We are now to attend the second banquet to which the king and
Haman were invited: and there, I. Esther presents her petition to the king for
her life and the life of her people (v. 1-4). II. She plainly tells the king
that Haman is the man who designed her ruin and the ruin of all her friends (v.
5, 6). III. The king thereupon gave orders for the hanging of Haman upon the
gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, which was done accordingly (v. 7-10).
And thus, by the destruction of the plotter, a good step was taken towards the
defeating of the plot.
The king in humour, and Haman out of humour, meet at Esther's
I. The king urged Esther, a third time, to tell him what her
request was, for he longed to know, and repeated his promise that it should be
granted, v. 2. If the king had now forgotten that Esther had an errand to him,
and had not again asked what it was, she could scarcely have known how to renew
it herself; but he was mindful of it, and now was bound with the threefold cord
of a promise thrice made to favour her.
II. Esther, at length, surprises the king with a petition, not
for wealth or honour, or the preferment of some of her friends to some high
post, which the king expected, but for the preservation of herself and her
countrymen from death and destruction, v. 3, 4.
1. Even a stranger, a criminal, shall be permitted to petition
for his life; but that a friend, a wife, should have occasion to present such a
petition was very affecting: Let my life be given me at my petition, and my
people at my request. Two things bespeak lives to be very precious, and fit
to be saved, if innocent, at any expense:(1.) Majesty. If it be a crowned
head that is struck at, it is time to stir. Esther's was such: "Let my
life be given me. If thou hast any affection for the wife of thy bosom, now
is the time to show it; for that is the life that lies at stake." (2.)
Multitude. If they be many lives, very many, and those no way forfeited, that
are aimed at, no time should be lost nor pains spared to prevent the mischief.
"It is not a friend or two, but my people, a whole nation, and a
nation dear to me, for the saving of which I now intercede."
2. To move the king the more she suggests, (1.) That she and her
people were bought and sold. They had not sold themselves by any offence against
the government, but were sold to gratify the pride and revenge of one man. (2.)
That it was not their liberty only, but their lives that were sold. "Had we
been sold" (she says) "into slavery, I would not have complained; for
in time we might have recovered our liberty, thought eh king would have made but
a bad bargain of it, and not have increased his wealth by our price. Whatever
had been paid for us, the loss of so many industrious hands out of his kingdom
would have been more damage to the treasury than the price would countervail."
To persecute good people is as impolitic as it is impious, and a manifest wrong
to the interests of princes and states; they are weakened and impoverished by
it. But this was not the case. We are sold (says she) to be destroyed,
to be slain, and to perish; and then it is time to speak. She refers to the
words of the decree (ch. 3:13), which aimed at nothing short of their
destruction; this would touch in a tender part if there were any such in the
king's heart, and would bring him to relent.
III. The king stands amazed at the remonstrance, and asks (v. 5)
"Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
What! contrive the murder of the queen and all her friends? Is there such a man,
such a monster rather, in nature? Who is he, and where is he, whose heart has
filled him to do so?" Or, Who hath filled his heart. He wonders,
1. That any one should be so bad as to think such a thing; Satan certainly
filled his heart. 2. That any one should be so bold as to do such a thing,
should have his heart so fully set in him to do wickedly, should be so very
daring. Note, (1.) It is hard to imagine that there should be such horrid
wickedness committed in the world as really there is. Who, where is he, that
dares, presumes, to question the being of God and his providence, to banter his
oracles, profane his name, persecute his people, and yet bid defiance to his
wrath? Such there are, to think of whom is enough to make horror take hold of
us, Ps. 119:53. (2.) We sometimes startle at the mention of that evil which
yet we ourselves are chargeable with. Ahasuerus is amazed at that wickedness
which he himself is guilty of; for he consented to that bloody edict against the
Jews. Thou art the man, might Esther too truly have said.
IV. Esther plainly charged Haman with it before his face:
"Here he is, let him speak for himself, for therefore he is invited: The
adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman (v. 6); it is he that has designed
our murder, and, which is worse, has basely drawn the king in to be particeps
criminisa partaker of his crime, ignorantly agreeing to it."
V. Haman is soon apprehensive of his danger: He was afraid
before the king and queen; and it was time for him to fear when the queen
was his prosecutor, the king his judge, and his own conscience a witness against
him; and the surprising operations of Providence against him that same morning
could not but increase his fear. Now he has little joy of his being invited to
the banquet of wine, but finds himself in straits when he thought himself in
the fulness of his sufficiency. He is cast into a net by his own feet.
Here, I. The king retires in anger. He rose from table in a
great passion, and went into the palace garden to cool himself and to
consider what was to be done, v. 7. He sent not for his seven wise
counsellors who knew the times, being ashamed to consult them about the
undoing of that which he had rashly done without their knowledge or advice; but
he went to walk in the garden awhile, to compare in his thoughts what Esther had
now informed him of with what had formerly passed between him and Haman. And we
may suppose him, 1. Vexed at himself, that he should be such a fool as to doom a
guiltless nation to destruction, and his own queen among the rest, upon the base
suggestions of a self-seeking man, without examining the truth of his
allegations. Those that do things with self-will reflect upon them afterwards
with self-reproach. 2. Vexed at Haman whom he had laid in his bosom, that he
should be such a villain as to abuse his interest in him to draw him to consent
to so wicked a measure. When he saw himself betrayed by one he had caressed he
was full of indignation at him; yet he would say nothing till he had taken time
for second thoughts, to see whether they would make the matter better or worse
than it first appeared, that he might proceed accordingly. When we are angry we
should pause awhile before we come to any resolution, as those that have a
rule over our own spirits and are governed by reason.
