In his fury, the king arose from drinking his wine and went to the palace garden, while Haman stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life, for he realized the king was planning a terrible fate for him.
1. The reckless character of his own dealings with an innocent and captive people.
2. His complicity in the designs of a murderous and greedy wretch.
I. THERE ARE MOMENTS WHICH COME TO US AT DIFFERENT PERIODS WHICH FLASH LIKE THOSE IN THE PALACE GARDEN. We have had some problem to work out; or we have been going through a series of circumstances, the end of which we could not comprehend, when at one point all becomes clear. We are like men on board a vessel when the fog lifts and shows them to be near, unexpectedly, to some well-known headland. Or we have "tracked" through a dense forest, and have come to its edge at last, when a wide view opens out before us. These moments come to the youth when a friend or parent dies; or when he first finds out how faithless is some professed friend. Or they come when, later in life, we listen to some searching sermon; or when affliction falls upon us. To some they come most unexpectedly, when engaged in ordinary affairs. The Holy Spirit uses such moments. Paul knew what such moments meant when, outside Damascus, the light flashed from heaven, and he saw himself in his real state.
II. IT IS WELL TO TAKE TIME FOR MEDITATION AFTER ANY SUDDEN REVELATION. When angry we should pause. He that ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city. On the meditation of a few moments how much may depend. Here it was the deposition and execution of a prime minister, and the salvation of a whole nation. - H.
I. THE EVIL-DOER RECEIVES WARNING. "Haman saw that there was evil determined against him by the king." He clearly heard the sound of the avenging deity though his feet might be shod with wool. Evil-doers receive warning. Nature gives warning. Revelation gives warning. History gives warning.
And the king, arising from the banquet.
1. It was a train of very trifling circumstances in each particular. There has been no event in the whole succession in itself of a remarkable or unusual character.
2. It was a very circuitous and remote process. The first step we have seen was very far off from the final result, and could not have been imagined to have any connection with it. Every succeeding step seemed equally independent and unlikely to produce the end designed. A wonderful plan was lately proposed for connecting New York and Brooklyn by a bridge, the foundation of which should be in the park. Who that saw men digging and laying stone in the middle of the park, with no knowledge of the plan proposed, could have imagined that it was the starting of a bridge over water so far distant, and to a shore so entirely out of sight? Yet such has been the course of this providence which we have considered. Stop at any point, and the connection is just as hidden, and the calculation of the future remains just as difficult. "Known only unto God are all His works from the beginning." We may stand and ask, Why should the king have selected Esther at the very time of Haman's elevation? Yet every step is sure and leading forward to the result designed. Nothing is lost, and no error is committed upon the road. This is the wonderful skill of Divine providence. The wheels are full of eyes on every side.
3. It was a perfectly unexpected result. Haman had gone through his whole preliminary course with entire success. But how suddenly and wonderfully was he disappointed.
