Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Persuasive Presentation

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think sometimes the way we approach people in leadership explains why they don’t respond in positive ways, because we don’t give them a chance to breathe. We don’t give them a chance to think.

It’s the same as you when your children come to you if they’re attacking you. They say, “I don’t agree with your decision. You shouldn’t have made that decision. I don’t have to do that.” Is that going to make you want to reconsider your decision? Hardly.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, June 19.

Here’s a definition of frustration: You expect certain things to happen, but they don’t. You know what that’s like.

Today we’ll take a look at God’s ability to frustrate the cruel plans of Haman, one of the characters we’ve gotten to know in our current series Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Let’s back up for a moment. In the last session we saw that the king couldn’t sleep, so he read the chronicles. He realized that five years earlier Mordecai had saved his life, but nothing had ever been done to honor him.

So he says, “Who’s in the court?” He wants to find out what can be done to honor this man.

Haman happens to be standing out in the court at the crack of dawn. It’s providence (we saw that), because Haman has just built a gallows on which he wants to impale Mordecai. He’s coming to ask the king to give him permission to do that.

Haman’s agenda and the king’s agenda are very different at this time. But God is the One who is in control of the timing.

So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” (Esther 6:6).

Now, we’ve seen the pride of Haman. We’ve seen its evidences. We’ve seen how it comes out in anger, insecurity, namedropping, and boasting of his accomplishments and achievements.

He is an arrogant man, so it’s just consistent with his character that he would think, “The king wants to honor someone. I’m number two man in the land. Who else would he honor more than me?”

He’s proud, and he ends up making a fool of himself. That’s what proud people do. Pride ends up making us do foolish things.

And Haman [thinking that the king wants to honor him] said to the king,

For the man whom the king delights to honor [of course, that’s me], let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor [of course, that’s me], and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor [of course, that’s me]” (verses 7-9).

Now, commoners usually rode on donkeys. Only rich men and nobles rode horses. We have to wonder if Haman’s desire to ride the king’s horse was actually a subtle bid for the throne. I think it’s very likely that Haman wanted to be king, and he was just seeing this as another step in his advancement.

I think he wanted to be perceived by the people as the heir apparent. “This is the man whom the king delights to honor.”

The king, in fact, was assassinated ten years later. So he was going to be replaced; and I think Haman just thought, “When the king is out of the picture, this will put me in a position to be the king.”

What do we have here? Selfish ambition. That’s what it is, pure and simple. Well, it’s not pure, but it’s selfish ambition.

So, verse 10, "Then the king said to Haman . . .” You know, sometimes when we know these stories, we read them without a sense of amazement. But that’s why it helps to go back and dig into the Scripture and read it and say, “God, give me fresh eyes to see this.” Put yourself in this situation, in Haman’s shoes at this moment.

The king said to Haman,

Hurry. Take the robes and the horse, as you have said [great idea], and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned” (verse 10).

Can you imagine what happens to Haman at that moment? I mean, why was he even at the palace at that moment? Because he’s coming to say, “Hang Mordecai.” And the king says, “Hurry and honor Mordecai.”

I mean, if it weren’t tragic, it would be funny. It’s not funny, because it’s amazing. It’s God providence at work.

So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor” (verse 11).

Is it true that those who exalt themselves will be humbled? “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Is it true?

It is true. And a reminder we see here, that everything you have ever done for the glory of God will one day be rewarded. It will be. Let God choose when and how the reward will come.

Mordecai gets his reward five years after the good deed is done. Ladies—I know we said this earlier in the series, but just a reminder—there is probably no more thankless a task than being a wife and a mom, being a keeper at home.

So many of the things you do day in and day out, faithfully, to serve your mate, to serve your children, to bless them, some of you homeschooling your kids. You’re not seeing the rewards now. But you will. You will. Humble yourself. God will exalt you in due time.

