Bible Esther

Haman: Human Control or Heavenly Control

Is there someone that you love to hate? A person that no matter what he does, says, or how he acts, you struggle to be kind to him? You just hate everything he does because everything he does is from envy, jealousy, and pride? Well, Haman is that man! As you will see today in this blog post, Haman[ref]Haman was the “most powerful official in the empire” (Esth 3:1)[/ref] is a man you can easily love to hate. Yet, there are some good principles you can learn from his life and apply to your life as a Christian.

Haman: Human Control or Heavenly Control?Photo Credit: “Haman Recognizes His Fate” by Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Human Control or Heavenly Control?
(Esther 3-7)


All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect. Then the palace officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you disobeying the king’s command?” They spoke to him day after day, but still he refused to comply with the order. So they spoke to Haman about this to see if he would tolerate Mordecai’s conduct, since Mordecai had told them he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. (Esther 3:2–6, NLT)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation[/ref]

A. God’s People Are Supposed to Live Differently than the Culture Around Them

Do our lives as Christians look any different than non-Christian lives? God’s Word tell us that his will for our lives is to live differently than the culture around us.

1. God’s Message to Israel and To Us Is to Be Holy and Unique

To Israel

This was what was originally told to the nation of Israel,

And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

God wanted his people to be morally pure and completely dedicated to him. God gave them these laws to set them apart from everyone else. This is one of the reasons Nehemiah built the walls around the city of Jerusalem. God wanted his people to be seperate and unique.

To Everyone

This is also for us gentiles now,

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

2. Reasons Why Mordecai Didn’t Bow to Haman

Mordecai was one of the officials of the kingdom, but he did not bow to Haman. (And this must have been clear to everyone, because when they bowed down the only one standing was Mordecai!) God’s law to the Jews was clear: they were not to bow to any god or idol but to God himself (Exod 20:4-6).[ref]But, there are examples of bowing to others in the Bible in Gen 23:7; 33:3, 6-7; 42:6; 1 Sam 24:8; 2 Sam 14:4; 18:28. These examples seem to be a bow to someone in respect to him without any hint that the bow was to indicate he was a God or deity of any kind. Yet in the Bible we see people that made a stand and refused to bow down. Daniel and his three friends refused to bow down before the image (Dan 3).[/ref]

There are three possible reasons Mordecai refused to bow before Haman.

  1. One possible reason is that Haman might have claimed some type of divinity or divine honors (as the Persian kings often did), and in doing so it violated Mordecai’s commitment to bow only to God (Exod 20:4-6; Ryrie Study Bible, NASB, p. 584).
  2. Another reason might be that Haman was an Amalekite and God had told the Iraelites to wipe out the Amalakites. Therefore Mordecai was being loyal to the original instructions of God.
  3. A less likely reason was that Mordecai knew that Haman was a partner in a plot to kill the king so Haman did not deserve honor (Apocryphal edition to Esth 2:21).

3. Forgive and Don’t Hold Grudges

Haman likely still had a grudge against the Jews based on God’s declaration to wipe the Amalekites off the earth (Exod 17:8-16; Deut 25:17-19; 1 Samuel 15:1-3; 2 Sam 1:1-10).[ref]See Wiersbe, Be Committed, p. 108[/ref]. Haman was an “Agagite” which might mean that he descended from Agag, the king of the Amalakites.

Haman wants to wipe out the Jews just as the Jews had been told to wipe out the Amalekites.

B. God’s People Are Supposed to Look for the Messiah and Be Ready for Satan’s Attacks

Messiah means “promised one” or “expected one” or “deliverer”

1. Promises of the Messiah

If Haman knew God’s Word he would not have tried to kill all the Jews. But he didn’t know God’s Word. (He was focused on the human control of things and didn’t acknowledge heavenly control.) God spoke to Satan saying, 

And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15, emphasis added)

Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of the good news about Jesus Christ-the Messiah-the one who would conquer Satan and redeem lost unsaved people. It is through the “offspring” of the woman that the Messiah would be born. And he would fight and battle the “offspring” of Satan.

Genesis 3:15 is further clarified when God tells Abram that the Messiah would come through his family (the nation of Israel). 

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3, emphasis added)

And, as Christians now we have the benefit of Paul helping us understand how the Messiah would come through the nation of Israel (Abraham’s family) when Paul wrote to the Galatians,

The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith”. . . “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith”. . .  “God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.” (Galatians 3:7-9, 14, 16, emphasis added)

There was a promise of a future Messiah-a deliverer-that would save people.

2. Battles Against Satan

In these verses I have read to you above there is a common theme. That common theme is that God will bless the people who bless the Jews, and he will curse those who curse the Jews. “We have only to turn back the pages of history to find that the Jew has attended the funeral of every one of the nations that tried to exterminate them” (McGee, Esther, p. 201).

