Esther 6 – Honor for Mordecai
A. The king’s question.
1. (1-3) A sleepless night.
That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on 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.”
a. The king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles: King Ahasuerus did what many people do when they cannot sleep. He brought out a book and used it to fill the sleepless night, hoping that the reading would make him sleepy again.
i. “Ahasuerus is master of one hundred and twenty and seven provinces, but not master of ten minutes’ sleep.” (Spurgeon)
b. And it was found written: This was a remarkable example of providence in action. King Ahasuerus cannot sleep, and he can choose 20 different diversions to fill his sleepless night – but he commands that a book be brought to him and read. The one commanded to bring the book could have brought any one book of the records of the chronicles, but he brought one particular book. The book could be opened to any page, but it was opened to the exact page telling the story of Mordecai and how he saved the king from assassination. God guided every step along the way.
i. Even as King Ahasuerus had a book of the records of the chronicles (literally a book of remembrance), so God also has a book of remembrance: Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).
c. What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this? Showing rare concern for a common subject, King Ahasuerus considered a reward for Mordecai.
2. (4-5) Haman in the courts of the king.
So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”
a. Now Haman had just entered the outer court: 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.
b. Haman is there, standing in the court: 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.
i. Esther wasn’t lucky to be queen; Mordecai wasn’t lucky to have heard of 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.
ii. This becomes difficult, of course, when bad things happen to us. It is easy to see God’s management of all things when we see good things happen. But what about the bad? Even then, we must trust God’s total plan, realizing that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We understand that Paul says all things work together; any one event, taken in isolation may seem to make no sense, but when we see all things working together we then see the ultimate wisdom of God’s plan.
3. (6) King Ahasuerus asks a question of Haman.
So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”
a. What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? God arranged all things, so that not only would all the Jews be ultimately protected, but also so that both Mordecai and Haman would each receive what they deserved.
b. Whom would the king delight to honor more than me? God often allows a proud man to fall into his own trap (Proverbs 26:27). Here God arranged that Haman’s pride and arrogance would be the cause of his ultimate humiliation.
4. (7-9) Haman’s answer on how the king should honor the man who pleases the king.
And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”
a. For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn: Haman, in his childish desire to be praised and honored by all, asked for things that really mattered very little, except to puff himself up with pride.
b. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor: Haman was a tragic man who could only believe he had done well when he heard applause. It is a good and sometimes appropriate thing to have applause here on earth, but it is tragic to live your life seeking for it. We should instead seek and be satisfied with the applause from heaven.
B. The king’s command.
1. (10-11) Haman must lead the chorus of praise for Mordecai.
Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.” So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”
a. Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew: It would have been something to see the face of Haman at that moment; to see that the king took his advice completely, but gave the honor to his arch-enemy – the man that Haman came to ask to be executed.
b. So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square: The ultimate humiliation was for Haman to honor Mordecai in such a public way; humiliation is only really humiliation when it is public.
2. (12-14) Mourning, warning, and a hasty departure to Esther’s banquet.
Afterward Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.” While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.
a. Mourning, and with his head covered: This means that Haman acted as if someone dear to him had died. In fact, his pride had been dealt a death-blow.
b. You will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him: Haman’s wife and his advisors could see the future well enough. Haman would not prevail against Mordecai, but Mordecai would prevail over Haman.