It wouldn’t be impossible to feel compassion for Haman (he was, after all, someone’s son), but you’d have to work at it. The portrait painted of him in Esther is of someone who long ago said goodbye to any attempt to be a decent human being. In place of that is a dark, foreboding, destructive personality toxic to the touch. The saying, “Man gets the sin, then sin gets the man” is witnessed in him. We begin to see this unraveling in Esther 6.
Xerxes wants to honor someone (v. 1-3), and Haman can think of no one better than himself. “Who is there the king would rather honor than me?” (v. 6). We may shake our heads, but disciples aren’t immune to such a spirit. Two of them asked Jesus for the places of honor in His kingdom (Mark 10:35ff). You can hear echoes of it today when someone smirks and tells us, “God loves everyone, but I’m His favorite.”
By contrast, Paul tells us in Romans 12:3:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus tells a parable instructing us to take the seat of lowest honor and only move up if we’re offered something more. That is exactly the way we should approach life and is in sharp distinction to the inordinate amount of self-promotion and status seeking that characterizes so much of our culture today.
But not so with Haman. He falls all over himself telling the king what should be done for the man he thinks is himself. Of course, the irony is that the man Xerxes wants to honor is actually Mordecai—the person Haman is obsessed with destroying and has recently had a pole built to impale him upon. Instead, in a stunning reversal, Haman must now put the king’s robe on Mordecai, place him on the king’s horse and lead it through the city proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor” (Esther 6:11).
Pride is a failure to see ourselves as we really are. It is a critical lapse in self-awareness. We are sinners saved by the grace of God and it is always a good idea to act that way.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:21)