II. Haman becomes a humble petitioner to the queen for his life.
He might easily perceived by the king's hastily flying out of the room that there
was evil determined against him. For the wrath of a king, such a
king, is as the roaring of a lion and as messengers of death; and
now see, 1. How mean Haman looks, when he stands up first and then falls down at
Esther's feet, to beg she would save his life and take all he had. Those that
are most haughty, insolent, and imperious, when they are in power and
prosperity, are commonly the most abject and poor-spirited when the wheel turns
upon them. Cowards, they say, are most cruel, and then consciousness of their
cruelty makes them the more cowardly. 2. How great Esther looks, who of late had
been neglected and doomed to the slaughter tanquam ovisas a sheep; now
her sworn enemy owns that he lies at her mercy, a d begs his life at her hand.
Thus did God regard the low estate of his handmaiden and scatter the
proud in the imagination of their hearts, Lu. 1:48, 51. Compare with this
that promise made to the Philadelphian church (Rev. 3:9), I will make those
of the synagogue of Satan to come and to worship before thy feet and to know
that I have loved thee. The day is coming when those that hate and persecute
God's chosen ones would gladly be beholden to them. Give us of your oil.
Father Abraham, send Lazarus. The upright shall have dominion in the morning.
III. The king returns yet more exasperated against Haman. The
more he thinks of him the worse he thinks of him and of what he had done. It was
but lately that every thing Haman said and did, even that which was most
criminal, was taken well and construed to his advantage; now, on the contrary,
what Haman did that was not only innocent, but a sign of repentance, is ill
taken, and, without colour of reason, construed to his disadvantage. He lay in
terror at Esther's feet, to beg for his life. What! (says the king) will he
force the queen also before me in the house? Not that he thought he had any
such intention, but having been musing on Haman's design to slay the queen,
and finding him in this posture, he takes occasion from it thus to vent his
passion against Haman, as a man that would not scruple at the greatest and most
impudent piece of wickedness. "He designed to slay the queen, and to slay
her wish me in the house; will he in like manner force her? What! ravish
her first and then murder her? He that had a design upon her life may well be
suspected to have a design upon her chastity."
IV. Those about him were ready to be the instruments of his
wrath. The courtiers that adored Haman when he was the rising sun set themselves
as much against him now that he is a falling star, and are even glad of an
occasion to run him down: so little sure can proud men be of the interest they
think they have. 1. As soon as the king spoke an angry word they covered
Haman's face, as a condemned man, not worthy any more either to see the
king or to be seen by him; they marked him for execution. Those that are hanged
commonly have their faces covered. See how ready the servants were to take the
first hint of the king's mind in this matter. Turba Romae sequitur fortunam,
et semper et odit damnatosThe Roman populace change as the aspects of fortune
do, and always oppress the fallen. If Haman be going down, they all cry,
"Down with him." 2. One of those that had been lately sent to Haman's
house, to fetch him to the banquet, informed the king of the gallows which Haman
had prepared for Mordecai, v. 9. Now that Mordecai is the favourite the
chamberlain applauds himhe spoke good for the king; and, Haman being
in disgrace, every thing is taken notice of that might make against him, incense
the king against him, and fill up the measure of his iniquity.
V. The king gave orders that he should be hanged upon his own
gallows, which was done accordingly, nor was he so much as asked what he had to
say why this judgment should not be passed upon him and execution awarded. The
sentence is shortHang him thereon; and the execution speedySo
they hanged Haman on the gallows, v. 10. See here, 1. Pride brought down. He
that expected every one to do him homage is now made an ignominious spectacle to
the world, and he himself sacrificed to his revenge. God resists the proud; and
those whom he resists will find him irresistible. 2. Persecution punished. Haman
was upon many accounts a wicked man, but his enmity to God's church was his
most provoking crime, and for that the God to whom vengeance belongs here
reckons with him, and, though his plot was defeated, gives him according to
the wickedness of his endeavours, Ps. 28:4. 3. Mischief returned upon the
person himself that contrived it, the wicked snared in the work of his own
hands, Ps. 7:15, 16; 9:15, 16. Haman was justly hanged on the very gallows
he had unjustly prepared for Mordecai. If he had not set up that gallows,
perhaps the king would not have thought of ordering him to be hanged; but, if he
rear a gallows for the man whom the king delights to honour, the thought
is very natural that he should be ordered to try it himself, and see how it fits
him, see how he likes it. The enemies of God's church have often been thus
taken in their own craftiness. In the morning Haman was designing himself for
the robes and Mordecai for the gallows; but the tables are turned: Mordecai has
the crown, Haman the cross. The Lord is known by such judgments. See Prov.
Lastly, The satisfaction which the king had in this
execution. Then was the king's wrath pacified, and not till then. He
was as well pleased in ordering Haman to be hanged as in ordering Mordecai to be
honoured. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to take
vengeance on. God saith of wicked men (Eze. 5:13), I will cause my fury to
rest upon them, and I will be comforted.