“And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath” (Esther 3:5).
Haman is one of the most hated individuals in the history of the Jewish people. When his name is mentioned in the Orthodox synagogues, the men will shout, “Let his name be blotted out!” Some of the more religious Orthodox Jews will even hiss. If they have canes, they will beat them on the floor at the mention of Haman’s name.
Haman was the prime minister of the mighty, affluent nation of Persia. He was the favorite of King Ahasuerus. Mordecai was a Jew who had been taken captive out of the city of Jerusalem. When Haman walked by, everyone was commanded to bow before him. Mordecai, however, refused to bow or to show reverence to him. While thousands of people bowed before Haman, Mordecai stood alone and refused to bow.
Haman was furious at the audacity of this Jew who refused to show reverence to him. He became so infuriated that he went to King Ahasuerus and asked his permission to massacre all of the Jews. Since Haman was the king’s favorite, his request was granted. King Ahasuerus decreed that every Jew in the kingdom was to be put to death on a date specified by the king. Can you imagine such a terrible thing? Because one Jew refused to bow, every Jew was to be put to death!
Haman hated Mordecai so much that he wanted to be personally responsible for Mordecai’s death. He began the construction of the gallows to hang Mordecai.
One night the king could not sleep, so he commanded his servants to bring him the records of the kingdom. While he was reading these chronicles, it was brought to his attention that Mordecai had once saved his life by reporting two gatekeepers who had planned an assassination. According to the records, he had never been rewarded or honored for this noble act.
While the king was reading this, Haman just happened to be standing outside his chambers, waiting to see the king. The king called him in and told him someone in the kingdom had done something great for the king and deserved to be honored. He asked Haman for some suggestions of ways to honor this person. Since he did not mention Mordecai’s name, Haman assumed the king was talking about him. He suggested a parade in this person’s honor. This person could lead the parade riding on the king’s own horse, wear the king’s own apparel, and the king could tell everyone to bow down before Haman.
The king told him the person he wished to honor was Mordecai and Haman was mortified! He realized that he would have to honor the man he so greatly despised. On the day of the parade, Haman gave the king’s clothing to Mordecai and helped in the ceremony held to honor Mordecai. He had to instruct everyone to bow before Mordecai.
After the parade was over, he went to his house in mourning, humiliated before the man he hated. In the end, Haman’s plot to kill the Jews was exposed, and he was hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. I am sure, when the king’s men hanged Haman; he realized Mordecai’s insubordination had not been worth his anger. He probably wished he had simply ignored Mordecai.
There are several lessons we can learn from this story. We can conclude that God protects His own, that a person’s sin will find him out, and that pride cometh before a fall. However, most people miss the main lesson in this tragic story; Haman’s fall was caused by his obsession with a little thing. He was upset by one little thing, by one Jew who, when thousands of others bowed, stood alone and refused to bow. Haman was oblivious to the fact that thousands of other people did bow before him. He could only see the one man who refused to bow. The silence of Mordecai was louder than the cheers of the masses. Haman’s anger toward one person caused him to lose his honor, and it finally caused his death.
We conquer mountains, and then we stumble over anthills. We are not overcome by boulders, but by tiny pebbles. Most of us become more upset over trivial things than we do over important things. I have seen couples bury a child in the cemetery and then quibble over a towel left on the floor. They receive great answers to prayer, but they tremble at the need for daily bread.
The same is true of churches and nations. I have seen churches that weather satanic storms and then split over the color of the songbooks. They fight the state government, and then they divide from within.
The nation of Israel crossed the Red Sea and then balked at the tiny Jordan River. The United States of America, the greatest nation of our generation, rose up to conquer Germany and Japan, and then it trembled over the smaller countries of Cuba and Vietnam.
Elijah prayed down fire from Heaven and severed the heads of the prophets of Baal, but then he ran from one woman who had threatened him.
Most of us are like the proverbial elephant that is not afraid of the beasts of the jungle, yet flees the tiny mouse. We must not let a trivial thing destroy us when we have so many things going for us. We must thank God for the good things in our lives.
In churches everywhere, you will find people who have been destroyed by trivial matters. Someone quits the choir because of a quibble with the choir director over a trivial matter. Someone gets mad because the usher did not seat him where he thought he should be seated. A bus driver becomes angry because he did not get the bus he wanted to drive, or a bus captain becomes angry because he was not given the bus route he wanted. A Sunday school teacher becomes angry because she was not given the class she wanted to teach. People become angry over things that are not worth “a hill of beans.”
Some college student gets upset over a little rule in the handbook. He, or she, will be distraught over a scolding by the Dean of Men or the Dean of Women. If they become so upset over a trivial matter, they will never be successful in the ministry. College is just an examination to prove a person’s character for real life.
Be careful to protect your spirit, for those trivial matters, those little irritants, are everywhere. They are the everyday problems in your marriage. Sometimes, your spouse will not put the cap on the tube of toothpaste or will not put the lid back on the milk or the peanut butter. Clothes and towels will be left on the floor. The toast will be burnt. The children will leave out the bicycles and tear up the grass in the front yard. You will lose the joy of marriage and the joy of raising children over trivial matters with little meaning, so stop building the gallows that will hang you.
Trivial pursuits will destroy you. Your nerves will be shattered, your life, and the lives of those around you, will be destroyed. You will break friendships of a lifetime over a minor statement or action. A lifetime of good is destroyed because someone’s feelings are hurt over a trivial matter.
Who is Mordecai in your life? What little thing will not bow to you or work the way it is supposed to work? What trivial matter has angered you? What trivial matter has caused your blood pressure to soar? You are angry with God for something insignificant. You are mad at the church, the bus captain, the choir director, or the youth director over some trivial matter. You have fallen in love with your church, but then you walk away from it over a minor problem or issue. It is such a trivial thing, such a little thing, but it will cause your downfall.
For some reason, we cannot associate God with taking care of trivial matters. Somehow, we have the idea that God only carries the big burdens; He only answers the big problems. We look to Him to work miracles, but we never ask Him to take care of the minor things. Because of that, we pray down millions of dollars, but we cannot pay our rent. We pray down great miracles, but we starve to death because we do not ask Him for the trivial matter of our daily bread.
The same God Who answered Elijah’s prayer and caused fire to fall on Mount Carmel is the same God Who fed Elijah, and He is the same God Who will take care of us. He is willing to take care of every problem, small and large, trivial and life-changing.
It is time to realize that life is not perfect and some things are simply trivial matters. For example, if a baseball player gets one hit out of three times at-bat, he is considered Hall of Fame material. If a basketball player makes eight out of ten throws at the free-throw line, he can become All-American. Mickey Mantel did not make a hit every time he came up to bat. Wilt Chamberlain did not make all of his free throws.
Of course, you want ten things out of ten to be perfect, but it will not happen. Accept that fact and thank God for those things that do go the way they should go! Do not let trivial pursuits take over your life. Do not let a Haman ruin your life.
What is the problem that will not bow? Who is the person who will not bow? Put away your hammer and nails, tear down the scaffolding and the gallows you are building. Start thanking God for those things that do go the right way, and stop playing trivial pursuit!