Haman's Fall Before The King And Queen - Esther 7:1-10
Last week we saw that the momentum in this story has completely shifted by the providential hand of God from Haman to Esther. On the previous night before Haman had a 70’ gallows built in his yard on which he could kill Mordecai. Then early in the morning he went to the king’s palace to get permission to execute righteous Mordecai.
Little did he know, however, that the LORD had kept the king up all night. At that time the king called for the book of Chronicles, the book of Memorable Deeds, and had it read to him. It was then that the king was reminded that he had never rewarded Mordecai for saving his life and he acted very quickly to right the wrong. Haman was entrapped by his own pride, arrogance and conceit; and instead of being able to ask the king for permission to kill Mordecai, he was told to be the principle player in honoring him.
Haman was crushed and humiliated after having done this and he returned to his family and friends hoping to receive some comfort but it did not happen. They said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but you will surely fall before him.” Then read these words in Esther 6:14, “And while they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.”
At this point, the momentum has completely shifted. Haman is beginning to see that his kingdom is falling apart and he is powerless to stop it. Everything is out of his control; not that it was ever really true that he was controlling any of these events. God raises up and he tears people down.
Our text this morning is Esther 7:1-10,
So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” 6 And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
7 And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. 8 And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.
Our text begins in Esther 7:1 with these words, “So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.” There are two passages of scripture that come to mind as I consider Esther in this moment. First, I think of Psalm 23:5-6. I can see her saying these words to herself, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” She will soon ask King Ahasuerus for her request; but ultimately she is continuing to look to the LORD for deliverance.
Secondly, I think of Psalm 123 as a Psalm that she might remember at this time. There we read,
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. 4 Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.
The King Honors The Queen
Esther 7:2 says, “And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’”
This is the third occasion in which the king has sought to hear Esther’s wish and to act upon her request. Three times the king has brought this up to Esther. Three times the king has taken the initiative to hear from Esther about what she would desire to have. He has promised to give her up to half his kingdom on all three of these occasions. He has not wavered, backed off, seemed intimidated or seemed hesitant to hear what she has to say.
One of the reasons that I mention this is because in two of my commentaries on Esther they mentioned that King Ahasuerus was not able to sleep in Esther 6:1 because he was afraid of what the queen might ask for. They suggest that the king may have regretted having promised Esther that he would give her up to half of his kingdom. For example David Firth said this, “...it is perfectly possible to understand why the king might not have been able to sleep. If our exegesis of 5:7-8 is correct then the king may be aware that Esther is about to (quite literally) take him up on his promise of up to the half of his kingdom. Ahasuerus might not be the brightest king that ever lived, but even for him this would be a perfectly plausible reason for sleeplessness.”1
I would have to disagree with this line of thinking and the conclusions that come from it. We have seen that the king has trusted the word of many foolish people so far in the book of Esther. We have also seen that the king quickly gives wicked Haman his signet ring and full authority to institute an evil plan against the Jews. None of these events made him loose one moment of sleep even though it should have done so. We have also seen that Esther has been honored by others over and over again because of her dignity and grace.
I find it hard to believe that the king, even as foolish as he has been, cannot sense that there is something different about Esther. She is humble, gracious, compassionate, contented and wise; and no husband looses a moment of sleep because of these qualities in their wife.
Proverbs 31:10-12 – An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She doe3s him good, and not harm all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:28 – Her children rise up and c all her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
If King Ahasuerus regretted having promised Esther up to half the kingdom in Esther 5:2-3 then why does he say it again later that day? And if he regretted having said it twice, then why does he emphasize his willingness to do it again the next day? On all three occasions it is the king who initiates the request.
Esther 5:2-3, “And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, ‘What is it Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you, even to the half of my kingdom.”
Esther 5:6, “And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, ‘What is your wish? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” (Now the king asks for her wish and her request.)
Esther 7:2, “And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’” (Here we are told that the king asks again for what Esther wishes and what she would request of him.)
