The king asks Haman, ″What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?″ (Esther 6:6). Of course, big-ego Haman immediately concludes that the king wants to honour him! ″Who is there that the king would rather honour than me?″ (v. 6) he thinks.
So what does Haman suggest to the king? ″Let 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″ (Esther 6:8). If you recall how Joseph was honoured by Pharaoh (see Genesis 41:42-43), you’ll notice that what Haman asks for goes way beyond how Joseph was honoured. Joseph wears a linen garment and gold necklace, rides in the chariot of the second-in-command, and people cry out before him, ″Make way!″ In comparison, Haman asks for the king’s robes (a symbol of his royal power) and horse, and he wants a full phrase of commendation proclaimed by no less than a noble prince (Esther 6:9). Haman already has his signet ring; he might as well ask for the king’s wife for the full house! Hold on to that thought; we’ll come to it soon enough. Haman could have asked for power or wealth. Instead, what he asks for reveals what he desires the most: honour and adoration.
Part of the irony in this scene is that the king and Haman talk past each other. Thus the king’s actual command comes as a huge surprise for Haman. The king says, ″Go at once . . . Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew″ (Esther 6:10). What a shock and absolute horror for Haman! The honour is not for him but his archenemy! Even more amusing for us as readers (but more painful for Haman) is how the king’s command highlights the very features of Mordecai that eat at Haman. Haman must parade ″the Jew″ whom he wants to execute around the streets. He must call out about the man who refuses to honour him, ″This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!″ (v. 11).
Yet the irony also highlights an ugly effect of pride: it can lead to blindness. Being so full of ourselves can blind us to what is happening around. Sure, Haman had some reasons to be proud: receiving the king’s signet ring meant that he had been elevated to the equivalent of prime minister, and he had been invited to an exclusive dinner with the king and queen. But if Haman had a sliver of humility, it might have occurred to him to clarify whom the king wanted to honour. Then things might have turned out very differently.
How does Haman’s character illustrate this proverb: ″When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom″ (Proverbs 11:2)?
Read Philippians 2:1-11. How does the example of Jesus spur us to be humble and to look out for the interests of others?