4. God overturns this whole scheme of wickedness without appearing directly to interfere with it in any step of the proceeding. The whole plan wrought out its own result as naturally as the seed of spring brings forth the summer's plant and the autumn's fruit. The sinner was entrapped in his own devices. The sinner was deluded, by his prosperity, to suppose the race was for the swift and the battle to the strong. And yet the whole scheme was overturned in a moment, without one violent interruption occurring in its process. This is a most important lesson to us. It must teach us never to doubt the constant presence of God in all our concerns, and His directing power over all events involved in them. A change of wind may turn the dreaded flame from our habitation, a sudden lull may break the force of the tempest, the very means of apparent death may be made the real instrument of security and protection. And all this may be with no remarkable interference of special Divine power. Thus remarkable in the simplicity of its arrangement, as well as in the perfection of its result, was this whole process of the Divine overthrow of the crafty wickedness of Haman. He was caught in the very pride of his power. Haman was made the instrument of exalting the very adversary he so much hated. The very sorrow which he had prepared for his victim he was himself required to endure. Dr. Mason of New York, describes a remarkable scene of which he was an unexpected witness. A butcher in this city, in his rage with his aged father who had offended him, knocked him down upon the floor, and was dragging him by his hair to throw him into the street. He had pulled him to the outer door, when the old man cried out, "There, stop now, I did not drag him any further," and then confessed that he had abused his own father in the same manner, and dragged him to that very spot, with the same design. Such instances, in some shape, are constantly occurring, so that it is a familiar expectation that the wicked shall fall into the pit they have digged for others, and they who take the sword perish by the sword. The result of this whole providence was complete deliverance and exaltation to the oppressed, and complete destruction to the oppressor. This was the final result, and an illustration of that which will always be, and at last surely be, the final result. God will exalt those whom man oppresses.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
I. THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH RETRIBUTION COMES. The harvest is garnered: how shall the grain reach the seaboard? Along iron rails laid down by man. The rice-fields are gleaned: how shall the product be conveyed to its destination? Through canals cut by man's agency. The fruits of malice, of cruelty, of ambition, and of tyranny are perfected: how shall they be delivered to him for whom they are designed? Through agencies he himself has prepared — by some human hand to which a higher power has consigned them. Retribution though prepared in heaven, in coming to earth traverses the road which man has made ready for it. The lightning-bolt, though forged in the clouds, may make as it comes to earth a pathway of the tree planted by human hands. Haman's wickedness is so conspicuous that the shafts of retributive justice are certain to strike him, miss whom else they may. Oppression and heartlessness, cherished hatred and the spirit of revenge, are towering upward to such heights that their summits are hidden in clouds already black with fury. The particular person commissioned of Heaven to mete out retributive justice to Haman was Ahasuerus. This is in accordance with God's usual method of dealing. Though bearing the seal of the invisible kingdom, retribution comes through some agency with which we are familiar. The king showed good judgment in the earlier stages of his anger. "In his wrath he went into the palace garden." Anger which speedily vents itself in harsh words is less harmful to its object than that which is repressed till a settled purpose is formed. Fear the man who can so far control his resentment as to be able to exercise good judgment in deciding upon measures which noiselessly bring the results of deeds home to their author. The steam which is generated so speedily as to cause a violent explosion might have proved sufficient, if properly controlled, to convey a long train, freighted with the enginery of death, to some advantageous position whence every missile would have told with deadly effect upon the enemy.
II. A FRUITLESS PLEA FOR DELIVERANCE. Haman stood up to make request for his life. Verily no man can tell what awaits him! A few days, a few hours, may suffice to cloud the most brilliant prospects. The question, What new requisition is possible? may be suddenly converted into the anxious inquiry, Can I save anything from the common wreck, even life itself? Haman's prayer, though importunate, was fruitier. The arrival of retribution chronicles the departure of mercy. In the presence of the king even the queen is powerless to rescue the culprit. He is now before the judge whose will is Esther's law. At the day of final adjudication it will no doubt be evident that mercy is powerless to rescue those who have incurred "the wrath of the Lamb." When mercy is driven to assume an attitude of vengeance, hope is for ever extinguished.
III. THE SIGNS OF COMING DOOM. Haman's sinful career must be checked, or the queen must perish. Wickedness unchecked would ultimately extinguish goodness. Thistles and grass cannot continuously occupy the same soil, nor is it doubtful which would gain the mastery. "As the word went out of the king's mouth they covered Haman's face." Guilt is left to bear the penalty alone. Alas, the heartlessness of those who are comrades in iniquity! No ingratitude surpasses that of those who have been associated in wickedness. To be deserted in the critical hour is the fate of those who have violated Divine commands. "So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai." He is snared in his own devices. The arrow he directed at another has rebounded, causing his own death. The cannon which, loaded to the muzzle, was to annihilate his enemy, has recoiled, crushing him beneath its ponderous wheels. "As Haman brewed, so he drank." "He made his bed, and he lay in it." Cruelty displayed can have but one issue — cruelty endured. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
(J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)
II. THE FOOLISH EVIL-DOER WORKS HIS OWN DESTRUCTION. The very means Haman took to save his life was the means of bringing about his speedy execution.
