Teresh, paid the penalty with their lives. But what had that plot to do with the great story of this book — Israel's deliverance from Haman? Much, for mark, the plot was detected by Mordecai. The news was conveyed to Esther, and by her to the king. Thus God's design for Israel's deliverance precedes Haman's design for Israel's destruction Oh! the Divine preparations! How God goes before us! Does Jacob look round upon famished Canaan? Lo! by the hand of long-lost Joseph, God has prepared for him a house in Egypt. Do we come into peril? Before we reach it God has been preparing for us a way of escape. His love is older than our sin — than all sin.
III. THE DIGNITY OF CONSCIENTIOUSNESS IN LITTLE THINGS. Mordecai would not bow to Haman. Not from disloyalty. He had stood by the king and saved him from the plotted death. Because — this is the reason he gave — because he was a Jew: and Haman, he knew, was the Jews' enemy. Others bowed — he could not. A little thing, do you say, to bow to Haman? but s little thing may have much effect on others, as this had on Haman — on ourselves; and, often repeated, is not little in its influence. He had conscience in this matter, and to defile it had not been a little harm. Conscience can appear in little things, but it deems nothing little that affects it, that expresses it. The early Christians would rather die than cast a few idolatrous grains of incense into the fire. Many an English martyr went to the prison and the stake rather than bow down to the wafer-god of Romanism. In little things, as some would deem them, we can take a stand for Christ.
IV. THE WICKEDNESS OF REVENGE. Had Haman a just grudge against Mordecai? Let him have the matter out with Mordecai alone? No; that will not suit him. He would punish a whole nation. The proud became the revengeful. If a man is humble and has a lowly estimate of himself, he will bear in silence the contempt and unkindness of men. But pride is easily wounded — sees slights often where none were intended. On a great platform we see, in the case of Haman, to what sin wounded pride will hurry a man. And to what a doom! We need to beware. Are none of us ever tempted harshly to judge a whole family because of the conduct of one of its members? to say, in the spirit of Haman, he is bad — the whole lot is bad? "Hath any wronged thee?" says Quarles, "be bravely revenged; slight it, and the work is begun; forgive it, and the work is finished."
V. THE PATIENCE OF FAITH. The king's life had been saved by Mordecai. But no honour had come to him for the service — no reward. And now an edict is out against him and his nation, dooming them all to death. And does he regret the stand that he has taken? Does he loudly complain of the king's ingratitude? He keeps silence. God will think on him for good. Oh, troubled one I oh, darkened life! oh, soul tempest-tossed, "only believe." The clouds will pass — will melt into the eternal blue!
(G. T. Coster.)
2. A lesson of personal independence. What meanness there is in this country in bowing down to rank! in letting some lordly title stand in the place of an argument! in seeking high patronage for good schemes, as men seek the shadow of broad trees on hot days! in running after royal carriages! in subservience to power, and adulation of wealth! Rise up, Mordecai, in thy Jewish grandeur, and shame us into manliness, and help us to stand a little more erect!
3. Finally, a lesson of patience and quietness to all the faithful. Obey conscience, honour the right, and then fear no evil. Is the storm brewing? It may break and carry much away, but it will not hurt you. A little reputation is not you. A little property is not you. Health even is not you, nor is life itself. The wildest storm that could blow would only cast you on the shores of eternal peace and safety. But more probably the storm may melt all away in a while and leave you in wonder at your own fears.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
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