Lesson 9: Approaching the Throne
While we’ve spent plenty of time studying our heroine in the last few weeks, we’ve neglected a few important details in the life of our hero, Mordecai– namely the fact that he saved the king’s life! Through this event, and the reactions of the king and Haman, we’ll see (you guessed it) God’s providence in exalting his people. First, let’s backtrack to take a look at the rescue itself.
Somehow, Mordecai must have found himself in the right place at the right time, discovering details key to saving the king’s life. Only the most trusted servants acted as doorkeepers to the king’s bedchambers, so it seems unlikely that the conspirators, Bigthana and Teresh, would have been suspected of murder plots without Mordecai’s information.
Even though this lesson will primarily concern Haman and Mordecai, I feel compelled to give Esther the spotlight here. In delivering this information to the king, she might have easily left out Mordecai’s name. After all, as we’ll find out in 8:1, Ahasuerus doesn’t yet know that the Jew is related to Esther, and might question her association with this strange man outside the palace walls. Wouldn’t it have been easier (and less risky) to take all the credit for herself? However, Esther takes care to give honor where honor is due.
First, we can’t neglect the providential element of this situation. The phrase “the king could not sleep” in verse 1 more literally means “the sleep of the king fled.” It certainly sounds as though something or someone disturbed the king’s slumber, causing him to go through his chronicles and find Mordecai’s unrewarded deed.
Notice Haman’s eagerness here, too– it’s the middle of the night, but he’s already in the king’s court, ready to ask for permission to hang Mordecai. As we see Him do so many times throughout the book, the Lord providentially twists this evil plot to bring honor and success to His people.
In the last lesson, we broke down Haman’s pride and its implications, one of which was a feeling of entitlement. Here we have one more expression of that principle. Feeling very confident of the king’s admiration, Haman feels himself worthy of even the most outrageous honors. First, he calls for “a royal robe which the king has worn”– even though Persian law forbade anyone else from wearing the king’s garments. He also asks for “the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed” (you read that right– he wants a crown for the horse. Can you say extravagant?!). Because of his ridiculous pride, Haman makes ridiculous requests– and he’ll soon be ashamed of it.
If this turn of events isn’t proof that the good Lord gets a kick out of irony, I don’t know what is. Let’s remember for a delicious moment that Persian kings outlawed unhappiness in their presence. Not only did Haman have to obey the king’s orders at a moment’s notice, he had to look happy about it. Once out of the court, he probably regained the right to look upset, but he still had to parade Mordecai through the street in all the king’s array, proclaiming “This is the man whom the king desires to honor” in what I imagine to be a less than enthusiastic voice.
Hopefully you’ve noticed a common thread, not only throughout this chapter, but throughout the entire book of Esther: the amazing providence of God. In a combination of seemingly random events– Mordecai’s information on the evil plot, the king’s insomnia, and Haman’s ironic presence in the king’s court– the Lord sets up His servant for exultation, while bringing His enemy to shame. Even outsiders like Haman’s wife Zeresh begin to see this pattern. Just look what she says here: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.” She can see the hand of the God the Jews serve, and understands its unstoppable might. As if Zeresh spoke prophetically, servants of the king appear while this conversation is still going on to take Haman away to Esther’s banquet– the very banquet which will be Haman’s final downfall.
By Melissa Hite
Melissa Hite is a sophomore studying English at Harding University. While she may live in Arkansas, her heart has stayed in Colorado with her family at Bear Valley Church of Christ. She hopes someday to be not only a mom, but also a Christian writer.