King Ahasuerus does not seem like a man who is troubled by the words that he has spoken. I do not think that he couldn’t sleep in Esther 6:1 because he was troubled by this. In fact, I think it really misses the point of this book which teaches us about the presence of God and His providential care.
King Ahasuerus has been slow to do almost everything apart from his counselors giving him advice and counsel; but here, he has never been more confident in what he would do for Queen Esther if she will just tell him what she would like.
Esther 5:2reminds us that this request is based upon the favor and pleasure that Esther has with the king. This is the basis of Esther’s request in the next two verses. In Esther 7:3-4 we see that Esther now makes her request to the king and we read, “Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king…”.
King Ahasuerus’ heart has been fully inclined to show Esther favor by the LORD. That is not to say that the king does not have practical reasons for these things but should we not see God’s sovereign hand behind this as well.
Proverbs 21:1, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he will.”
Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the LORD he makes his enemies be at peace with him.”
Esther Identifies Publicly With The People Of God For The First Time
For the first time Esther has now revealed to King Ahasuerus and to everyone else that she is a Jew and that her fate is tied to the fate of her people who have been condemned to die. Esther says to King Ahasuerus, “Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.”
In order for Esther to save the people of God she must identify with them. She must stand before the King Ahasuerus and admit that she is a Jew and that she and all the Jews have been sold to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. She quotes the decree that Haman had sent throughout the kingdom in this request to the king.
Esther also says, “If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Esther says that if they had been sold as slaves, both men and women, she would have remained silent. If that were the case, she would have never come to see the king to make this request. If that were the case, she would have remained silent.
However, she says that the death of the Jews would bring great loss to the king. In other words, Esther says that this will effect the revenues of the king. This is completely contrary to the propaganda that Haman had spoken to the king. He had promised 10,000 talents of silver for the kings treasury if he would sanction this act. He made it sound like there was only profit to be had by doing this. Esther reveals the reality of it all. She reminds the king that if the Jews are killed there will be great loss in the kingdom in every way imaginable.
Esther brings up a harsh reality that we often see working its way throughout the fabric of our world at every level today. The love of money truly is the root of all sorts of evil. People will engage in great sin to get wealth. People will engage in sin to maintain their wealth. People will engage in great sin keep from loosing their wealth. We see this played out in the news every day.
Societies that engage in the trafficking of people and harmful goods are overlooked if they can gain something by it.
Countries are allowed to do great evil because other countries need their resources (oil and goods).
Injustice is done for the price of a bribe, a promotion, or for a favor.
Injustice becomes very subjective when the size of our bank account is effected by it.
Esther uses this very ugly and shameful aspect of our sinful world as a motivation for King Ahasuerus to condemn Haman and save the Jewish people. In this moment, she pleads for her life and the lives of all the Jews by referring to the great loss that the king would experience. In a world where all life should have innate value, it is a real sign of our depraved condition when one has to appeal to the wallet and not the heart to receive help, mercy and justice.
Along these same lines let us consider a gospel application at this point. In the New Testament we see a parallel between our text in Esther and Jesus Christ as he approached the cross. For example, in Luke 22:37 we find these words, “For I tell you that Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”
Notice that just like Esther, Jesus had to identify with the people to save them. Jesus came down from heaven and was born as a Jewish man. He lived among the Jews in the promised land. He lived under the Law of God, to redeem those who were under the Law of God (Galatians 4:4). More than that Jesus identified with us in our sinfulness and He was numbered with the transgressors.
Notice carefully what is said by Luke, “For I tell you that the Scripture must be fulfilled in me…”. Jesus came and actively fulfilled all righteousness by fulfilling the Scriptures and the Law. He also passively fulfilled all righteousness by having the Law and the Scriptures fulfilled in Him. For example, we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake (God) he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Esther offered physical deliverance, but Jesus gives eternal life.
Esther stands before the king and pleads for the people, Jesus stands with His people and dies in their place.
