The hour of truth has come. Haman’s role is over. The diabolical plan he devised to kill Mordecai has been thwarted. Now Haman’s devilish plan for the annihilation of Mordecai’s people has yet to be undone. It will be done by a supplication of Esther. Before us here is the lesson that God would like to save by the prayer of His people. This applies to us and it also applies to the faithful remnant in the end times. It is a tremendous exhortation for us to pray more for God’s people!
1 - 4 Esther’s Request
1 Now the king and Haman came to drink [wine] with Esther the queen. 2 And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” 3 Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; 4 for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.”
Ahasuerus comes with Haman to Queen Esther to drink with her (verse 1). It reads as if the king takes Haman by the hand. Haman has nothing to say, but only to do what the king wants. It is the same in the relationship between God and satan. Satan is not an equal match for God, but only a creature that is completely subject to God.
As they drink the wine, the king also asks Esther on the second day, that is, the day of the second banquet, what her petition is and what her request is (verse 2). His offer remains valid. He has not changed his mind and has not forgotten that Esther has a petition and what he has promised her in connection with it.
In her answer Esther first appeals to her personal relationship with the king that is based on grace (verse 3). Then she appeals to the king on his mind of favor. Then she first asks for her own life; then she asks for the life of her people. She does not yet say which people are involved. She does, however, speak of “my people”. In doing so, she presents the people as her own endangered possessions. The way she expresses herself shows that she presupposes that the king’s kind offer testifies to his concern for her and her people, a concern that is greater than for anyone and any other people.
She cautiously motivates her petition and her request. She talks about the fact that she and her people have been sold (verse 4), without speaking of a seller. The ‘seller’ is in fact the king himself! But she avoids any suggestion in that direction. She does say that the sale means that she and her people are sold “to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated”. That goes much further than selling them as slaves, men and women. How sad that might be, in that case she would have remained silent, because that would not have been an exceptional fate. History has shown this in what happened to the people in Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. Now, however, they have been sold to be annihilated.
The meaning of the last part of verse 4 is probably that in case of sale as slaves, men and women, the need of slavery would not outweigh the burden the king would have. Esther says slavery alone isn’t enough to bother the king. The fact that she is now bothering the king means that the situation is much more serious than that it would ‘merely’ be slavery. It’s about life and death.
God wants to work through the prayer of His own. God puts us in trouble, so that we can learn to intercede for His whole people with an appeal to His grace. Esther has no sword to defend herself, but a much more effective weapon: a supplication. If we were to use it more and more intently, how much it would benefit the people of God. God could give more blessing.
5 - 10 Haman Unmasked and Judged
5 Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?” 6 Esther said, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king arose in his anger from drinking wine [and went] into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him by the king. 8 Now when the king returned from the palace garden into the place where they were drinking wine, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who [were] before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.
Her veiled way of speaking forces the king to ask the next question. Because Esther has introduced the king into her great distress in what she has said, it is as if the king asks his question with suffocated breath: “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?” (verse 5). The first part of the question concerns the person, who and where he is. The second part is a condemnation of that person’s inner motives. In order to come to an actual conviction, it is necessary to know who that person is and where he is, so that he can be arrested and punished.
Esther’s answer is now straightforward and with absolute precision. She says, as it were, with her finger pointed at Haman: “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” (verse 6). With these names we must remember that they are mentioned in the king’s palace. Esther unmasks at the place of the greatest majesty someone who has penetrated into the inside of the palace, not as a friend, but as an opponent and enemy. The words Esther uses evoke the thought of a palace revolution. Only the death sentence can be pronounced on such a person.
Haman realizes this immediately. He becomes terrified. He is unmasked as someone who threatens the king by trying to kill his wife. He also threatens the queen by trying to kill her people. The star of Haman already falling falls deeper and deeper.
Part of our weak prayer life is that we do not distinguish the enemy. Esther knows how to identify him by name. She can bring the danger directly to the king’s attention. If we could and did that more, we would have more answers to our prayers. Haman is a picture of what the enemy will do to the people in the future as an oppressor.
