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Power Corrupts – Esther, Mordecai and Haman

By Steph Nickel

Power corrupts. In this episode of Steph’s series about Queen Esther, we find her in a desperate struggle for survival against the evil and corrupt Haman.

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Intrigue and Suspense

What began as a love story of sorts has become a story of intrigue and suspense.

I would encourage you to read the entire book of Esther. I very much wanted to read much of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4 to you today. Instead, I will touch on some of the highlights.

Haman had tricked the king into issuing a decree to kill all the Jews in the lands under the king’s rule. And it all started when Mordecai, the faithful and wise man who had raised Queen Esther, wouldn’t bow down to Haman. The king’s official convinced Ahasuerus that this meant the Jewish people were lawbreakers and best wiped out entirely.

Lord ActonPower Corrupts

Back in the late 1800s, Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

This certainly applies to Haman … except, of course, that he didn’t actually have absolute power. But we will discuss that in a later devotional.

In Esther 4:1, 3, we read, “When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry … in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes” (ESV).

Haman’s Scheming and Esther’s Response

And where was the queen at this time? Hadn’t she heard the news? Hadn’t she learned of Haman’s scheming? We must remember that information wasn’t communicated as it is today. We must also remember that the relationship between Esther and the king was not like that of a married couple today. The queen only appeared before the king when he summoned her. And we learn from chapter 4 that he hadn’t called for her in some time.

Esther & Mordecai

Esther’s attendants brought word to her that Mordecai was in sackcloth and crying out. She didn’t know what was going on and sent one of the king’s eunuchs to get the details.

In verses 7-8 of chapter 4, we read, “Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people” (ESV).

A Kingly Summons Required

Of course, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable request to us. After all, wouldn’t that be our first thought? Wouldn’t we do all we could to have the king revoke this terrifying law, a law that would wipe out Esther’s family, her people?

But, as I said, even the queen couldn’t appear before the king without him summoning her. The consequences? Death … unless the king extended his scepter toward her. Esther’s reluctance to go to her husband is understandable.

After continued communications between Mordecai and Esther, she made a request—and a promise.

Verse 16 of chapter 4 says, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (ESV).


Learning From Mordecai and Esther

What can we learn from Mordecai and Esther? There is a right time to make ourselves heard?

Mordecai had counseled Esther not to reveal her heritage to anyone when she was taken from her home. And yet, things had changed drastically. Mordecai was making himself heard and he urged Esther to do the same. There is a time to stand up to injustice and evil.

We Must Trust Wise Counsel When Power Corrupts

We must trust wise counsel—even when it seems foolish to do so.

Knowing what the consequences could be, it’s understandable why Esther resisted her guardian’s request—even though it appears he had a history of giving her wise counsel through the years.

The wisest counsel of all is found in the pages of Scripture. Yet, society considers what we read there to be nothing more than manmade stories, foolishness, and superstition.

We Must Be Willing to do What is Right

We must be willing to do what is right—no matter how frightening—and leave the results in God’s hands.

At this point in the story, Esther didn’t know if the king would listen to her or if he would have her killed. Yet, she became convinced that the right thing to do was to go before him. “If I perish, I perish,” she said.

God doesn’t call us to be foolhardy, but He does call us to trust Him and do what He directs us to do in His Word—no matter how others react. As I mentioned at the beginning of today’s devotional, I encourage you to read the book of Esther. There is much we can learn from this amazing story.

Steph Beth NickelSteph Nickel

Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.  Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.

Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.

More About Queen Esther

Introducing Hadassah – The Story of Queen Esther

A Plan for Esther’s Life – The Story of Esther

A Plan Thwarted by Esther & Mordecai

The Plot Revealed – Queen Esther

Mordecai and Queen Esther – How to Glorify God

Power Corrupts – Esther, Mordecai and Haman

Images courtesy of:

Mausoleum of Esther & Mordecai   – Philippe Chavin

Lord Acton – Public Domain

Eastern Woman  – Public Domain

One Against All  – Alexas_Fotos

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Hanniel from ON