Read Esther 5
Esther’s Request to the King
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”
4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”
5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”
Haman’s Rage Against Mordecai
9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.
Have you ever seen the cartoon of the man leaning on a shovel praying for God to make a hole in the ground? Or how about the drowning man who is offered a buoy, but declines, explaining that he is waiting on God to save him? Thankfully Esther knew that trusting in God sometimes means you also have to take action. Esther was understandably afraid for her life as she moved out in faith. So how did she do it? She made a prayerful plan, she was prepared, she was peaceful, and she was patient.
Esther took time to think and plan before giving very specific instructions to Mordecai. She knew that prayer and fasting among her people and his people would put them in complete dependence on God for what happened next.
When the time came, Esther prepared for battle. Her uniform and battleground didn’t look like one of a typical warrior, but rather consisted of royal robes and logistical placement in the inner courts where the king would see her and invite her into his presence. Her entrance and battle cry weren’t ones of rage and fury. Instead, she waited to be called upon and approached in peace, waiting for the king’s scepter to be extended to her in the demonstrative sparing of her life. She even touched the end of the scepter in a show of respect. Keep in mind, she knew that her life was at risk; she told Mordecai in verse 4 “And if I perish, I perish.”
Commentaries are split on whether Esther was too fearful to ask for what she wanted right away or whether she was waiting for the exact right moment, but either way she was patient in asking the king for protection of the Jews. She prepared not one, but two banquets for the king and Haman, and even when pressed by the king to tell him what she wanted from him—she waited. She trusted and she waited on God’s timing.
We will see in the upcoming chapters how her plan, her preparedness, her peaceful approach, and her patience served her and God’s people well. How often do we approach difficult situations this way? We too often end up at one end of the spectrum or the other—we get ahead of ourselves and take action too quickly, only to realize we also got ahead of God. Or we are left leaning on the shovel waiting on God to do something, without recognizing that He already brought rain, made the soil wet, and put the shovel in our hands in order to dig the necessary hole. We can serve God faithfully if we remember to approach these situations as Esther did—with a prayerful plan and a purpose.
- Which way do you tend to struggle—do you get ahead of God or do you fail to take action?
- In what situations might you need to take action and how can you prayerfully prepare?
- If you identify some action you need to take, be sure to include your community as Esther did with Mordecai to make sure you are confident that you are acting in God’s timing and prompting.
Did You Know?
The NIV commentary gives a possible explanation why God’s name does not directly appear in the book of Esther. The people of the Middle East had many gods and those names were mentioned in official documents. However, the Jews were unique in that they served only one God, so a story about the Jews was naturally a story about God. For that reason, we see only indirect references and examples of divine incidents throughout the book of Esther.
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