After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. – Esther 3:1-2
Nothing written in the Bible is accidental or irrelevant. The writer of Esther, for example, introduces Haman to us as “the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha.” That description is reinforced later on with the added emphasis “the enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10). When such repetition occurs, we should recognize that the writer wants us to understand a piece of information as significant. Some biblical background will help us appreciate the importance of this particular description of Haman.
After leaving Egypt, God’s people had been advancing toward Sinai when Amalek came and fought with them. We read that “Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven’” (Exodus 17:13-14).
Later, when Saul was made king of Israel, he was given a charge by God to destroy the Amalekites, their king Agag, and all that they had (1 Samuel 15:2-3). In other words, Saul was to enact the judgment of God on those who had lived in active opposition to Him and His people for centuries, refusing to repent. Yet despite the clarity of God’s command, “Saul and the people spared Agag … and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them” (v 9). Saul later confessed to Samuel, “I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (v 24).
In the Persia of the 5th century BC, power resided in the hands of Haman—and the writer wants us to understand that he was “the Agagite,” a descendant of Agag. Not only that but Mordecai’s grandfather was a “son of Kish” (Esther 2:5). Kish was Saul’s father. Mordecai, then, was a Jew whose lineage was connected to Saul, the king who had decided that God’s word didn’t really matter. As a result of Saul’s decision, an old conflict was allowed to keep simmering, and then bubbled up and boiled over as Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (3:6). Mordecai is confronted by the evil of an Agagite who shouldn’t exist—but who does exist because of the disobedience of Saul, Mordecai’s own ancestor.
God is not mocked when He gives His commands, issues His warnings, and says what He wants done. Failure to obey God always has ramifications. When we listen to the suggestions of others rather than to the directions of God, we will live with the implications for ourselves, and so will those who love us and those who live within our sphere of influence. The wisdom of God is vaster than the wisdom of man. Be quick, then, to obey God’s command, that you may live in the blessing of obedience and not store up trouble for yourself or those who follow you.