Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Watching the lowly, those who shouldn’t have a chance in the world, take on and defeat the juggernaut always delights us. Whether it’s a love story where the beastly fellow gets the girl, a legal battle in which the little company gets justice over the mega-corporation, or the beloved “Cinderella story” in basketballs’ March Madness, we all approve of the humiliation of the proud and ascendency of the humble.
Entering into Esther 6 shows us that familiar motif once again. God brings down the proud, but He elevates the humble and lowly. Even today, when Esther’s story is read at Purim in Jewish cultural traditions, the name Haman will elicit jeers and boos among the children listening to the story—the enemy would get his just desserts! If you wonder why this theme runs throughout Scripture, it’s likely because we don’t embrace it ourselves. We may root for the underdog, but in reality, we all want to be the elite, the respected, the elevated. Yet, God has ways of bringing us low at the pinnacle of our pride.
The king’s sleepless night was the provocation of the role-reversal that was about to befall Haman. Attempting to break his insomnia with some boring ledgers of “daily events” being read to him, the king stumbled (not coincidently, mind you) on the report of Mordecai’s exposure of the assassination attempt against him. It raised the question, “What’s been done to honor this man?” And here is where the proud fall, and the humble are exalted.
Pride blinds us. Haman was so sure of himself, so confident of his superiority and excellence, that when the king asked, “What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?” (Esther 6:6), the only person Haman could think about was himself. When we elevate ourselves in pride, we diminish everyone else around us, acting as if there is no one else in the world worth considering.
This is a cautionary tale for us today. It is the practical theology of Proverbs 26:27: “The one who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever rolls a stone—it will come back on him.” Humility is in short supply today, but arrogance is overwhelmingly abundant.
What would it have been like for Haman to walk Mordecai through the streets? Scripture tells us “Haman took the garment and the horse. He clothed Mordecai and paraded him through the city square, calling out before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor’” (Esther 6:11). Are you proud? You’ll find the result of your life similar to Haman’s: being humiliated while those you despise are elevated. Let the humility of Christ, who died for you, be your redemption. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time” (1Peter 5:6).