Proverbs 18:12 [KJV] tells us, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty . . .” Who does that sound like in this passage? Haughty Haman. But “. . . before honor is humility.” Who does that sound like? That’s Mordecai.

Mordecai, who has steadfastly humbled himself, now begins to be exalted by God. And Haman, who has craved recognition and applause, begins to move down a slippery slope toward humiliation and destruction. Haman’s pride becomes his own undoing.

He thinks to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” And in this blind self-absorption, he himself actually sets in motion the circumstances that will lead to his own destruction. He also sets in motion, unwittingly, in God’s providence, the means by which those he has trodden underfoot and despised will be exalted.

So verse 12 tells us, “Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.” Very simple statement. There’s no evidence that Mordecai gloated over what had happened. He just returned to his place to do his job, which was what? Serving the king. He went back to what he had been doing all along.

“But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered” (verse 12). He is embarrassed. He’s ashamed.

Of course people knew that Haman hated Mordecai. And he has been just publicly humiliated. Everything has gone exactly the opposite.

When he left his house early that morning, he thought he’d come home and Mordecai would be hanging on those gallows by nightfall. Now Haman comes back to his house; his head is covered; he’s ashamed.

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

That’s an interesting phrase, if you think about it. Haman is not taking responsibility for his troubles. He focuses instead on “what happened to me, what others did to me.” He saw himself, I think, as a victim of his circumstances.

Let me say—and I want to say it carefully, because it’s not always the case—but often when people feel depressed or ashamed, as Haman did in this situation, there’s a tendency to feel that they are a victim. So they tell everyone, as Haman did. He told his wife and all his friends “everything that had happened to him.”

They tell others. “Do you know what happened to me? Do you know what my husband did to me? Do you know what my ex-husband did? Can you believe what he did to my kids? Can you believe what my mother-in-law did to me? Can you believe what my boss did to me?”

They’re always blaming other people. They’re free to speak, free to tell. “This is what happened to me,” as if they have no responsibility for “what happened to me.”

Now, I hope I’m not reading too much into the text, but I think it’s consistent with Haman’s character that he was thinking this way. You know, we can always get someone else to listen to us tell our sob story.

I don’t mean to be unkind, but it’s very easy for us to always be telling our sob story to anybody who will listen. I’m not saying that the circumstances in your life are not hard. But sometimes the hard things in our lives are really just the consequences of our own choices.

We get into a situation that was out of God’s will. We make a foolish choice. We act in pride.

You get into a marriage where you’re not biblically free to marry, or you marry against the counsel and blessing of your parents. You make a choice to take a job that isn’t in the will of God for you to take.

Then your life ends up in a mess, and you want everybody to sympathize, when maybe what you need to say is, “These negative things that I’m experiencing, could they possibly be consequences of something wrong in me? My pride? My foolishness? My wrong choices?”

Haman would have been better off doing that at this point. But instead he just goes and tells what has happened to him. He’s the victim of circumstances, so he feels.

Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him” (verse 13).

Here Zeresh takes on a fatalistic attitude. She doesn’t understand divine providence.

Now, what could Zeresh have done at this point? She could have encouraged Haman to humble himself, to take responsibility, to repent. And the story might have ended differently.

But she did recognize, as did his other counselors, that ultimately no one can destroy God’s people. “You will not be able to overcome him.” And about that she was right.

While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared (verse 14).

Chapter 7, verse 1: "So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.” This is, by the way, the sixth banquet in the book of Esther. They liked feasting. And it’s amazing some of the things that happened around those feasts.

And on the second day [this is the second feast], as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted to you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered . . . (verses 1-3).

Now, this is the third time the king has said to her, “What do you want?” And not until the third time, even though she’s had this wide-open door . . . she doesn’t until this moment say what it is that she wants.

Remember, God has been orchestrating circumstances. If she had said it earlier, things would not have all been in place to turn out as it did.

So she has been wise; even though she doesn’t know what God has been orchestrating, she’s been wise in following God’s leading. And finally, now is the time.

