Book of Esther
Chapter 5 Part 10
June 24, 2012
“Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house” (Esther 5:1). After the third day of fasting by Esther, Mordecai and all Israel in Susa, Esther’s maids groomed her, perfumed her, and dressed her in the royal attire of her position as queen. Esther knew that part of her being accepted was her presentation of herself as pleasing. She then walked out of her rooms heading for the open court of the king to face her fate. Since she had not been sent for in 30 days, she had no way of knowing if the king would receive her or not, but she was determined to do what she could to save her people.
Esther must have been shaking as she stood in the open doorway of the inner court facing the king’s throne, which was raised and positioned to allow the king to see whoever approached the doorway. There she waited to see Ahasuerus’ reaction to her unannounced, uninvited appearance.
“And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter” (verse 2). Can you imagine Esther’s relief when she saw the king’s countenance change from being all business to being pleased when he saw her standing there? He was delighted to see Esther. We can know this because he raised his scepter to her. I can almost hear her breath escape from her tight lungs in a muffled prayer, “Thank You Father!” I believe this was God’s favor and provision on Esther for her faithfulness in trusting in Him. Oh, how glorious it is for us to find favor in the site of the King!
Proverbs 21:1 tells us that, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” This is what took place that day. The Lord turned Ahasuerus’ heart toward Esther. Now that she wasn’t killed for her nervy entrance, she could begin the work of changing the king’s heart for her people.
The king’s scepter being held out to Esther was Ahasuerus’ invitation for Esther to come forward and approach the throne. She took his offer gratefully and moved forward to touch the top of the scepter. Once her hand was on the scepter she knew she was safe from harm. The king had accepted her and they would now be able to talk.
“Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom” (verse 3). Ahasuerus asked Esther what she wanted, assuming she would not risk coming to him this way unless she had something important to discuss with him. The king was pleased to see Esther and his offer to grant whatever she asked up to half his kingdom was the king’s way of saying Esther would be refused nothing. The king owned 127 provinces, so his offer was large. If we were in that situation today, we would say, “Esther, what is it you want. Whatever it is, I’ll do it for you no matter what.”
There were several reasons Esther worried about what she must ask of the king. Now that she had overcome the major hurdle of staying alive, she could get to the task at hand. First of all, she understood and feared that coming to the king for the Jews would reveal her own Jewish heritage. Second, Esther knew Haman was a nasty adversary because he hated Mordecai to death, and so all Jews. Finally, she would make a seemingly impossible request that the king overturn a decree that had been written, signed, and approved by the stamping of the king’s ring. You see, once the king of Persia put his stamp on a decree, it could never be revoked. Esther was about to ask for the impossible, and she expected to get it. Her life and that of thousands of others depended on it.
“And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him” (verse 4). Esther didn’t just come out and tell the king of Haman’s deception. She might have been tempted to as the king had received her so courteously, but we must believe it was part of God’s plan to play this out His way. When we see how each appointment with the king brought Esther closer to exposing Haman, we understand the process.
Esther didn’t use manipulation with the king. David E. Pratte said this of Esther, “She did not make bold, domineering demands, nor did she nag, nor did she manipulate him, nor did she seek to embarrass him, nor did she whine and complain, as some wives do. She respectfully sought to please him and gain his consent by kind attentions to him.” Instead of rushing right in with her accusations and request Esther simply told Ahasuerus she wanted him and Haman to join her at a banquet she had prepared for the king. This would have been a table set with all the finery of the Queen’s house where she would offer each of the king’s favorite foods and drink. Ahasuerus had no reason to be suspicious at her inviting Haman, the king’s second in command and his favorite. She would soften the king’s heart through his stomach.
“Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared” (verse 5). Wanting to please his queen, Ahasuerus sent people out to find Haman. They were to tell him to hurry to Esther’s and not keep her waiting. I can imagine how surprised Haman was to receive such a summons from the king. Both man arrived in good time.
“And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed” (verse 6). Some say Esther made a drinking banquet for the king and Haman, but I don’t agree. She may have served wine, but she needed him to have a clear head to deal with her.
Again the king showed his pleasure of Esther. Again he offered her anything she wanted to half the kingdom. He made the statement before Haman and was duty-bound to deliver on his promise. It would please him to give his queen anything she asked of him.
“Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said” (verses 7, 8). Esther still held her tongue about Haman and his plan. She wanted to be sure she had Ahasuerus’ favor. She would not risk speaking before the right time, and only God could show her when that was. For now, Haman had to get out, brag about his importance to his family and make plans about Mordecai. Remember, Haman still doesn’t know Esther is a Jewess.
Esther said, “If I have found favor.” We know she had because the king was there. “And if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request” which we know it did because the king had repeated his earlier offer to give her whatever she wanted. She then asked the king and Haman to come to a second banquet. Again, although God’s name is never mentioned in Esther, it is implied. Here we see Esther’s patience as though she is being guided by an outside force. I believe she was, the Holy Spirit.
“Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai” (verse 9). When Haman left the banquet he had a “glad heart” and was walking on a cloud of joy and pride. The Queen herself had invited him to lunch and he couldn’t wait to brag about it. His joy was short lived when he went by Mordecai. Mordecai ignored him and didn’t stand to pay him homage. Mordecai continued to refuse to honor anyone but his God. Haman was “full of indignation” (resentment or annoyance) about Mordecai.
We can learn a lot from Mordecai. So often we give up a belief we hold about the Bible to please family or friends. The only one who should influence us about the Word of God is the Holy Spirit. Yes, pastors and teachers can help us understand, but we know that praying to other gods, reading horoscopes (horror-scopes) bowing before statues, etc… is wrong. When a former Catholic attends a funeral for family or friends and the people stand, kneel, bow, genuflect, it’s tempting to participate so as not to stand out. But if we love Jesus enough, man’s opinion of us should not matter. Like Mordecai, we must reserve our worship for the real God.
“Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king” (verses 10, 12). Even though Haman was incensed over Mordecai’s behavior, he kept it to himself. He had a mission and was anxious to get on with it. Haman called for family and friends and his wife to come running to hear his news. He started by listing his abundance. He itemized his material possessions. He was wealthy and had many children. He had authority, second only to the king. And now he had the honor of the queen. Mordecai’s narcissistic mind set never allowed him to wonder why the queen had invited him to lunch. After all, he was special, so why shouldn’t she invite him? He was having a great time running his brag session. Now he bragged that he was the only other man beside the king to be invited, and to make it more impressive, could report that he would go again to another banquet the next day.
Apparently he didn’t know the truth, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). He thought he was so superior to everyone else that he had to let them know it.
“Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made” (verses 13, 14). Then his complaint: No matter how important he was, he could not enjoy his position as long as Mordecai did not fear him or bow before him. So his wife came up with a solution. Kill Mordecai. Hang him on a gallows built 50 cubits high, which to us would be just over 70 feet high so he can be seen and dishonored for his disobedience. Make an example of him so others won’t take up his behavior. She told him that then he could go to the banquet and not allow Mordecai to spoil his day. Zeresh’s suggestion made Haman happy and he ordered the building to begin quickly. He wanted the gallows built and ready for the day he had set aside for the mass murder of Jews.
Do we behave like Haman sometimes? Do we complain about what we don’t have rather than praise the Lord for what He has blessed us with? I’ve been guilty of that. I still am once in a while.