III. THE EVIL-DOER RAISES STRIKING EVIDENCE OF HIS OWN GUILT. "Behold the gallows fifty feet high," etc.
IV. THE EVIL-DOER IS PRACTICALLY HIS OWN EXECUTIONER. "So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai."
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
1. God lays up in store for His future use Esther's unexpected relation to the king. It was a fearful trial of Mordecai's faith and Esther's piety. It seemed an unaccountable and dark proceeding. Their broken hearts both grieved in bitterness over the dispensation. But God was mercifully preparing for the evil to come. The hold which was allowed upon the affections, and the influence which was thus exercised upon the character of Ahasuerus, were very important in the train of results which was to be brought out.
2. God prepared a special obligation from the king to Mordecai. "Two of the king's chamberlains, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus," etc.
3. God interposed in the settling of Haman's lot. "They cast the lot from day to day, and from month to month to the twelfth month." This was a very peculiar interposition. It gave nearly a year's delay to the executing of the plan.
4. God gave great ease and apparent prosperity to Haman's plan. The king granted his request at once, and gave him unlimited power to fulfil his purpose. Thus Haman was enticed forward to Perfect security. His success was so flattering to his own power that it led him to an immediate publication of his whole scheme. "There was written according to all that Haman commanded, to the governors that were over every province," etc.
5. God endowed Esther with singular wisdom in arranging her scheme of argument and defence.
6. God awakens the slumbers of the king. "On that night the king could not sleep." What trifling incidents does God employ to accomplish His great results! You will sometimes hear of His providence as if it were only concerned in what men call great events; but there are no distinctions of great and little in human events before God. Never be deluded by any false schemes of men. Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without the notice of your heavenly Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
7. God remarkably employs the waking king. "The king could not sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king., This was a singular step. He might as readily have called for any other book.
8. God furnished the very agent desired for the accomplishment of His plan. "And the king's servants said unto him, Behold Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in." Every step appears to be propitious to Haman. He enters instantly, perfectly secure of the triumphant attainment of his purpose. But God had now perfectly prepared the way for Mordecai's exaltation, and Haman, who had planned his death, must be the instrument of his honour. "God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work." There is providence, and this was its course thus far. Every step is natural, voluntary, trifling in itself. No single step had any apparent earthly connection with the others, in the mind of the one who took it. The threads all seemed perfectly separate and unconnected. But it was a single hand which wove them all. How perfect is the scheme! How indispensable is every part! How clear the wisdom which has ordered the whole! With what confidence we may rely on such a Protector. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. His eyes are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
For he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
Will he force the queen also before me in
(T. McCrie, D. D.)
And Harbonah, one of the king's chamber-laths, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(A. M. Symington, B. A.)
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)1. Oh, how great are the vicissitudes of life! When Haman thought himself secure, then he was nearest to his ruin.
2. How sudden and astonishing the change that takes place in the feelings of those about the court. Yesterday, everybody envied Haman for his prosperity, but hated him for his insolence. Yesterday, they bowed the knee, and did him homage, but now that they see he has fallen, they are just as hearty in their rejoicings at his downfall. If Haman be going down, they all cry, "Down with him!" And as Mordecai is now the favourite, all are ready to exalt him. The old Louis, dead in Versailles, may rot or bury himself, while the courtier and countesses are making fair weather with the rising sun.
3. Haman pleading at Esther's feet is a proof that "the heathen are sent down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken." The Jews' enemy, and the adversary of the Hebrew orphan, a suppliant at the queen's feet, illustrates how God regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, and scattered the proud in their imagination.
4. Another lesson learned from Haman's gallows, perhaps, better than from any other standpoint of this history, is to beware of the first risings of evil passions.
5. We see again that human prosperity is wholly unavailing in the hour of calamity. The glory of Haman yesterday only enhances his disgrace to-day.
6. It is then an unfair, limited, and partial view of providence to say that God's favours are not wisely and equitably distributed among men. The purposes of God are not to be judged of by the events of a moment, nor by the occurrences that are near together. The chain of providence has many links; some are so high, and some are so far away, that at present we cannot see them, nor can we judge correctly of it till we see the whole chain together.
