PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL
Lord, keep me straight and humble.
Read ESTHER 5:9–14
Haman’s Rage Against Mordecai
9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits,[a] and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.
a Esther 5:14 That is, about 75 feet or about 23 meters
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people” (Psa. 62:7,8).
As with everything else in Esther, no editorial comment appears here: readers are left to draw their own conclusions. The portraits of the different characters are superbly drawn. It is worth reading through the depiction of both the king and Haman; they provide clear illustrations of how leadership ought not to be! In this section Haman’s ongoing fury at Mordecai sits alongside his prideful boasting. Even his own sense of self-importance in his “I am the greatest” speech is not enough to set aside his anger. Everyone must acknowledge his grandeur or be punished! The Greeks would have called this attitude “hubris.” They would have seen it as challenging the gods and be expecting the inevitable downfall that follows. What is also clear in verse 14 is that his wife and friends are co-conspirators in enforcing Haman’s claim to supremacy.
The rest of Scripture affirms God’s sovereignty, and makes abundantly clear that elevating oneself in a proud way is completely inadvisable. The downfall of those who take this attitude is often pictured. Nebuchadnezzar and Herod stand as two notable examples (Dan. 4; Acts 12:19–23). This chapter issues a clear warning to all leaders that leadership is always about service, not about status and being honored by everyone around. What Haman needs is friends and family who would dare to question his hubris, not back it up! Paul’s warning in Romans does that for us: “…do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Rom. 12:3). Jesus told us to pray that God’s “holy name be honored” (Matt. 6:9, GNB). If we hear ourselves or others talking about “getting the respect (or honor) we deserve” then be forewarned: one’s downfall might be not far ahead.
Consider this: “There is nothing wrong in taking delight in the things God has enabled us to achieve. There is everything wrong in thinking we deserve all the credit.”
Lord, thank You for illustrating to all interested parties just where pride and arrogance lead. Keep us free from an overly inflated estimation of ourselves.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.