“Comeuppance” isn’t a word you hear much these days. It’s a little archaic and stodgy, but it’s so perfect for some situations. Comeuppance means someone receives the fate they deserve. That’s what today’s story is about, or at least it is in part.
The conniving, self-aggrandizing, malicious Haman is finally outed for his plot to destroy the Jews. In a carefully planned and desperate maneuver, Esther invites Haman and King Ahasuerus to a banquet. Because she finds favor with the king, he offers whatever her heart desires, and Esther’s response is not at all what Ahasuerus anticipated—not riches, not fame, not ease. “Spare my life; this is my request. And spare my people; this is my desire” (Esther 7:3).
This moment is the hinge on which the story turns. How will the king respond? He is outraged and demands to know who is perpetrating this atrocity. Esther, patient and wise, had waited to reveal this, knowing she needed the king to believe her before she played her final card. “This evil Haman,” declares the queen. And the door slams shut.
Haman is hanged, in a stroke of providential and poetic irony, on the gallows he had built to kill Mordecai. (I suppose this would be the original gallows humor.) And this, friends, is the perfect comeuppance—a satisfying end for a mastermind of genocide.
But this story is about more than good triumphing over evil and a villain getting what he deserves. Those elements of the narrative are meant to resonate with something more and draw our attention to greater themes: the justice of God, His care for His people, and His judgment of evil.
Psalm 91 describes how God is the refuge of those who trust Him and will deliver them from “the bird trap” (v.3). Revelation 20 describes God’s judgment seat where no one will be passed over and all will be judged for their actions in this life (vv.11-12). Throughout Scripture, we read that God hates sin, loves mercy, upholds justice, stands by the weak, and will never forsake His people.
The book of Esther tells the tale of a rescuing God who pulls no punches in upholding justice on behalf of His people. That is how stories are supposed to work. They draw us into events and lives where we see and feel what injustice, fear, hope, and rescue feel like. They show us evil and they show us good. And they give color and light to the lessons the rest of Scripture teaches about who God is and why we can trust Him.
Written by Barnabas Piper