The Bible has a lot to say about haughtiness, none of it is good. Here are just a few verses about haughtiness:
Proverbs 16:8 is perhaps the most well-known. It is not a joke. Lift yourself very high and any trip can make you fall a long way down.
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 reads,
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
The Lord hates haughtiness Proverbs 6:16-19 reads,
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
Arrogance not only puts us first in our own eyes, it blinds us to everyone else’s needs, wants, and hopes. It blinds us to reality. And haughtiness or pride can sneak up on us, so that we don’t realize that it has taken over. It can be dissuaded and prevented though by how we handle the favor, blessings, and honor given to us. Today, we’ll read about Haman and how he handled favor and honor.
But first we will look at how Esther handled the very real problem of how to approach the King with the crisis of the saving the Jewish people from the law he had decreed via Haman. She, her personal servants, and the Jewish people of Susa had all fasted for three days. God gave her the answer she needed. Chapter 5 verses 1-8 read,
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, in front of the king's quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.”5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”
She would have been put to death for approaching the king. In her humility she turned to the Lord and He gave her the answer, to let the king see her and call her to him. Her obedience to the Lord also told her not to come straight out and explain the problem but do it this way so that rather than accuse a man of wrongdoing, God would reveal it. Verses 9-14 describe Haman’s pride stopping him from seeing anything but himself.
And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai.10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.
Rather than be thankful for his immense blessings and enjoy life, haughtiness led Haman to want more. Instead of counting his blessings and being glad, he recounted his accolades and renown. His hate of Mordecai, to see the man not bow down before him or even acknowledge his nobility infuriated him. His fury made him forget he was not actually king and he decided to destroy Mordecai in grand fashion and have a 75 foot tall gallows built. That would allow everyone to see the price paid for not trembling before him.
But God had other plans. God planned to save His people. God planned to avenge His people. Chapter 6 verses 1-3 read,
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
While Haman wanted to bring Mordecai dishonor and death, God had made a way to bring Mordecai honor he had not sought and give him life. The King wanted to reward Mordecai for saving his life. Verses 4-6a read,
And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?”
I interrupted the verse because I want to ask us to consider what our answer to the question would be. This powerful king is asking his most trusted official for some advice. How would you answer the question? What is the best way for the king to honor a valiant act? Verses 6b-11 read,
And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
Would you assume the question is about you or would you think of the best way to honor someone? Haman assumed it was all about him and the answer he gave was something he wanted for himself instead of something appropriate to honor a person for a heroic deed. Everything he said should be done had to be done for Mordecai. Haman wanted nothing more than Haman’s disgrace and death and he had to lead him through the city wearing the king’s robes and riding the king’s horse ordering people to pay him homage. Haman didn’t take it well. His pride wouldn’t let him learn a lesson. His conceit didn’t remind him that the king might discover his plot and so it would be best to come clean and try and fix things. His arrogance wouldn’t let him see that Mordecai was not the evil man he supposed him to be. His pride had him acting like a spoiled child. Reflect and see if your pride, like my own has blinded you to reality, deafened you to God’s voice, or silenced your conscience. Verses 12-14 read,
Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
14 While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.
Haman whined and complained to everyone about what had happened. Do you wonder if his friends thought he wasn’t acting very honorably or nobly? Do you wonder if they were tired of listening to him honk his own horn? They knew about his plan to kill Mordecai and now they knew how he had been forced to honor him. Accolades are not supposed to come from ourselves; then they are not really accolades. Proverbs 27:1-2 says it this way,
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
Believer, ask the Lord to reveal pride to you so that you can repent before you fall. Do good works and let your honor come from others. Honor Jesus Christ with your entire life. Put your trust in God, not in yourself.