2 Corinthians 4:4 says that Satan is the God of this world and that he actively works. And in Ephesians Paul shares how Christians need to battle Satan.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)


“When little men cast long shadows, it is a sign that the sun is setting” (Walter Savage [1775-1864], British essayist).

A. When Frustrated, Gather Godly Family and Friends to Strengthen You and Give You Wise Counsel

We see both Haman and Esther gather family and friends in our story.

1. Haman Gathers His Family and Friends

Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious. However, he restrained himself and went on home. Then Haman gathered together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, . . . Then he added, “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.” So Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and all his friends suggested, “Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it. When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.” This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up. (Esther 5:9-10, 13–14)

Haman is frustrated with Mordecai so he goes to his family and friends to talk about it. They tell him to impale Mordecai. But then later they tell him that it won’t work (Esth 6:13). They offer their advice but no help. They aren’t willing to stick their necks out for him.

2. Mordecai and Esther Gather Their Family Family and Friends

Mordecai and Esther.

Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” (Esther 4:13–16)

Esther and the King.

On the third day of the fast, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her and held out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter. Then the king asked her, “What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!” And Esther replied, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet I have prepared for the king.” (Esther 5:1–4)

B. When Faced with a Tough Decision, Stand Your Ground with God on Your Side

Mordecai and Esther had an uphill battle because the law of the Medes and Persians couldn’t be altered (Esth 1:19; 8:8; Dan 6:8). So Mordecai and Esther have a tough battle ahead of them.

Chuck Swindoll says, “There will always be someone who will resent your devotion to the Lord. Expect it. If you don’t, you will allow your will to be weakened. I’ve seen it in the military. I’ve seen it in neighborhoods. I’ve seen it in ministry. I’ve certainly seen it in the business world.”[ref]Chuck Swindoll, Esther: A Woman of Strength and Dignity (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1997), p. 70.[/ref]

We saw this in Esth 5:9 when Haman has issued the decree to have the Jews killed, but Mordecai still doesn’t bow down before Haman.


Throughout this story Haman has been focused on the public respect given to him. For Haman his entire life was wrapped up in the public honor of him by others, whether by the king or others below him. He was consumed with getting public honor and respect. But, this deep desire causes him issues.

A. Righteous People Have Right Control of Their Emotions

Throughout the story we have seen Haman’s lack of control of his emotions.

“When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage.” (Esther 3:5)

“Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious.” (Esther 5:9)

“You can always tell the size of a man by the things that irritate him. If little things irritate him, he is a little man. If it takes big things to irritate him, he is a big man” (McGee, Esther, p. 222). Haman was a little man and let little things irritate him.

1. The Source of Haman’s Lack of Emotional Control

When your life revolves around you, you get angry about things which you cannot control. And Haman’s life revolved around him because of his pride and selfishness. William Barclay says that “pride is the ground in which all other sins grow, and the parent from which all other sins come.” Pride is the only disease which makes everyone sick except the person that has it.

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Pride is what led Satan to be rejected in heaven. Notice the “I will” statements of pride in these two verses. 

“For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:13–14)

“Pride blinds people to what they really are and makes them insist on having what they don’t deserve” (Wiersbe, Be Committed, p. 110). Haman was prideful and wanted to be honored, even though he hadn’t really done anything that would indicate respect should be showed to him. “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)

2. The Christian’s Response

Christians are cautious and should not be prideful. They should not have that prideful attitude because as the Puritan preacher William Jenkyn said, “Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, and our great-grandfather nothing.” Christian respond correctly in difficult situations and when they might struggle with emotions.

First, we make allowance for others shortcomings and we forgive others.

Paul told the believers in Ephesus,

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. . .Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:3, 32)

Second, we treat our enemies with kindness.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. . . Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. . . Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:14, 16-19, 21)

Righteous people have right control of their emotions because they know God is in control, not themselves.

B. Righteous Living Means Others Will Slander Us and Misrepresent What We Do (or what we say)

1. Outside the Christian Community

We see this throughout the story, in fact at the very beginning as Haman is introduced into the story in Esther 3. Haman becomes the most powerful official in the empire under king Xerxes (Esth 3:1) and everyone would bow before Haman except for Mordecai (Esth 3:2). When Haman finds out that Mordecai is Jewish, Haman approaches the king to get permission to hurt Mordecai and all of the Jews everywhere (Esth 3:7-11). When Haman approaches the king to talk to him about Mordecai he says,

Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. (Esther 3:8)

Haman is taking a simple thing that Mordecai did and expanding it and exaggerating it. Mordecai is serving in the government in some capacity, therefore he seems loyal to the king. In fact, we learn in Esth 2:21-23 that Mordecai heard about two men who had make a plan to assassinate the king, so Mordecai told queen Esther, and she then told the proper people and the two men were prevented from killing the king. Clearly Mordecai was loyal to the king! Yet, Haman makes it sound like Mordecai is the arch enemy of the king.