7. You must learn to discriminate between real and apparent happiness.
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)Haman: — In the character of Haman there is a singular exhibition of ambition and envy. He was a man without benevolence, justice, or mercy. From the one external act in respect to Mordecai, we infer the fearful depth of depravity within. It does not appear but that his character might have been without reproach previous to his promotion. Exemplary conduct, however, previous to an open act of sin, must not be taken as a proof of purity of character at any time, for the external sots of sin may be compared to the eruptions of a volcano, which sometimes occur only after intervals embracing centuries, while the internal depravity is like those pent fires which lie couched beneath the base of the mountain, where in secret the lava wave is in perpetual motion. From the life and death of Haman learn —
1. That the wicked man cannot go unpunished.
2. That the wicked man will be punished when he least expects it.
3. That the wicked man will be punished by means of his own devising.
(O. T. Lanphear, D. D.)
I. THAT WHEN THE HEART IS WRONG THINGS VERY INSIGNIFICANT WILL DESTROY OUR COMFORT. Who would have thought that a great prime minister, admired and applauded by millions of Persians, would have been so nettled and harassed by anything trivial? The silence of Mordecai at the gate was louder than the braying of trumpets in the palace. Thus shall it always be if the heart is not right. Circumstances the most trivial will disturb the spirit. It is not the great calamities of life that create the most worriment. I have seen men, felled by repeated blows of misfortune, arising from the dust, never desponding. But the most of the disquiet which men suffer is from insignificant causes; as a lion attacked by some beast of prey turns easily around and slays him, yet runs roaring through the forests at the alighting on his brawny neck of a few insects. You meet some great loss in business with comparative composure; but you can think of petty trickeries inflicted upon you, which arouse all your capacity for wrath, and remain in your heart an unbearable annoyance. If you look back upon your life you will find that the most of the vexations and disturbances of spirit which you felt were produced by circumstances that were not worthy of notice. If you want to be happy you must not care for trifles. Do not be too minute in your inspection of the treatment you receive from others. Who cares whether Mordecai bows when you pass or stands erect and stiff as a cedar? That woodman would not make much clearing in the forest who should stop to bind up every little bruise and scratch he received in the thicket; nor will that man accomplish much for the world or the Church who is too watchful and appreciative of petty annoyances.
II. Again, I learn from the life of this man THAT WORLDLY VANITY AND SIN ARE VERY ANXIOUS TO HAVE PIETY BOW BEFORE THEM. Haman was a fair emblem of entire worldliness, and Mordecai the representative of unflinching godliness. When, therefore, proud Haman attempted to compel a homage which was not felt, he only did what the world ever since has tried to do, when it would force our holy religion in any way to yield to its dictates. Paul might have retained the favour of his rulers and escaped martyrdom if he had only been willing to mix up his Christian faith with a few errors. His unbending Christian character was taken as an insult. Faggot and rack and halter in all ages have been only the different ways in which the world has demanded obeisance. Why was it that the Platonic philosophers of early times, as well as Toland, Spinoza, and Bolingbroke of later days, were so madly opposed to Christianity? Certainly not because it favoured immoralities, or arrested civilisation, or dwarfed the intellect. The genuine reason, whether admitted or not, was because the religion of Christ paid no respect to their intellectual vanities. Blount, and Boyle, and the host of infidels hatched out during the reign of Charles II., could not keep their patience, because, as they passed along, there were sitting in the gate of the church Christian men who would not bend an inch in respect to their philosophies. Reason, scornful of God's Word, may foam and strut with the proud wrath of a Haman, and attempt to compel the homage of the good, but in the presence of men and angels it shall be confounded. When science began to make its brilliant discoveries there were great facts brought to light that seemed to overthrow the truth of the Bible. The archaeologist with his crowbar, and the geologist with his hammer, and the chemist with his batteries, charged upon the Bible. Thus it was that the discoveries of science seemed to give temporary victory against God and the Bible, and for awhile the Church acted as if she were on a retreat; but when all the opposers of God and truth had joined in the pursuit, and were sure of the field, Christ gave the signal to His Church, and, turning, they drove back their foes in shame. There was found to be no antagonism between nature and revelation. The universe and the Bible were found to be the work of the same hand, strokes of the same pen, their authorship the same God.