Esther must persuade the king to spare the Jews, but Jesus bears its penalty and secures our pardon.2
Haman’s Death And The King’s Wrath Was Abated
Let’s read verses 7-10, “And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.”
In this moment, the king realized that he was caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, he had previously authorized Haman to send out a decree throughout the entire kingdom that the Jewish people were to be killed. On the other hand, the king had on three separate occasions permitted the queen to ask for up to half his kingdom. Now in this moment these two things had come together and he found himself in the middle of the collision. As a result of these things the king got up and went to the king’s garden to contemplate his next action.
Even Haman realized in this moment that harm had been determined against him. So as the king went out he stayed with Queen Esther to plead for his life. In his panic he forgot some of the palace rules. For example, in the Persian court, a man, was forbidden from being left alone with a member of the king’s harem, and even in the presence of the king no one was permitted within seven steps of one of the royal concubines.3
When the king came back he found Haman falling upon Esther as he plead for his life. Haman had broken the Palace rules and so the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the king spoke these words Haman’s face was covered. The king was told about the gallows that Haman had made for Mordecai whose words had saved the king, so the king told his servants to hang him on that scaffold.
I have often wished that I could have witnessed this moment. Everything in this moment has led up to this very moment when the king would act to fulfill Esther’s wish that her and the Jewish people would be saved. And although it is not even addressed here we can assume that this is the first time that Esther may be made aware of the fact that Haman had made gallows for her Uncle Mordecai and had intended to have had him killed on it earlier that morning. We read, “...one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.”
I think it is safe to assume that Esther was surprised and shocked by this news. She had known about Haman’s deceitful and malicious heart for some time, but now she finds out that it is even worse than she had suspected.
We know that the king was angry at Haman when he realized that he was the one who had set this evil plot in motion, but now he would have become even more angry. He had just found out that Haman had intended to kill a faithful servant who had saved his life. With that in mind, consider the force with which the king would have said the words, “Hang him on that.”
Our text ends in verse 10 with these words, “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.”
In our text today, it is an evil man who died and that death abated the wrath of King Ahasuerus. In the gospel, however, it is the death of the sinless and righteous Jesus Christ who propitiates the wrath of God for us who are sinners. Jesus, who was innocent of any wrong doing dies so that guilty people can be reconciled to God. It is the perfect Lamb of God who dies so that transgressors, rebels and lawless men and women can be reconciled to a Holy God (2 Cor. 5:19).
1) Even while Esther was going before the king to make her request she continued to entrust herself to the LORD. Similarly, when Jesus was going to the cross He entrusted Himself to His Father. (Luke 22:39-46) So also, we are instructed to look to Jesus at all times (Hebrews 3:1). Let us remember Hebrews 4:14-16 each and every day, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
2) Remember that it is the LORD whom we should please. If our lives please Him then he can make even our enemies to be at peace with us. Or He will remove them altogether as He does in our text this morning. If you are struggling with someone seek the LORD and obey His Word. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful testimony if we began to hear how our enemies are now at peace with us because God honored us. It would be great to hear families experience peace as they look to the LORD. Or employees and employers experience peace as they honor the LORD. Or brother and sisters in Christ who have struggled together to experience peace as they look to the LORD.
3) We saw in our text today that Esther finally publicly identifies with the Jewish people. We have also seen that Jesus became a man and identified with us; yet with no sin. Have you identified with Christ in a public way? Have you determined to identify with His people in a public way? Luke 9:26, “For whosoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” 1 Peter 2:17, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
4) We have seen that there was only one way for the wrath of God to be propitiated from sinful men and women. Jesus Christ became sin so that we might become righteous. Have you forsaken your sins and turned to Jesus Christ by faith? Have your forsaken all idols and embraced Jesus as Savior?
1The Message of Esther, David Firth, pg. 91.
2Ruth and Esther, David Strain, 142
3Ruth and Esther, David Strain, 143; Esther, Debra Reid, 127