Queen Esther’s Invitation
5 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.”
(Esther 5:1-8 NIV)
As we finished chapter 4 yesterday, we saw Queen Esther and Mordecai working as a team to save the Jewish people from the evil genocide plot of Haman. God used both of them to carry out His plan to save the Jewish people from annihilation.
Mordecai reminded Esther that God had likely raised her up for “such a time as this”. Esther had to overcome her fear and take a chance to enter the king’s presence when she did not know her current standing with the king. Both had to trust the Lord, and trust each other to do their respective parts.
Queen Esther’s last statement, “if I perish, I perish”, was accurate in so many ways. As Mordecai told Queen Esther, she would not be exempt from the king’s decree when it came time to be carried out. As Esther related to Mordecai, the king has not asked to see her in over 30 days – she had no idea if the king would be interested in seeing her or not. To go into the king’s presence uninvited was the sentence of death unless the king intervened. Either way, Queen Esther had to see herself as dead in order to overcome her fears and speak to the king.
Queen Esther’s fear of death also included dying to her selfish wants and her reputation. She chose the fate of the Jewish people over saving her own life. What are we willing to sacrifice, what are we willing to die for, or die to, in order to share God’s love with others around us? Our fears? Our pride? Our reputation? Our association with Jesus? Our life?
So Queen Esther (along with Mordecai and the Jewish community in the capital city of Susa) fast (and presumably pray) for three days and nights before she goes to see the king. Esther likely remembered Solomon’s wise words as she prayed:
“In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him.”
(Proverbs 21:1 NIV)
Esther then invites the king and Haman to a banquet. The king is pleased, and asks Esther about her request. She invites the king and Haman back the next day for another banquet, where she will answer the king’s question.
The king must have been thinking, “Wow – Queen Esther came to see me uninvited – this must be important. And then she invited me to a banquet – this is really important. And now she invites me back again tomorrow for another banquet – this must be REALLY, REALLY important!” Esther now has the king’s full attention and interest.
God is at work behind the scenes, changing the king’s heart, honoring Esther and Mordecai and the Jewish community in Susa as they poured out their hearts before God and asked for His deliverance during the three days of prayer and fasting.
When trouble confronts us, where do we turn for help? To our family and friends? To our bank account, to pay our way out of the situation? To legislative protection or privilege? To legal means, through lawyers or the courts? Or do we come to the foot of the cross first, and place our troubles there at the feet of Jesus?
And what is our expectation when we do bring our troubles to the Lord? That he “owes” us a blessing? That we “don’t deserve” to go through such suffering or hardship? Or do we come with no expectations, only acknowledging His holiness, His goodness and love toward us, seeking only to draw near to Him and know Him more deeply?