The Honour Conferred on Mordecai.
B. C. 510.
4 And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king’s house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. 6 So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? 7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, 8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: 9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. 10 Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. 11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
It is now morning, and people begin to stir.
I. Haman is so impatient to get Mordecai hanged that he comes early to court, to be ready at the king’s levee, before any other business is brought before him, to get a warrant for his execution (v. 4), which he makes sure that he shall have at the first word. The king would gratify him in a greater thing than that; and he could tell the king that he was so confident of the justice of his request, and the king’s favour to him in it, that he had got the gallows ready: one word from the king would complete his satisfaction.
II. The king is so impatient to have Mordecai honoured that he sends to know who is in the court that is fit to be employed in it. Word is brought him that Haman is in the court, v. 5. Let him come in, says the king, the fittest man to be made use of both in directing and in dispensing the king’s favour; and the king knew nothing of any quarrel he had with Mordecai. Haman is brought in immediately, proud of the honour done him in being admitted into the king’s bed-chamber, as it should seem, before he was up; for let the king but give orders for the dignifying of Mordecai, and he will be easy in his mind and try to sleep. Now Haman thinks he has the fairest opportunity he can wish for to solicit against Mordecai; but the king’s heart is as full as his, and it is fit he should speak first.
III. The king asks Haman how he should express his favour to one whom he had marked for a favourite: What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honour? v. 6. Note, It is a good property in kings, and other superiors, to delight in bestowing rewards and not to delight in punishing. Parents and masters should take a pleasure in commending and encouraging that which is good in those under their charge.
IV. Haman concludes that he himself is the favourite intended, and therefore prescribes the highest expressions of honour that could, for once, be bestowed upon a subject. His proud heart presently suggested, “To whom will the king delight to do honour more than to myself? No one deserves it so well as I,” thinks Haman, “nor stands so fair for it.” See how men’s pride deceives them.
1. Haman had a better opinion of his merits than there was cause for: he thought none so worthy of honour as himself. It is a foolish thing for us thus to think ourselves the only deserving persons, or more deserving than any other. The deceitfulness of our own hearts appears in nothing so much as in the good conceit we have of ourselves and our own performances, against which we should therefore constantly watch and pray.
2. He had a better opinion of his interest than there was reason for. He thought the king loved and valued no one but himself, but he was deceived. We should suspect that the esteem which others profess for us is not so great as it seems to be or as we are sometimes willing to believe it is, that we may not think too well of ourselves nor place too much confidence in others. Now Haman thinks he is carving out honour for himself, and therefore does it very liberally, v. 8, 9. Nay, he does it presumptuously, prescribing honours too great to be conferred upon any subject, that he must be dressed in the royal robes, wear the royal crown, and ride on the king’s own horse; in short, he must appear in all the pomp and grandeur of the king himself, only he must not carry the sceptre, the emblem of power. He must be attended by one of the king’s most noble princes, who must be his lacquey, and all the people must be made to take notice of him and do him reverence; for he must ride in state through the streets, and it must be proclaimed before him, for his honour, and the encouragement of all to seek the ruler’s favour, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honour, which had the same intention with that which was proclaimed before Joseph, Bow the knee; for every good subject will honour those whom the king delights to honour. And shall not every good Christian then honour those whom the King of kings delights to honour and call the saints that are on the earth the excellent ones?
V. The king confounds him with a positive order that he should immediately go himself and put all this honour upon Mordecai the Jew, v. 10. If the king had but said, as Haman expected, Thou art the man, what a fair opportunity would he have had to do the errand he came on, and to desire that, to grace the solemnity of his triumphs, Mordecai, his sworn enemy, might be hanged at the same time! But how is he thunderstruck when the king bids him not to order all this to be done, but to do it himself to Mordecai the Jew, the very man he hated above all men and whose ruin he was now designing! Now, it is to no purpose to think of moving any thing to the king against Mordecai when he is the man whom the king delights to honour. Solomon says, The heart of the king is unsearchable (Prov. 25:3), but it is not unchangeable.
VI. Haman dares not dispute nor so much as seem to dislike the king’s order, but, with the greatest regret and reluctance imaginable, brings it to Mordecai, who I suppose did no more cringe to Haman now than he had done, valuing his counterfeit respect no more than he had valued his concealed malice. The apparel is brought, Mordecai is dressed up, and rides in state through the city, recognized as the king’s favourite, v. 11. It is hard to say which of the two put a greater force upon himself, proud Haman in putting this honour upon Mordecai, or humble Mordecai in accepting it: the king would have it so, and both must submit. Upon this account it was agreeable to Mordecai as it was an indication of the king’s favour, and gave hope that Esther would prevail for the reversing of the edict against the Jews.
– Matthew Henry Commentary