Several of these passages in our study of the book of Esther have made me reflect upon my five to six years of high-level involvement in the political realm. Though I honor those who do it as those involved in honorable service, especially those who humbly do it as serving God while serving also their fellow man (and there are such in politics), there really are a lot of troubled people in this field of endeavor. I know — no big revelation there!
I met more than a couple who were “Haman types” relative to our story in Esther — people who reveled in and found their personal meaning in life defined by where they were on the political ladder. No matter where they were or how much they had accomplished that was honorable, they were never satisfied with their place in the pecking order. They were always politicking, always positioning themselves for the next campaign and the next higher office.
It is sort of like the story of John D. Rockefeller being asked when enough money was truly enough, and he said, “Just one more dollar.” Likewise, gaining value from high position never really quite fully satisfies.
After Haman has the glory of a personal banquet with the king and queen, another banquet scheduled for the next day, along with all else that had gone well for him, we read this …
5:9 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.
Yes, yes, it’s true. There is nothing more honoring than to have a pile of sons. True greatness! The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the Persians that “Next to prowess in arms, it is the greatest proof of manly excellence to be the father of many sons. Every year the king sends rich gifts to the man who can show the largest number: for they hold that number is strength.” (At least the Persians had something right!) Haman had 10 sons (9:7-10).
Really, if you have to call together your friends and wife to have an audience to hear your recitation about how great you are, you’ve got a few issues.
Haman was happy, happy, happy … except for one thing — “that Jew, Mordecai.” And as evidence that his wife and friends were of no better character, they suggest he build a gallows that would be 75 feet high and hang Mordecai upon the king’s authority. Other translations have that it was a pole to impale a person upon as a means of execution. In any event, dead is dead; and the idea of having it high was for everyone to see and be fearful of the power that accomplished such a deed (like Roman crosses on a hill).
It is the general opinion that people of fame and acclaim have the good life. And though there are many elements that involve glamor and alleged good times, there is no shortage of stories as to how this never truly satisfies … stories of loneliness, substance abuse, depression and even suicide by those who would seem to have it all in terms of the world’s scorecard.
It is, as they say, lonely at the top. We see it throughout this story. For example, who could King Xerxes really trust?
One of the great lines of all time is this: that some folks spend their whole life climbing the ladder of success, only to get to the top and discover that it was leaning against the wrong structure.
There is no lasting success or satisfaction of the soul that can be found apart from the peace and settled confidence of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All else is a vain search that will come up empty. We just need to daily remind ourselves of this truth.