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” (verses 3-4).

By the way, that wording is almost identical to the wording in Haman’s edict, that the Jews could be destroyed, killed, and annihilated on that day in the month of Adar, eleven months out. So she quotes from that edict so the king will know exactly what she’s talking about. She 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 (verse 4).

Now, let’s talk for a few moments about her appeal to the king—how she does it and what’s so wise about it.

First of all, as you read this passage, it seems that in spite of her dire situation and circumstances, in spite of the fact that this is an emergency,

  • Esther does not fall apart.
  • She does not act like a shrew.
  • She does not bark out orders to the king.
  • She has her wits about her. She’s together.
  • She’s not being this crazy woman who’s hysterical.
  • She’s very controlled.

She’s under the control of God, and she’s wise in how she approaches him. She appeals humbly to the king. “If I have found favor in your sight. If it please the king.” She’s not going in demanding her rights. She speaks respectfully to the king.

She shows proper respect for his position: “O king.” This is her husband, but he is also the king.

So she speaks respectfully, knowing that men need to be respected. And she knows that if he feels respected, he’s more likely to honor the request and the appeal she makes to him.

She could have said, “You nincompoop! I can’t believe you signed this thing without checking into what it was about!” I mean, just imagine how we might have handled a similar situation. The wording and our attitude and demeanor might have been really like a wild woman.

Then she makes a request, a specific request: “Let my life be granted me, and let my people’s lives be granted.” Notice that she doesn’t attack Haman initially. Instead, she appeals to the fact that her life is in danger, because the king has shown her favor; he obviously cares for her, and she knew this was something that would matter to him.

If she just went in attacking his number two guy, you can see that the king might have picked up an offense for Haman. “Don’t you attack my Prime Minister!” Instead, she appeals on the basis of the fact that her life is in danger, thinking that that will be a motivation to the king. And she’s right.

She puts her request in terms of the king’s loss rather than her own. She focuses on his best interests. This is a wise woman. And keep in mind, she was probably a teenage girl; not much older than that, maybe in her early twenties. She’s a young woman who’s got a lot of wisdom.

She doesn’t throw accusations at the king. Instead she makes this humble, respectful, specific request.

Now, you might ask yourself as you read this passage: How do I appeal to an authority in a crisis? Is that what my attitude is like? Am I humble? Am I respectful?

When I disagree with my husband, when I disagree with my boss, when I disagree with the spiritual leadership in my church and I go:

  • Is my appeal humble?
  • Is it respectful?
  • Do I make a specific request?

Do I think how I might put this in terms of what would be of concern to them? Or do I just go in and say, “This is what you did,” throw my accusations, and not give them a chance to catch their breath and collect their thoughts and think about it?

I think sometimes the way we approach people in leadership explains why they don’t respond in positive ways, because we don’t give them a chance to breathe. We don’t give them a chance to think.

If they feel attacked . . . it’s the same as you when your children come to you, if they’re attacking you. They say, “I don’t agree with your decision. You shouldn’t have made that decision. I don’t have to do that.” Is that going to make you want to reconsider your decision? Hardly.

But if your kids approach you in a way that is humble and respectful and specific, chances are that after they pick you up off the floor, you’re going to be willing to reconsider what it is you’ve done.

Well, verse 5:

Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!”

She finally exposes Haman. Now that she has the king’s attention, now that he is seeing things from her perspective, she says, “This is what Haman has done.” She exposed Haman to be what he really was, something the king had not seen to that point.

“Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen” (verse 5). All of a sudden Haman realizes, “I am in big-time trouble.” He realizes he is doomed. He’s terrified.

Let me just say that the wicked don’t realize it yet, but one day their party will be over. They will have to give an account to the almighty, holy God, whom they have ignored, whom they have opposed, and whose ways they have rejected. When they hear the guilty verdict and they face God’s final wrath and judgment, they will be terrified. It’s true.

