Devotional: Esther Chapters 6-7 – A Turn of Events 

Last week we talked about how Esther had to act with divine wit to navigate the political game, but this week, without Esther’s knowledge, God takes over the game.

Chapter 6

Mordecai Honored

1) That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.

This is a turning point in the whole story. Could it be that the King couldn’t sleep because he was pondering over what Esther wanted? Was it some irrelevant issue? Was it just that God would not allow him to sleep? Whatever it was that caused him not to sleep, it was the hand of God and nothing else that leads the next series of events.

All kings both in ancient times and today keep records of their reign. The Persians had some deplorable records, and a lot of them have not been preserved for us to see today. I wonder if he had the records read to him because they were boring or because he just liked hearing about himself. Whatever the reason, this was also divine providence. 

 2) It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

This story of Mordecai was told to us at the beginning of Esther’s marriage to the King. Why did this stick out to the King this time? Was this the first time in 5 years that the King had these records read to him? Probably not, but we see God’s hand in this. Persian kings prided themselves in rewarding those who help them encourage loyalty, but King Xerxes only remembers doing this now after so many years. 

 3) “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

 4) The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

5) His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

Bring him in,” the king ordered.

This is a superb twist of events. Haman may be there specifically to request Mordecai to be hung on the posts he had set up right before Esther’s party. He had come to do evil, but God had other plans.

 6) When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?”

Haman’s pride causes his own downfall. He has not had a chance to tell the King why he was there. Instead, he is so pleased with the idea of getting yet another promotion and more honor that he even forgets to mention his request.

 7) So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor,

8) have 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.

 9) 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 honor, 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 honor!'”

I find this honor a bit silly. This isn’t about money, property, or provision. It is all about attention and showing how close he is to the King. Haman knows he is rich and all the things he has. He doesn’t ask for a party because he is going to Esther’s parties. He doesn’t ask for land or clothes. All he wants is power and fame.

 10) “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “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.”

 11) So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

12) Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,

13) and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

 His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!”

14) While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

This was like a physical blow to Haman. Apparently, the King had no idea that Haman and Mordecai hated each other. Even Haman’s wife sees the hand of God behind this. It is obvious that Mordecai did not cause this to happen. Haman completely invented the honor. God was working behind the scenes in ways Esther and Mordecai could not foresee or control. Have you had God work behind the scenes for you before?

Chapter 7

Haman Impaled

1) So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet,

2) and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

The King must be exhausted at this point. He couldn’t sleep, he had a busy day, and now he was drinking wine which makes people sleepy. I imagine he was asking in a plea just to tell him. The King was in a place to really listen and understand that this was very important to Esther.

 3) Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.

 4) For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”

 5) King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

6) Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”

Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

Esther does not reveal who her people are by name but by the decree. Both Haman and the King are left wondering who would threaten the Queen’s life until the point she names Haman. Suddenly they both know she is Jewish. This was wise because Esther did not know how the King felt about the Jews, but she did think he loved her. To point out that the decree would affect her life first makes the request very personal versus her just interfering with government policies and trying to control the King. The clear, matter-of-fact presentation left Haman no room to contradict her. It also clear accuses Haman of treason. Treason had not been Haman’s intention; genocide was. Esther may not have known if the King would take her side if the accusation were genocide, but making it a personal attack against the King’s own family was something very different, and Haman knew it. That is why he suddenly became afraid.

7) The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

It is admirable that the King did not decree Haman’s death that very moment but took time to clear his head to think rationally. King Xerxes needed to understand how he had been tricked and consider the ramifications of what was said. This shows that he was a competent ruler.

Haman realized that if his life were to be spared, it would only be by Esther’s words, not from the King. The King swore to do what Esther requested, and Haman knew he would keep his request. This is why he was begging Esther for his life instead of the King.

 8) Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”

 As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

This seems to show that Haman realized he was doomed to death as soon as the King spoke. 

 9) Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

The king said, “Impale him on it!”

10) So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

Apparently, Haman did not have many friends in the palace. Harbona was mentioned in Chapter 1:10. He was there when Queen Vashti was there. He knew how Esther became queen and may have known about her contact with Mordecai. He knew of Haman’s plot against Mordecai even though the king seemed to be clueless.

The story isn’t over yet. The King’s decree still is law, and it needs to be dealt with. We will continue to see how God works on behalf of his people.