It’s very interesting to me that one chapter after I praise Mordecai for honoring the king, I have to criticize him for his pride and stubbornness in not doing so for Haman.
The Bible is silent on why Mordecai refused to kneel before Haman, but we can make some guesses why.
This is, of course, speculation on my part so feel free to disagree with me (and more than a few do), but I find it hard to believe it was because Haman was expecting worship as God. For one thing, Xerxes was the one who had ordered the people to pay Haman honor. For another thing, I can’t imagine that Xerxes would order that people honor Haman in a way that he wouldn’t demand for himself.
We also see later that Xerxes raises Mordecai to second in command in the kingdom, but it seems highly unlikely that he would do so if Mordecai refused to kneel before him as he refused to do for Haman.
So what was the reason for Mordecai’s refusal? If you look at Mordecai’s family history, it seems that he was related to King Saul, the first king of Israel. As you may recall, God ordered Saul to destroy the Amalekites, whose king was Agag. Saul failed to do so, and God stripped him of his kingdom for his disobedience. (I Samuel 15).
As a result, not only was there a long history of hostility between the Jews and the Amalekites, but there was also a personal element to this hostility between Mordecai and Haman. My guess is that it was this that caused Mordecai to balk at bowing before Haman and paying him any honor. In short, it was his pride.
Haman, meanwhile, apparently had his nose stuck so high in the air as he walked that he didn’t even notice Mordecai’s slight until the royal officials informed him of it. At which point, Haman became furious at this lack of respect. And when he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he determined not only to kill Mordecai, but to wipe out the Jews as well, probably because of the hostility between their peoples.
Haman allowed his pride to guide his actions, and it ultimately led to his downfall. Mordecai also allowed his pride to guide his actions, and it very well could have led to the destruction of the Jews apart from God’s grace.
I wonder if Mordecai realized just how wrong his attitude had been as he wore sackcloth and ashes as he mourned by the king’s gate. (4:1)
What about you? What guides your actions? Does God’s Spirit and his Word guide your actions? Or does your pride?
If we let pride rule in our lives, it will cause ruin in our lives. How many marriages have fallen because of pride? How many relationships? How many careers and ministries?
Let us learn to be humble. Humble before God. Humble before others. For as James wrote,
God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (James 4:6)