Through the Old Testament in a Year

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Esther 6 – Mordecai honoured

The living God, who never sleeps, keeps constant and careful watch over his people.

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Haman had his pole ready for impaling Mordecai, all he needed was the consent of the king and, given his privileged position in court, he had no doubt that he would soon get that. But he had reckoned without the intervention of the Lord.

That night the king could not sleep so he ordered a volume of the chronicles of his reign to be brought. No doubt he felt reading this would quickly send him to sleep. But who had robbed him of sleep that particular night? Who had prompted him to ask for these chronicles? Who prompted the servant to pick this particular volume and who prompted the king to read the pages that captured his attention? Behind the dramatic human story of Esther, God is at work to accomplish his own purposes, to save his people and to establish his kingdom in this world.

The king read of how Mordecai had overheard a plot to kill him. Mordecai had informed the king and so prevented the king's assassination. But Mordecai had received no recognition or reward for his service. The king is determined to put this right. At first light he asks if any of his advisors are in the court. Haman is already there, anxious to get the king's assent to his own assassination plans. Haman is summoned, but before he can get in his request, the king asks him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?" (v. 6). Haman assumes that the king must be planning to honour him; in his mind no-one is more worthy of the king's honour. So he suggests an elaborate public spectacle:

For the man the king delights to honour, let them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honour, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!” (vv. 7-9).

We who have read of the king's sleeplessness have inside knowledge of whom the king has in mind to honour and cannot but read Haman's suggestion with laughter and delight. He has even told the king to entrust this task to "one of the king's most noble princes". Who more fitting for this task than Haman? So Haman is ordered, "Go at once … Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended" (v. 10). Note that the king knows that Mordecai is a Jew, a man belonging to the race he has assigned for slaughter. Surely the Lord is at work here.

To Haman's dismay he is forced to dress Mordecai in royal robes, set him on royal horseback and lead him around the streets proclaiming, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!" It was his suggestion and he is just the man to carry it out. When he returns home and tells his wife of what has happened she only rubs salt in the wound by telling him, "Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!" (v. 13) – and she was the one who had suggested the impaling! Before Haman can respond, eunuchs from the palace come to summon Haman off to his second banquet with the royals. He must have felt that this was some compensation for this day's humiliation.

We may often be quite unaware of the ways that God is at work in our lives or in the events that go on around us. We may, like Haman, jump to wrong conclusions. Maybe when you are next robbed of sleep at night you will be prompted to ask what the Lord is seeking to bring to your attention. At the very least you can turn your thoughts to him and offer thanksgiving that the living God, who never sleeps, keeps loving watch over you.

Lord God, we thank you for your promise that all things work together for the good of those who love you, those whom you have called to be your own. Help us to trust your promises and not give way to fear when circumstances or people seem to be at work against us.


Peter Misselbrook