Haman came into this party smiling, having a feast, having a happy time, thinking he’s being honored by the king. Then he finds out the party’s over, and he is terrified. And that’s the way it will always be at the end with the wicked.

All of a sudden the king realizes what he has done. He has impetuously signed his queen’s death warrant, and he’s furious now at Haman, who “made him do it.” So, verse 7:

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.

He knew this king. He knew what he was like.

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 (verse 8).

What word does that make you think? Providence. God’s timing, God’s orchestration.

I think Haman was just pleading with Esther to have mercy on him, to spare his life. But as he walked in and saw this scene, “The king said, ‘Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?’” (verse 8).

Now, whether the king really believed that Haman was assaulting Esther or not—I think maybe not—regardless, the scene provided the excuse Xerxes needed to sign the death penalty for Haman, to get rid of him. So,

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” (verses 8-10).

I mean, just one more thing! This man who saved your life . . . Haman has built a gallows; not only has he signed your queen’s death sentence, but he’s also built a gallows to hang this loyal servant on. The king has had it. He says,

“Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated (verse 10).

Now, we have here just a little picture of the fact, and it’s all the way through the Scripture, that every enemy of God and His people will ultimately be destroyed. It’s the law of divine retribution. They will get their just deserts. They will get their due.

Listen to this passage from Psalm 7, and see if you don’t think it describes what we’ve been reading about here in Esther:

The wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends (verses 14-16).

That’s God’s way. And that’s exactly what Haman is experiencing here.

Second Samuel 3:39 says it this way: “The Lord [shall] repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!”

Proverbs 22:8 (NIV) says, “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble.”

It’s the law of sowing and reaping. If you sow bitterness and anger and cruelty and harshness and selfishness, that’s what you’ll reap.

Those, on the other hand, who sow mercy and kindness and goodness, in time, in their turn, will reap what they have sown.

Now, we’re tempted to look at things as they are in our world where the wicked seem to flourish . . . many times the wicked seem to be prevailing, and the godly often seem to be downtrodden. They seem to be overcome by the wicked.

Sometimes when you look at things as they are now, you can despair about the final outcome. Don’t make the mistake of believing that the way things are now is the way they will always be. The fact is, God is still on His throne.

In His time He will right all wrongs. He will vindicate those who are His. He will reveal His glory on this earth. He will lift up the righteous. He will exercise judgment on those who oppose Him and His ways.

The hymn writer put it this way:

This is my Father’s world;
and let us ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world;
The battle is not done.
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one.1

Leslie: This is your Father’s world. So many corporations, governments, and groups may lay claims on parts of this globe, but it truly belongs to the One who created it. The book of Esther will remind you of that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been teaching through the book in a helpful series called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time. This series will help your faith to grow. It will prepare you for the type of difficulties Esther navigated.

I hope you’ll get to know Esther better through Nancy’s teaching. You can hear past broadcasts at our website. Better than that, order the teaching on CD or mp3. When you do, you’ll get longer versions of Nancy’s messages, and you can take the audio with you wherever you go.

As you’re listening, you might also want to get the Revive Our Hearts study guide. It’s called Esther: The Exile Queen. If your quiet time has been a little dry lately, why not spend some time studying this exciting story about God’s providence?

Ask for Esther: The Exile Queen when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts by calling 800-569-5959, or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com. You can order the CD series at the same time.

You’ve heard about The Odd Couple. Tomorrow we’ll look at some people who were as different from each other as they possibly could be. You can decide which is more like you.

Here’s Nancy to lead us in prayer.

Nancy: O Father, how we look to the day when Your kingdom will come and Your will will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Help us this day to sow seeds of righteousness and to trust You that in due time we will be rewarded.

Remind us, when it seems that the wicked are prevailing, that their day is coming, that You will judge the wicked. And Lord, in the meantime You are longsuffering . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

So thank You for this space You’ve given for the wicked to repent. May it be so, O God, for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1"This is My Father's World." Maltbie Babcock.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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