Solomon said, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). In a country whose conversations seem to be harsher than in the past, it is good to be reminded that a “soft answer” can get people just as far, if not farther, at times than screaming or demanding to be heard. In another proverb, we learn, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone” (Prov. 25:15). R.A. Torrey says this means, “soft and conciliating language will often accomplish the most difficult things” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge). How true! Were we aware of these proverbs?
Two (of many) that embody these proverbs are Abigail (I Sam. 25) and Esther (Est. 7). Neither woman led armies into battle, nor did they stage protests, strikes, and the like. They were not warriors in the “conventional” sense of the word. Yet, by their wisdom, their soft answers, and wise reasoning, they persuaded kings to do their will!
Abigail’s wisdom calmed the anger of King David and saved her family from his wrath when her husband acted foolishly (I Sam. 25:21-33). Esther’s wisdom saved not only her life but the entire nation of the Jews (Est. 7:3-8:17)! How did she do it? Remember, Esther had approached the king uninvited (Est. 5:1-3), and when the king asked what she wanted, she invited her husband to two parties (Est. 5:4-8, 7:1-2). She understood the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” By inviting him to these parties and making him feel welcome, she then knew she was in a position to make her request, and he listened (Est. 7:3-4).
Please do not misunderstand. A “soft answer” can still be firm and have conviction. Read Esther 7:4-6 and discover a soft, yet firm answer to Xerxes that is filled with conviction. We do not compromise with sin and error when answering in this manner. If we do, it is no longer a “soft answer,” but a “wrong answer!”
Does this mean that there is no time when fighting for what one believes in is necessary? Of course, not (I Tim. 6:12)! There is a very great need for fighting against Satan and the false doctrines of men (Eph. 6:13-18; I Tim. 4:6-9). At the same time, it is the wise person who understands when to fight hard and when to use the “soft answer.” Let us pray for that wisdom and use it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When Belshazzar hosted a drunken feast using the utensils that came from the Temple, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin” in the plaster of the wall. These words spelled death and destruction for Belshazzar and Babylon (Dan. 5). It is this event that has given rise to the statement we use today when we say someone has “seen the handwriting on the wall.”
Not too many years later, a man had an experience that mirrored those events in Daniel 5. After Ahasuerus told Haman to parade Mordecai before the people in the square or plaza around Shushan, he returned home humiliated. Upon telling his wife and friends what happened that day, they told Haman that since this is so, he will surely fall before Mordecai (Est. 6:13). The plans of Zeresh and the others (Est. 5:14) were dashed when they heard what had happened. Thus, they voiced their warning to Haman (Est. 6:14).
Would Haman listen? Would he heed the “handwriting on the wall”? Haman faced imminent danger as he went to the Queen’s second banquet (Est. 7), just as Belshazzar faced imminent danger on that dreadful night in Babylon (Dan. 5:30). What choice would he make? He still had a chance to change things at this time.
Will we read -- not the writing on the wall, but the writing in the Book (Eph. 3:4)? The Bible warns us about sin and its consequences (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1:14-15; Rev. 21:8). When we read these words, we are made aware of the expectations God has for us (Jn. 14:15; Col. 3:17; Rev. 22:14). Will we pay attention to His writing and obey, realizing that our days on earth are numbered (Heb. 5:9; Ps. 90:12)? There is a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to accept, and our “second chance” to get it right is now (II Cor. 6:2)!
Don’t be like Haman, who, when warned, refused to listen. Heed the warnings from God and from others who love you and want you to be saved (Heb. 12:1-2; Mk. 16:16)! Tomorrow may be too late!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The first twelve verses of Esther 6 are some of the funniest in the Bible, in my opinion. Perhaps we have not thought this way before, but there is nothing like reading about a man who is as arrogant as Haman getting his “comeuppance”! Solomon said, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). While this is not the “fall” we will read about later in the book; this is definitely a “plot twist”!
When Haman was approached by the king to get some advice on how to honor someone (Est. 6:6), it was the height of arrogance for Haman to think that the king must have been planning to honor him! His thought process was, “Who else could it be?” Ironically, the king intended to honor Haman’s sworn enemy, Mordecai, for his work in stopping an attempt on his life (Est. 2:21-23, 6:1-3). How embarrassed Haman was when his recommendations were followed, and he was given the order to honor Mordecai and parade him through town!
“When pride cometh, then cometh shame” (Prov. 11:2). Haman would experience the truth of this verse first-hand. Haman’s pride would bring suffering to him just as Nebuchadnezzar’s pride brought suffering to him (Dan. 4:30-37). The Edomites were noted as asking, “Who will bring me down?” only to have God respond, “I will bring thee down” (Obad. 3-4).
God has ways to turn man’s pride into a humbling experience! This is because “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Haman learned this lesson the hard way! Let us learn from Haman and humble ourselves now (I Pet. 5:5-6).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I think many wives underestimate the influence they have over their husbands and family. Spend time in a study of the Bible, and you will learn just how powerful a wife/mother’s influence is on her family! In I Peter 3:1-6, Peter declares that a wife can bring her husband to the Lord based on her life-choices and influence. Passages like Matthew 5:16 apply in the home just as much as they apply in the workplace or other places.
When we read about King Ahab and his evil, we see that it was his wife Jezebel, who pressed him into even more evil, including conspiring to murder Naboth behind Ahab’s back (I Kings 21:6-14). Similarly, the actions of Zeresh, Haman’s wife, mirrored what Jezebel did (Est. 5:14). When she saw how upset Haman was at Mordecai, she encouraged Haman to kill him on specially-made gallows just for the occasion! What did Haman think of this idea? “The thing pleased Haman and he caused the gallows to be made.”
Zeresh had the opportunity to calm her husband and remind him of what was most important, but she didn’t! She got caught up in Haman’s envy, and anger toward Mordecai and her encouragement caused him to sink lower into sin. Not too many hours later, she would see her husband hanged on the gallows she encouraged him to build. This is the result of the sin, bitterness, and envy that she inspired.
In contrast, we read of godly women who were good influences on their husbands and families. We read of people like Sapphira, Hannah, Mary, and many others. Ladies, one day, you will leave this earth. How do you want to be remembered? What influence are you leaving on your husband and your children? Choose wisely! Don’t be like Zeresh and Jezebel!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Esther 5, we read that Esther approached the king with a request that he and Haman come to a banquet she had prepared (Est. 4:16; 5:1, 4). The king graciously accepted, as did Haman, and while at the party, they were invited to yet another (5:5-8). After this, Haman went home but saw Mordecai along the way (5:9). Mordecai refused to bow to Haman as before (3:2-5), and this brought Haman’s anger to a boil. When he got home and told his wife about the party he had gone to and the opulence of the king’s house, he told Zeresh, “Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate” (Est. 5:13). How petty!
The wise man said, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (Prov. 27:4). Envy is a dangerous emotion. It motivated the brothers to sell Joseph and prompted the Jews to kill Jesus (Mk. 15:10; Acts 7:9). It caused Paul to be run out of Thessalonica (Acts 17:5) and has been the cause of many more sinful actions throughout the years. In the case of Haman, his envy would not allow him to enjoy anything so long as Mordecai was living. Truly, envy will ruin a life, and it will jeopardize one’s soul!
Let us check our attitude toward our fellow man. Love others, don’t envy them (Matt. 22:39). Beware of envy because nothing good comes from it.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs