Esther 6: Lessons From Mordecai’s Praise and Haman’s Humiliation Regarding the Blessings that God Offers You

Introduction: Haman had succeeded in issuing an order calling for the Jews’ extermination, and he had ordered for gallows to be built to hang Mordecai. But in this moment of darkness, God arranged for Mordecai to be exalted and for Haman to be humiliated. From the events in this chapter, God reveals seven blessings that He offers you. These include His: (1) faithfulness, (2) remembrance, (3) predestination, (4) protection, (5) authority, (6) exaltation, and (7) victory.

First, as part of God’s plan to save the Jews, God caused Xerxes to experience sleeplessness and had him turn to his favorite vanity of having tales about his kingdom read to him. God used his sleeplessness to set in motion events leading to the Jews’ salvation. God is always faithful to keep His promises. Second, in His sovereignty, God had Xerxes’ scribe select (seemingly at random) a reading about when Mordecai saved Xerxes from a plot to kill him. As a selfish man, Xerxes had forgotten about Mordecai and had done nothing to reward him. Unlike Xerxes, God promises to always remember your acts of faith, love, and service for Him. Third, also in His providence, God arranged for Haman to arrive at the royal court with his request to kill Mordecai at the exact moment when God had moved Xerxes’ heart to reward Mordecai. In the life of every believer, God has also predestined events to cause all things to work together for His ultimate good. Fourth, God used Haman’s spiritual blindness to protect Mordecai by causing Haman to believe that the Xerxes wanted to honor him. God also offers to turn your enemy’s spiritual blindness against him to protect you from the enemy’s evil schemes. Fifth, in his desire to have everyone bow to him with the respect normally given to the king, Haman suggested that Xerxes offer lavish public praise with the honored person wearing the king’s royal items. But Haman would never obtain Xerxes’ authority. In contrast, Jesus offers to share His authority with believers. This includes the power of praying in His name. Sixth, God used Haman to publicly honor Mordecai. He received that honor that he deserved but never asked for. God also promises to exalt the humble with honor in heaven. Finally, God used Haman’s wife and friends to prophetically proclaim Haman’s imminent demise. Haman was an antichrist. Just as his days were numbered, God also promises you victory over your spiritual enemy, the devil.

1. Faithfulness: God Promises to Be Faithful to You in Your Time of Need. Esther 6:1.

  • God caused Xerxes to experience a sleepless night as part of His plan to save the Jews. After influencing both Esther and Xerxes to return for a second banquet, God arranged for Xerxes to experience a sleepless night as part of His greater plan: “1 During that night the king could not sleep, so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.” (Esther 6:1). Xerxes was a vain man who found joy in having stories about his reign read to him. God used Xerxes’ vanity as part of His plan to exalt Mordecai, to judge Haman and to save the Jews. “Here, in the most striking way in the whole book, the workings of God’s providence on behalf of His people are shown. ‘God Himself is here, though His name be absent.’ The king’s sleepless night falls after the day when Haman has resolved to ask on the morrow for Mordecai’s execution, a foretaste of the richer vengeance he hopes to wreak on the whole nation of the Jews. . . . when all these apparent accidents are wrought up into the coincidence they make, how completely is the providence visible, the power that will use men as the instruments of its work, whether they know it, or know it not, whether they be willing or unwilling, whether the glory of God is to be manifested in and by and through them, or manifested on them only.” (Ellicott’s Commentary on Esther 6).1

God causes Xerxes to suffer insomnia so that Mordecai’s acts would be read to him2

  • God is sovereign and can use dreams or sleeplessness to influence people. When people become blinded by pride, God can speak through dreams or (in this case) sleeplessness: “14 Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 In a dream, a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people, while they slumber in their beds, 16 then He opens the ears of people, and horrifies them with warnings, 17 so that He may turn a person away from bad conduct, and keep a man from pride; 18 He keeps his soul back from the pit, and his life from perishing by the spear.” (Job 33:14-18) When he was living in rebellion, King Saul complained to the prophet Samuel that God would no longer answer him, by either prophets or by “dreams.” (1 Sam. 28:15). God also used dreams to speak to or warn Abimelech (Gen. 20:3), Isaac (Gen. 26:24), Jacob (Gen. 28:12), Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer (Gen. 40:5-22), Pharaoh (Gen. 41:1-36), Gideon (Jdgs. 7:13-15), Solomon (2 Chr. 1:7-10; 1 Kgs. 3:4-9), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:1-2; 4:5, 18), and Belshazzar (Dan. 7:1-3). God used dreams or sleeplessness to influence leaders who were too proud to listen: “Ahasuerus is master of one hundred and twenty and seven provinces, but not master of ten minutes’ sleep.” (Charles Spurgeon on Esther 6).3

2. Remembrance: God Promises to Remember Your Faithful Service For Him. Esther 6:2-3.

  • God caused Xerxes to remember Mordecai’s service in exposing a plot to kill him. After causing Xerxes to experience sleeplessness, God ordained for a scribe to select for reading the records of Mordecai’s prior role in saving Xerxes from a plot to kill him: “And it was found written what Mordecai had reported about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to attack King Ahasuerus. Then the king said, ‘What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?’ And the king’s servants who attended him said, ‘Nothing has been done for him.’” (Esther 6:2-3). Mordecai previously exposed a plot to kill Xerxes: “But the plot became known to Mordecai and he informed Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s name. Then when the plot was investigated and found to be so, they were both hanged on a wooden gallows; and it was written in the Book of the Chronicles in the king’s presence.” (Esther 2:22-23). But Xerxes previously did nothing to reward him.

  • In his sovereignty, God selected the page regarding Mordecai’s heroism. If the events in Esther were not ordained by God, Xerxes’ scribe would have found a battle between the Greeks and Persians where the Persians were successful. Or, the scribe might have selected a reading regarding the vastness of the empire, Xerxes’ wealth or the tributes of his subjects. Reading about a plot to kill Xerxes would have likely upset him. Only God would have ordained a seemingly random reading that involved Mordecai’s loyalty and service at the exact moment when Haman was on his way to request Mordecai’s death.

  • Xerxes had dishonored himself by failing to reward Mordecai. Xerxes’ inquiry into whether he had honored Mordecai was not the sign of a hidden virtue. Under Persian tradition, it was a sign of dishonor for the king. “The oversight must have disturbed Xerxes, as it was a reflection on him for not rewarding one of his benefactors. Herodotus indicated that it was a point of honor with Persian kings to reward promptly and generously those who had benefited them.”4 God would use Xerxes’ selfish concern about his potential dishonor to motivate him to promptly reward Mordecai.

  • God will remember your acts of faith, love, charity, and service. While Xerxes forgot Mordecai’s loyalty and service, God never forgets your love and service for Him: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, by having served and by still serving the saints.” (Heb. 6:10). While Xerxes had “book of records, the chronicles” (Esther 6:1), God has a book of remembrance in heaven to celebrate your acts of faith, love, charity, and service to Him: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened attentively and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and esteem His name.” (Malachi 3:16). “But now, if You will forgive their sin, very well; but if not, please wipe me out from Your book which You have written!” (Ex. 32:32). “May they be wiped out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous.” (Ps. 69:28). “The one who overcomes will be clothed the same way, in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; Lk. 10:20).

  • God wants you to seek out His wisdom. Xerxes was too spiritually blind to even ask why he could not sleep. He thought that tales of his own alleged greatness would help him sleep. When you are troubled, God wants you to seek out His wisdom as opposed to relying upon your own understanding: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Ja. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). A wise and godly leader should not lean upon his or her own understandings: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). Are you seeking His wisdom to guide your actions? Or, are you relying upon yourself?

3. Predestination: God Causes All Things To Work Together For Good. Esther 6:4-5.

  • God timed Haman’s arrival at the moment when Xerxes sought to reward Mordecai. In His providence, God had Haman arrive to petition for Mordecai’s execution at the exact moment when Xerxes was looking for a way to honor Mordecai: “So the king said, ‘Who is in the courtyard?’ Now Haman had just entered the outer courtyard of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the wooden gallows which he had prepared for him. So the king’s servants said to him, ‘Behold, Haman is standing in the courtyard.’ And the king said, ‘Have him come in.’” (Esther 6:4-5). Xerxes asked if there was anyone in the courtyard because he wanted to correct his dishonor in having failed to reward Mordecai. If he failed to reward Mordecai, others might feel little motivation to put themselves at risk by reporting plots against the king. Xerxes had no idea that Haman had come at that same moment to request a meeting about Mordecai. A meeting that Haman meant for evil, God would turn into good.

  • God can cause all things to work together for His glory. God timed these events to cause everything to work together for His good: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). When David was under attack, he said in faith: “Perhaps the LORD will look on my misery and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” (2 Sam. 16:12). As one commentator observes: “It was no coincidence that Haman entered the king's court at just that moment; it was no coincidence that Haman came at that moment to ask for the execution of Mordecai; it was no coincidence that king Ahasuerus wanted to honor Mordecai at just that moment. . . . If this Book of Esther shows us anything, it shows us that God manages the affairs of men, even without their knowledge. God knows what He is doing and in the courts of heaven there are no coincidences or surprises. Esther wasn't lucky to be queen; Mordecai wasn't lucky to have overheard the assassination plot; it wasn't luck or chance that made Haman enter the royal courts at this time with this heart. All of these events were orchestrated by God and not by luck.” (David Guzik on Esther 6) (italics in original).5 Do you trust that God is in control, even when times are bad? Or, are you only praising Him when times are good?

4. Protection: God Offers His Protection from the Enemy’s Evil Schemes. Esther 6:6.

  • Haman assumed that Mordecai’s honor was meant for him. When Xerxes asked how to honor a hero, Haman assumed out of his pride that he was the man to receive the honor: “Haman then came in and the king said to him, ‘What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?’ And Haman said to himself, ‘Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?’” (Esther 6:6). Haman’s pride had so blinded him that he failed to ask Xerxes who would be honored. Having previously been selected to become Xerxes’ most powerful administrator and having been invited to the queen’s private banquet, Haman assumed that he was the only person that Xerxes would want to honor.

  • Haman’s pride deceived him. Haman’s pride allowed him to be deceived: ‘“ . . . The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,’ . . . declares the LORD.” (Jer. 49:16). His pride also lead to his spiritual blindness: “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”’ (Jo. 9:39). His pride would first be the source of his humiliation: “A man’s pride will bring him low, . . .” (Prov. 29:23). His pride would later lead to his destruction (Prov. 16:18). The gallows that he built for Mordecai would soon be used on him (Esther 5:14).

  • God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. God is a shield for all who take refuge in Him (Ps. 18:30; 2 Sam. 22:3, 31). Because God was with Mordecai, Haman’s attacks would fail: ‘“No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; and you will condemn every tongue that accuses you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.” (Is 54:17). Out of grace, God never abandoned His people in exile: “Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.” (Neh. 9:31). If you are under attack, are you crying out to Jesus to be your shield?

5. Authority: With Faith in Jesus, He Offers to Share His Authority with You. Esther 6:7-9.

  • Haman described his desires to have authority similar to the king. In his desire to have everyone bow to him with the respect normally given to the king, Haman suggested that Xerxes offer lavish public praise with the honored person wearing the king’s royal items: “Therefore Haman said to the king, ‘For the man whom the king desires to honor, have them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal turban has been placed; then order them to hand the robe and the horse over to one of the king’s noble officials, and have them dress the man whom the king desires to honor, and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘So it shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor.’’” (Esther 6:7-9). For a person to receive the king’s “royal robe” was a sign of the king’s highest respect (1 Sam. 18:4). Joseph received Pharaoh’s public honor in a similar manner (Gen. 41:39-45). Haman showed that he was not content with the wealth, power, and respect that he had already received. His pride demanded that all celebrate him like the king. Here, the person would not just use one royal item, but all of them together. This included the royal robe, the royal horses and royal public tributes from the king’s highest official. “To wear a robe that the king had worn and ride a horse that the king had ridden was the highest mark of honor that could be shown to a subject. The horse was to have ‘a royal crest placed on its head.”’6 Out of pride, Haman may have thought that he would one day become King of Persia.

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669) Haman seeks to be honored (1665)7

  • Satan’s pride also caused him to seek Jesus’ authority. Satan has temporary authority over the world: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 Jo. 5:19; Jo. 12:31). Yet, like Haman, Satan is not content with the authority that he has. Thus, while trying to tempt Jesus, he asked for the authority of the King of Kings, with Jesus worshiping him: “And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I want. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” (Lk. 4:6-7). “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,”’ (Is. 14:13-16). Like Haman, Satan’s pride was his downfall.

  • Jesus offer to share His authority with faithful believers. Unlike the Persian kings who believed that they controlled the world, all authority in heaven and on Earth ultimately rests with Jesus: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”’ (Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9; Col. 2:10; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 3:22; 1 Cor. 15:27). Yet, through the Holy Spirit and when you serve in faithful humility, Jesus offers to share His authority with you: “Behold, I have given you authority to walk on snakes and scorpions, and authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Lk. 10:19). “for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Pet. 1:3). “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 2:14).

  • The authority given to use Jesus’ power through prayer. Believers are also given authority to use the power of Jesus’ name in prayer. Believers are commanded to gather in Jesus’ name (Matt. 18:20). Believers are to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19). In the book of Acts, the early disciples also frequently referred to their service, worship, and suffering as being done in Jesus Christ’s “name.” (e.g, Acts 4:18; 5:28, 41; 10:43; 19:17). The name of Jesus will, however, be a stumbling block to non-believers. Jesus warns that those who bear His name will be hated (Matt. 10:22). Yet, for those believers who pray in faith, Jesus has given them His authority to pray with the power of His name. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jo. 14:13-14). “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (Jo. 15:16). “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” (Jo. 16:23). The name is so powerful that the archangel Michael was able to drive Satan away merely by rebuking him in Jesus’ name (Jude 1:9). Are you using the authority that Jesus has given to you in your prayer life?

6. Exaltation: God Promises to Exalt the Humble With Honor in Heaven. Esther 6:10-11.

  • Xerxes ordered Haman to honor Mordecai with lavish public praise. Just when Haman expected Xerxes to give him the public celebration that he so desperately craved, Xerxes ordered Haman to personally parade Mordecai about as Haman requested for himself: “10 Then the king said to Haman, ‘Quickly, take the robe and the horse just as you have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king’s gate; do not fail to do anything of all that you have said.’ 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, and dressed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, ‘So it shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor.’” (Esther 6:10-11). Haman had come to Xerxes to request Mordecai’ public execution. He left the meeting being ordered to publicly celebrate Mordecai with lavish praise as a hero of the kingdom.

Pieter Lastman (1583-1633) “Mordecai’s Triumph” (1617)8

Luvas van Leyden (1494-1533) “Mordecai’s Triumph” (etching 1515)9

  • God humbled Haman for his pride. Haman’s pride led to his humiliation: “foolishness is set in many exalted places while the rich sit in humble places. I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.” (Ecc. 10:6-7) “Luxury is not fitting for a fool; much less for a slave to rule over princes.” (Prov. 19:10).

  • God exalted Mordecai because he humbled himself before God. God exalted Mordecai because he approached God in humility (Esther 4:1-4). He had faith that God would intervene for the Jews if Esther failed to act, and he encouraged Esther to fulfill her calling (Esther 4:14). He also never asked for the public honor for saving Xerxes that he deserved (Esther 2:22-23). Indeed, he waited five years without a single complaint to be honored for saving Xerxes’ life: “O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear.” (Ps. 10:17). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Ja. 4:10). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5; KJV). Are you seeking to serve God in faithful humility without seeking credit or boasting?

7. Victory: God Also Promises You Victory Over Your Spiritual Enemy. Esther 6:12-14.

  • Haman’s wife and friends prophetically proclaim his doom. After being publicly humiliated, God used Haman’s wife and friends to proclaim his impending judgment: “12 Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, while Haman hurried home, mourning, with his head covered. 13 And Haman informed Zeresh his wife and all his friends of everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, ‘If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not prevail over him, but will certainly fall before him.’ 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and quickly brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.” (Esther 6:12-14). By covering his head, Haman returned in the manner of a person mourning a loved one’s death. It was also a sign of extreme shame (c.f., 2 Sam. 15:30; Jer. 14:3-4). Haman loved no one more than himself. He was unknowingly mourning his own imminent demise. At the same moment his wife and friends proclaimed his demise, Xerxes’ servants arrived to bring him to his place of judgment.

  • Mordecai remained humble after being honored. It might have been easy for Mordecai’s honor to go to his head. One might have expected him to quickly go to his people to at least share with them the amazing turn of events. But Mordecai shows himself to be faithful to Xerxes by immediately returning to his post (Esther 6:12). When God allows you to be honored or receive praise, do you take the credit and let it go to your head?

  • God was faithful to curse Haman because he cursed the Jews. Haman’s curse fulfilled God’s promise to the Jews. As part of His covenant with Abraham, God promised to curse the Jews’ enemies: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). Through Isaac’s blessing upon Jacob, God confirmed this covenant (Gen. 27:29; Nu. 24:9; Is. 60:14). God also promised to blot out the Amalekites, which included Haman: “I will utterly wipe out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14b; 1 Sam. 15:1-2). When God was with them, no enemy could defeat the Jews.

  • God will also give you victory over the devil. Satan is not a match against Jesus: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). Although Satan may seem scary, his days are numbered. He was first cast out of heaven (Lk. 10:18). He will soon be cast out of this world: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (Jo. 12:31). One day, he will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). If you are feeling defeated, are you giving thanks that Jesus has already won the war?

  1. Frank Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 822.↩︎

  2. Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, Vol. 10, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 345.↩︎