There is an underlying theme running throughout the Bible. It’s backward and counter-cultural from what we expect. It’s the principle of the proud being humbled and the humble being exalted–raised up and honored. It’s clear in the background of the book of Esther and Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels.
Pride Goes Before Fall
In Esther, Haman loathed and hated Mordecai. So much so that he planned to have him killed. The day he went to the King to ask for it to be done, this happened:
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.
“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.
The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.
His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”
“Bring him in,” the king ordered.
When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have 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. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”
“Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”
So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”
Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,
Haman was a very proud man as you can see. God warns in Proverbs 29:23 that a man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will attain honor. That’s what played out here.
Haman also had a plan to kill all the Jews in the kingdom (Esther 3:1-15). He ended up dead and Mordecai became the new second-in-command. Psalm 18:27 says God delivers an afflicted and humble people, bringing down those with haughty looks. Psalm 147:6 says God lifts up the humble and downtrodden; casting the wicked down to the ground.
“I’m not as bad as Haman.”
You may be thinking that. I hope you aren’t that bad. The week I wrote this I was studying Luke 18:9-14:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Do you look down on anyone? I do sometimes, I have to guard against self-righteousness. It comes from forgetting the sin and darkness in our own hearts. When we remember our own sin, we see that in the eyes of God we are no better than they are.
The key is that you have to recognize your own brokenness first.