2. Inside the Church Christian Community

Sadly, sometimes slander and misrepresentation come from inside the church or Christian community.

Slander and misrepresentation of what we do is something that Paul had to deal with and is what he talked about in 2 Corinthians 10-13. Paul had to tell the people he was writing to that the things that were being said about him weren’t true. People said that he:

  • was timid (2 Cor 10:1)
  • was not a good teacher (2 Cor 11:5-6)
  • was not even an apostle (2 Cor 12:11-12)
  • took advantage of them (2 Cor12:16-18)


This is a part of the story of Human that I have not yet shared in this blog post.

Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.” “Who would do such a thing?” King Xerxes demanded. “Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you?” Esther replied, “This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.” Haman grew pale with fright before the king and queen. Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden. Haman, however, stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther, for he knew that the king intended to kill him. In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king was returning from the palace garden. The king exclaimed, “Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?” And as soon as the king spoke, his attendants covered Haman’s face, signaling his doom. Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.” “Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided. (Esther 7:3–10)

A. Human Plans Cannot Stop God’s Promises

Haman worked hard to get his plans put in motion. He had to get the king’s approval (Esth 3:8-9), he had to get the king’s signet ring (Esth 3:10), he had to have the kings secretaries write out the decree (Esth 3:12), he had to have it translated into many different languages (Esth 3:12), then it had to be sent out to the king’s highest officials, governors of provinces, and nobles (Esth 3:12-13). Yet despite all of that hard work of Haman’s wicked plans, it could not win against God’s plans.

God had promised that he would bless the world through the nation of Israel. That was the heavenly plan and when the heavenly plan conflicts with the human plan, the heavenly plan wins.

B. Human Promotion Cannot Replace God’s Providence

“When God calls the shots, nobody can stop the action” (Chuck Swindoll, Esther, p. 16)

Haman had as much power as anyone. The text stays that he was the “most powerful official in the empire” (Esth 3:1). Yet, his plans were not powerful enough to overcome God’s providence in protecting his people. I proverb I like says, “We may throw dice, but the LORD determines how they fall” (Prov 16:33).

There is a long series of things that happen where we can see God’s hand in the process of this situation.

  • Esther, a Jew, happens to become queen (Esth 2:17).
  • When the lots were cast (Esth 3:7) the month that was determined was almost a year later. This gave time for Haman’s plot to be discovered and stopped.
  • Esther entered the king’s presence and he accepted her (even though it was against the Law Esth 4:16) to hear what she wanted to say (Esth 5:1-2).
  • Esther asked for a private dinner with the king and Haman and the king agrees (Esth 5:3-5).
  • When Esther got a little bit of cold feet at the dinner, she asks if they can come back for another dinner the next day, and the king agrees (Esth 5:7-8).
  • The night of that very first dinner, the king had trouble sleeping (Esth 6:1), which was the reason that he asked to have some of the books of history read to him. As it happened, the servant that the king asked to get the books happened to grab the book that included the story of how Mordecai had saved the kings life. And the servant just happened to read that section of the book (Esth 6:2).
  • When the king found out that nothing had been done to reward the Mordecai (Esth 6:3), Haman happens to show up in the outer court at that time (Esth 6:4-6) which eventually led to Haman’s humiliation and a sign of his future doom (Esth 6:12-14).

One Bible commentary says that “here are just too many unusual coincidences here to believe that it all happened by chance” (Smith, “Esther” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, p. 265). And I agree!


Sharing the story of Haman reminds me of the series of books, The Chronicles of Narnia. More specifically, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. There is a witch who takes over Narnia. These children go through the wardrobe and discover Narnia. Edmond gives allegiance to the witch and she claims him as her own. But the other three children go to Aslan, the lion. And they go and rescue Edmond from the witch. But when the witch arrives to see Aslan and the four children, she says that Edmond belongs to her. So the witch and Aslan talk and come to an agreement. That very night, some of the kids hear some noises so they walk toward the noise and they see the witch and the witch kills the lion, Aslan, who was a good ruler. And it looks like the witch has won! But Aslan comes back to life, showing that ultimately he is the one in charge!

That story follows what we’ve talked about with Haman. Like the witch, Haman has worked hard to create human control. He was all about power and controlling how things worked out. But God was present and watching over the situation. Heavenly control was still being carried out even when no one could see it. Despite human’s best attempts to control life’s events, God is always sovereign and ultimately in control.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at