Scripture: Esther 6:5 So the king’s servants told the king, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” The king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” 7 So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. 9 Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials; let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’ ” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, “Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.”
Observation: Haman, one of the king’s advisors, hatched a plot to kill his enemy Mordecai and the rest of the Jews in the kingdom. Instead (spoiler alert!), it is Haman who is put to death while Mordecai is honored. It’s an incredible turn of events.
Application: The bible has a lot to say about the foolishness of plotting violence, particularly as a means of revenge. I’m reminded of Proverbs 26:27…
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on the one who starts it rolling”
Or, Matthew 26:51-52…
51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Then there’s the well-known saying attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius:
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt egregiously wronged and wanted to take matters into my own hands – to strike back. “An eye for an eye…” – that sort of thing. But the guidance of scripture is clear. In the Old Testament we’re told to let God handle consequences…
Proverbs 20: 22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.
The guidance of Jesus in the New Testament is even more radical…
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
I’m something of a fighter by nature. Confrontation doesn’t bother me, at least not as much as it does many others. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s the truth. Fortunately, I’ve mellowed a bit with age, but there are times when the fighter in me is stirred – particularly when I see people I love being attacked (physically, verbally, emotionally, whatever).
One of the greatest challenges I’m facing these days is resisting the temptation to come to the defense of my young adult children. There are times when I want to SO BADLY, but I realize it’s generally a mistake. I can coach them. I can encourage them. I can support them. But they need to learn to stand up for themselves. After all, I won’t always be around.
I’m also teaching them what it looks like to defend oneself without resorting to violence or revenge. As people of faith we don’t dish out consequences, but we leave that to God. We pray for the peace needed to calm our fears when threatened. We ask the Lord to show us how we may have contributed to the situation, as culpability is rarely 100% one-sided. And most importantly, we pray that the Lord might touch the hearts of our “enemies”, lest we end up like Haman – caught in our own trap.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you know our tendencies toward violence. When we are hurt, we want to hit back – with words, with deeds. Give us grace to trust you to mete out justice as we pray for those who oppose us. And reveal to us when we’re part of the problem. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.