December 2, Wednesday

Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Esther 5:10-14

Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits (75 feet) high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.”  This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.       

2After the end of a long drive from Philadelphia to Houston to take my youngest child to college, it was nice to sit in a cool auditorium, listening to several speakers in a program called “New Families Orientation.”  As was customary, before the speakers approached the podium, the master of the ceremony read off a long of list of their academic pedigrees and accomplishments.   Although it wasn’t quite the same sensation as seeing a Harvard Medical School diploma hung on the office of my new doctor, knowing that these speakers weren’t “hacks” put me at ease.

Now, what Haman did here isn’t all that different from what took place in that Houston auditorium—recounting all his accomplishments and pedigrees.   He was wealthy, had a large family of many sons, and was sitting on the top of the Persian bureaucratic totem pole.  The icing on the cake was Queen Esther’s preferential treatment of him.  The difference between the two, of course, is huge: while the praise of the speakers came from another person, Haman was busy praising himself.  Solomon quipped, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).

A practical reason for not praising oneself is to avoid embarrassment; something may happen that would pull the rug from under the very thing you felt proud of.  For Haman, whose fortune would soon take a nosedive, this meant leading Mordecai, “on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming . . ., ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights on honor’” (Esther 6:11).  Another reason why some people praise themselves is because no one would compliment them for the hard work they have done.  Since human nature does need some positive reinforcement, we should heed what Paul said: “They have refreshed my spirit and yours also.  Such men deserved recognition” (1 Cor. 16:18).  But a spiritual reason for not praising ourselves is because self-praise diminishes God’s glory, as if our ability or spirituality keyed our success.

Do you find yourself praising yourself too much, hoping that people would approve of you then?  Maybe you aren’t spending enough time alone with God.  Be approved by Him, because Jesus found you worthy enough to die to save you.

Prayer

Lord, I lift Your glorious Name on high for Your kindness.  Please open wide my prideful eyes so that I may see what is really going on in my life .  Help me to respond quickly in humility and repentance, rather than to wait a long time to make things right with You.  Amen.

 Bible Reading for Today: John 10

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Lunch Break Study

In the morning, we examined the vanity of Haman; this afternoon we will deal with his penchant for violence (killing all Jews on account of one Jew, and to kill him on gallows 75 feet tall).

Read Judges 9:47, 48b-54

Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 . . . And Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done.” 49 So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about 1,000 men and women. 50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

Question to Consider

  1. In what ways are Haman and Abimelech similar in how they lived and died?
  2. What fuels (thoughts, ideas, etc.) such violence?
  3. While we may not be that violent, what are some ways through which we show contempt for others? Are you having any issue with anyone at the moment?  Are you concocting a plan to do something about it?  How can you turn that negativity into something positive?

Notes

  1. Evidently, both men had no regard for human life. To get what they wanted, killing became a necessary and rational means to go after it.
  2. A low view of life certainly is a necessary rationale for a total disregard for human life. This low view stems from denying that each human is created by God in His own image with a special purpose.   Haman and Abimelech saw men as being no different from insects or mammals.
  3. I think a common weapon deployed to show our contempt for people whom we dislike is telling half-truths or lies about them. While we aren’t physically killing anyone, we are destroying their reputation and maligning their character.   The best way to turn that negativity into something positive is this: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

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Evening Reflection

Jesus says, “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. . . . Anyone who say, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt. 5:22).  Okay, fess up before going sleep: to whom did you get angry?  Was it your spouse or child?  Ask the Lord to give you the motivation and strength to mend this relationship—then just obey Him!

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