III. Again, learn THAT PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL. Was any man ever so far up as Haman, who tumbled so far down? Yes, on a smaller scale every day the world sees the same thing. Against their very advantages men trip into destruction. When God humbles proud men, it is usually at the moment of their greatest arrogancy. If there be a man in your community greatly puffed up with worldly success, you have but to stand a little while and you will see him come down. You say, "I wonder that God allows that man to go on riding over others' heads and making great assumptions of power." There is no wonder about it. Haman has not yet got to the top. The arrows from the Almighty's quiver are apt to strike a man when on the wing.
IV. Again, this Oriental tale reminds us THAT WRONGS WE PREPARE FOR OTHERS RETURN UPON OURSELVES. The gallows that Haman built for Mordecai became the prime minister's strangulation. Robespierre, who sent so many to the guillotine, had his own head chopped off by the horrid instrument. The evil you practise on others will recoil upon your own pate. Slanders come home. Oppressions and cruelties come home. When Charles I., who had destroyed Stratford, was about to be beheaded, he said, "I basely ratified an unjust sentence, and the similar injustice I am now to undergo is a sensible retribution for the punishment I inflicted on an innocent man." Haman's gallows came a little late, but it came. Opportunities fly in a straight line, and just touch us as they pass from eternity to eternity; but the wrongs we do others fly in a circle, and however the circle may widen out, they are sure to come back to the point from which they started. They are guns that kick! Furthermore, let the story of Haman teach us how quickly turns the wheel of fortune. So we go up, and so we come down. You seldom find any man twenty years in the same circumstances. Of those who, in political life, twenty years ago were the most prominent, how few remain in con. spicuity! Of those who were long ago successful in the accumulation of property, how few have not met with reverses! while many of those who then were straitened in circumstances now hold the bonds and the bank-keys of the nation. Of all fickle things in the world, Fortune is the most fickle. Every day she changes her mind, and woe to the man who puts any confidence in what she promises or proposes! She cheers when you go up, and she laughs when you come down.
V. Again, this Haman's history shows us THAT OUTWARD POSSESSIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CANNOT MAKE A MAN HAPPY. There are to-day more aching sorrows under crowns of royalty than under the ragged caps of the houseless. Much of the world's affluence and gaiety is only misery in colours. Many a woman seated in the street at her apple-stand is happier than the great bankers. The mountains of worldly honour are covered with perpetual snow. Tamerlanc conquered half the world, but could not subdue his own fears. Ahab goes to bed sick because Naboth will not sell him his vineyard. The soul's happiness is too large a craft to sail up the stream of worldly pleasure. As ship-carpenters say, it draws too much water. This earth is a bubble, and it will burst. This life is a vision, and it will soon pass away. Time! It is only a ripple, and it breaketh against the throne of judgment. Mordecai will only have to wait for his day of triumph. It took all the preceding trials to make a proper background for his after successes. The scaffold built for him makes all the more imposing and picturesque the horse into whose long white mane he twisted his fingers at the mounting. You want at least two misfortunes, hard as flint, to strike fire. Heavy and long-continued snows in winter are signs of good crops next summer. So many have yielded wonderful harvests of benevolence and energy because they were for a long while snowed under. We must have a good many hard falls before we learn to walk straight. It is on the black anvil of trouble that men hammer out their fortunes. Sorrows take up men on their shoulders and enthrone them. Tonics are nearly always bitter. Men, like fruit-trees, are barren unless trimmed with sharp knives. They are like wheat — all the better for the flailing. It required the prison darkness and chill to make John Bunyan dream. Mordecai despised at the gate is only predecessor of Mordecai exalted.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
( R. Sibbes..).
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