The king also immediately realizes what a terrible man Haman is and becomes angry (verse 7). That is a messenger of death, but there is no one here to reconcile (Pro 16:14). As if to consider the situation, the king removes himself from the dining room and goes into the garden. Immediately Haman uses the opportunity to make another desperate attempt to avert doom. He wants to beg the queen for his life. Here we see that the roles are reversed. He who seeks the life of the Jewish people to kill them now begs a Jewess to spare his own life. Just as Haman had to humiliate himself before for Mordecai, so he humiliates himself now before Esther.
He sinks on his knees in front of a Jewess, a woman. To save his skin, he’s not ashamed of that now. Demons can also behave very pitifully (Mt 8:31). What Haman does, those who have distressed the Jews will once do to the same Jews (Isa 60:14). Something similar we read in the promise to the church in Philadelphia: “ Behold, I will cause [those] of the synagogue of satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will [make them] come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you” (Rev 3:9). The day will come when those who now hate and persecute God’s elect will want to stand with them in favor, but must then discover that it is too late, forever too late.
When the king returns from the garden to the dining room, he sees that Haman has fallen down on Esther’s couch (verse 9). The bed on which Esther sought rest and now has found it cannot be a rest bed for Haman. That he falls down there symbolically represents the even deeper fall he will make. He no longer stands up, but sinks even deeper.
Esther’s resting bed is in any case already an extremely inappropriate place for a subject, no matter how distinguished he may be. Moreover, in these circumstances, it is an act that grieves the king to the depths of his innermost being. He makes a direct judgment on Haman and lets it be carried out without delay. Haman’s attempt to save his life is counterproductive, as it accelerates his judgment.
For Haman the judgment is irrevocable. For him there is no golden scepter to touch, it is not given to him. From that moment on it becomes dark for him. His face is covered because he is not worthy to behold the king and the king does not want to see him anymore. He has seen nothing more of the king and of Esther. The darkening of his face is the harbinger of eternal darkness. Thus the lamp of the wicked is extinguished (Pro 13:9; 24:20).
Then Harbonah comes forward (verse 9). He is one of the seven eunuchs who had to fetch Queen Vashti to appear at the feast of Ahasuerus (Est 1:10). He has important information, with which he now comes forward. He is pointing out to the king the gallows that Haman had erected for Mordecai. He also knows how high it is and tells that to the king as well.
Then he gives a beautiful testimony of Mordecai. Harbonah also knows that Mordecai “spoke good on behalf of the king”, which means that Mordecai spoke in the interest of the king. He also appears to be aware of the discovery of Mordecai’s conspiracy and royalism (Est 2:21-23).
Harbonah speaks to the king about what Mordecai did out of love for him. Thus, we may speak to God about what the Lord Jesus did out of love for Him. Everything the Lord Jesus has done has been for the good of God. Let us also seek the interests of the Lord Jesus and not those of ourselves.
In what Harbonah says, for the king lies the solution to the question of what to do with Haman. A brief and powerful command sounds from his mouth toward Haman: “Hang him on it.” Ahasuerus gives Haman the place that Haman thought for Mordecai. In the next chapter Mordecai gets Haman’s place.
The change in fate between Mordecai and Haman can also be seen in the men who have let Daniel be thrown into the lion’s den. They end up there themselves, after Daniel has been taken out (Dan 6:24-25). Evil returns on the head of the one who invented it (Psa 7:16; 9:17). Man is trapped by his own works.
The hanging of Haman at a great height is an open exhibition of the execution of the enemy of God’s people. This public execution of the judgment of the enemy can be seen in the work of Christ on the cross: “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Col 2:15).
When Haman is hanged “on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai” the king’s anger subsides (verse 10). God’s anger over sin is appeased by what Christ did on the cross and where He bruised satan’s head (Gen 3:15). How great is His work and how glorious are its results for everyone who believes! How great is He!