The Bad Breath of Pride


Pride is like bad breath.  Everyone knows you have it except you.  And today we see through the pride of Haman that when the short game of revenge takes over our focus and sensibilities, we lose sight of purpose and reason and any chance of hearing God’s voice…

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, 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.

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. 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.

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.

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?” 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!’”

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.”
Esther 5:9-14, 6:1-4, 6-10

Pastor Brent made the statement in his sermon last week that Pride is like bad breath.  Everyone knows you have it except you.  It’s a quote that goes back at least 30 years, and I don’t know the original author.  I do know that it fits.  Too often.  The story of Haman and Mordecai provides a clear example for us.

The context is that Esther has accepted the challenge of Mordecai to go to the king to advocate on behalf of the Jews who are under an annihilation order at the hands of Haman.  Haman has it in for them because Mordecai wouldn’t bow before him.  Haman’s pride was so great that he made revenge his ultimate goal.

Just saying: when the short game of revenge takes over our focus and sensibilities, we lose sight of purpose and reason and any chance of hearing God’s voice.  Haman was filled with rage.

Haman was so distracted that he couldn’t enjoy life – he bragged about being invited to Queen Esther’s banquet, yet Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate was such an affront that Haman couldn’t stand it.  He conspired to ask the king to impale Mordecai on a pole.  That should take care of things…

Meanwhile, God kept the king from sleeping.  Remember from Esther 4:14 that even if Esther didn’t agree to help, God would still save his people.  Nothing can stop God from accomplishing his plan.  And no plan can be accomplished against God or his people without him allowing it.  God would not allow Haman to have his way.

God reminded the king of Mordecai’s allegiance to him and motivated him to want to reward Mordecai.  Nothing had been done to honour Mordecai.  Just then, Haman showed up in the court to seal Mordecai’s fate.  The resulting exchange is an artful display of the irony of God. Instead of impaling Mordecai, Haman had to lead him around on a horse through the city proclaiming that the king delights in him.  Haman thought he would receive the honour.

His pride was so great that he was blind to what was going on around him.  As Darth Vader has said, “Be careful not to choke on your ambition.”

Read the play, Haman.  Humble yourself before God and he will determine if you will be lifted up in the eyes of men.  We need to hear that, don’t we?  In a time in which so many are making the demonstration of their swag more important than humility, read the play.

You may find that God will have you honouring the person on whose toes or neck you would rather use as your foothold to a higher place…

Amen.

Marc Kinna

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